Sunday, February 21, 2016

QUITO: la mitad del mundo

Today we complete our first week in Ecuador.

It seems like we've been here for a month, not just a week. When you travel to new places and see new vistas, time slows down. All appears in slow motion. And the hours and days last longer than normal.

In Quito the altitude - 9,000 feet - did a number on me. I knew it, I was expecting it, and took some precautions. Drink a lot of water they say. I did. Take an ibuprofen. I did. Yet my breath was so shallow every time I went outside the hotel, I had to walk very slow and wait a while to recuperate. The first day we took a tour on one of those hop on-hop off buses. Hoping off at El Panecillo to have lunch seemed like a marvelous idea. And it was: good food, awesome views of the city below. But when, after lunch, I had to climb the stairs up from the restaurant to the road where the bus was waiting, I thought I was going to die. I couldn't breathe. It was like a big rock sat on my chest. I barely made it to the bus and sat down, trying to catch my breath, a breath that was very stingy, very slow. After 5 days in Quito I still had difficulty with the altitude.

"La Mitad del Mundo" (The Middle of the World) is my favorite attraction - a museum where you can see how the water goes down the drain in different directions, depending where you are; where you weigh less because the Equator bulges; where you try to balance an egg on the head of a nail (I'm not sure what that proves); and, obviously, the line, the famous line, where we all stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and one foot on the Southern.

We left the city for Manta, a port on the Pacific. I've never been so glad to be at sea level!
Here we stay with our friends for a couple of days before heading south to Puerto Lopez and the islands.

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