Contents for The Galapagos
The Galapagos. Where to start? I suppose the beginning will do. As I sit here, in the plane, three hours into my eleven hour flight, I wonder just what, or more specifically, how many amazing things I will see. I've already seen many interesting things, although they are not indiginous to Ecuador. For example, I am seated in row 14, before me is row 12. KLM must have some susperstitious clients. I wonder, should the plane be big enough, if there wouldn't be a 333 row, or even bigger, a 666 row?
I've also seen an American recount his trip to the doctor for a broken nose, rather gleefully, to his American friends; a couple of Ecuador locals (I suppose) who couldn't find their seats, and a certain individual who tried to sneak into first class incognito. It didn't work.
When we landed though, that was a whole other story. First, I had a little internal panic attack when I still couldn't find my luggage, but then, miraculously, there it was. We passed through the customs and I got my visa stamp right next to the U.S. one. Now here comes the fun part. We stepped out of the airport, and already I could imagine us being coerced into going somewhere with a stranger only to be kidnapped. Racist and most probably unlikely, I know, but a lot of people were looking at us with glints in their eyes. We found the taxis right outside and as soon as I went into it I knew there was something wrong. There were no seatbelts!! Well, to be pedantic, technically there were seatbelts (isn't it illegal for a car to be manufactured without them now?), but there were no buckles. At all. And I noticed the driver set off without wearing his. I was very out sorts. A car without being able to wear a seatbelt is like having tea without tealeaves (i.e. just water). Okay, maybe not, but you get my point. So I was very perperlexed, but I was reassured by my Travel Companion that this was normal for Ecuador. So off we went, and just as we were about to get out of the airport/parking sort of thing, as the driver scanned a little card to get through, a motorbike cut in front of us and went ahead. I have founnd this to be usual in Quito, bikes so close to the cars that you could tip them over just by letting your hand out the window. And the cars are just as bad. There are practically no rules of the road that are obeyed except stop at red light. I even saw a few bikers without helmets.
But back to our taxi; the problem with this surpassing bike was that the machine in charge of allowing passage thought that the bike was the vehicle paired with the scanned card, and so, down came the wooden bar and we were blocked. The driver had to leave the car where it was, parked slightly to the side so that other cars could pass. And thus we were left; with the driver's side door ajar, the windows rolled down because of the heat, and the constant tick tick of the car signal.
About five minutes, if not ten later, the driver had a new card and we got out.
My first impression of Quito is polluted. Then humid, but only slightly, and then cramped. It is lovely though, although the streets are teeming with honking cars going all over the place and bikers zipping past. The pedestrians also do as they please, when it comes to the road. And so, as I was thinking of Quito, the driver suddenly pulled over and I couldn't see any hotel matching ours. The driver quickly informed us in hurried Spanish that he was 'simply switching'. Another man took our driver's place, right there on the side of the street, and he picked up where the other had left off. I never thought this could happen for taxis. Dublin bus yes, but a taxi? I don't understand... Ah well, different culture, different customs, different people. When in Ecuador do as the Ecuador(ians?) do. The rest of the ride was almost normal, apart from this one guy I saw, a juggling bustler, who just seemed to perform in front of the cars of a particular road while the lights were red. I would later on notice more of these performers, including a particular fire breathing artist. In any case, he was a very good juggler. Our hotel is nice, cozy, and quite small. The room is also nice enough, although my bed is a bit creaky.
We got to the hotel by half five-ish, and we decided to go grab a bite to eat before turning in to a well deserved night of sleep.
So we got our food in a bar we found in a plaza not far from our hotel, and when we came back at 7-ish, it was already dark. And the dark does come suddenly. It's almost like: it's light, its light, oooh looks like it's getting dark, oh no wait, it is dark.
But enough about Quito for now. Now I go to sleep. I need it.