We crossed into Ecuador from the border town of Ipiales, Colombia, into the border town of Tulcan, Ecuador. From there we caught a little colectivo (shared taxi) right to the border.
Unfortunately, our taxi driver neglected to stop at the proper immigration points, so we had to re-enter Colombia in order to get our passports stamped, and then proceeded to correctly walk into Ecuador.
Once we arrived in Tulcan, we grabbed a hotel and took it easy for the rest of the day. There’s not a whole lot to see there, besides a few stores, restaurants, and a bus terminal.
The next day we woke early and grabbed a bus to downtown Quito. There, we explored some of the city, the plazas, and the historical district.
As it got dark, we contacted our couchsurfer Nantar, who met us at one of the plazas. She turned out to be an awesome, young, energetic host who bent over backwards in order for us to feel welcome! She made us tea on arrival, gave us a tour, and most importantly, introduced us to her wonderfully devious cat, Mew.
The next morning we met up with an old friend: Lucia! Three years ago, she came to our high school for a year as an exchange student. Jokingly, we told her we would visit her one day. Turns out that it came true! She picked us up in downtown Quito and we spent the day exploring her city.
First, we went to a location called La Mitad Del Mundo, or “The Middle of the World”. There, they have a monument that symbolizes where the equator runs through, as well as a giant yellow line showing the equator. Of course, today it’s been commercialized and also has 3 museums, a few restaurants, and an amusement park (just kidding about the last one).
Funnily enough, however, is that the huge monument is actually wrong! The area was calculated hundreds of years ago by french explorers, and is actually slightly incorrect. The true 0’00’00 coordinates, when calculated by a GPS, are actually just a short walk north of the monument. We decided we would go see the monument, and then the real equator line.
Later in the day, we went back to Lucia’s home, met her family, and had a nice lunch. They were all extremely kind, hospitable and a lot of fun! We had a great time talking life in Quito, our trip, and playing some board games.
Our final event for the day was a theatre show at the National Theatre Plaza. It turned out to be not quite what we expected. It was a small show, with only two actresses, and the story revolved around a dead lady and a cat. Very abstract, and unfortunately difficult for us to understand!
After the show, we went and visited Bandido Brewery, a new brewery in historic Quito, started up by some young American guys. It has some great food, good drinks and the owner’s are all really friendly. Definitely worth a visit if you pass through Quito (also, make sure you try the garlic fries!)
After that busy day, we woke up really early, because we were going to the beach for the weekend with Lucia’s family! We took a 5 hour car ride west, and spent the weekend relaxing and recovering on the coast. The small beach community we stayed in was great. It was relaxing, had a gorgeous view, and there was great food. We also got to go swimming in some pretty sweet pools…
We had an amazing time there, and want to give a special thank you to Lucia and her family for all of their generosity!
Once we returned to Quito, we had one more day we spent hanging out, shopping and touring the countryside of Quito. The night before we left, Lucia’s brother invited us out to a cafe with a nighttime overlook of the city. That turned out to be an incredible experience as well! We had a chance to try a lot of the famous foods and desserts from Quito, all with great company and a gorgeous view.
We left the next morning, and arrived in a small, relaxing city called Cuenca. To be honest, there was not anything really eventful that happened there. We spent the day catching up on some work, took a few walks around town, and decided it was time to move on.
Next Stop: Peru.
-Micah & Nate