Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ecuador Antisana/Illiniza, May 11 - 19: Dispatch #1

Guide Henry Moya, climbers Nick Jansen and Luke Shedivy

Sunday, May 13, 6:00 am Quito time

This is Henry Moya reporting from Ecuador. Our small team of two friends Nick Jansen and Luke Shedivy arrived very late on Friday; it was actually Saturday morning at 2:00am! We all met for a very good breakfast at hotel Reina Isabel. Our original plan was to go to Otavalo Market for the day on Saturday, but due to tiredness because of the very late arrival, our team preferred to do some sightseeing in and around Quito instead of driving 2 hours each way to the market.

Few cities in the world can match the setting of Quito, the second highest capital in Latin America after La Paz. Quito lies in a narrow valley running north to south. It is wedged between the slopes of the volcano Pichincha to the west and a steep canyon formed by the Machangara River to the east. Quito is very much a city of two halves: the Old City is the colonial censer, where pastel-colored houses and ornate churches line a warren of steep and narrow streets, and the New Town where you will find Quito’s main tourist and business area.

In 1990 Quito was declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. In the whole city there are more than 80 churches, some of them are quite significant for their art and architecture and definitely worth seeing.

Also one of the things we did during the day yesterday was visit the equatorial monument, the Mitad del Mundo (obviously where the name of Ecuador comes from) where we had a good lunch. It's a relatively short drive north of Quito. In the afternoon we also did a hike to Cerro de la Marca, a small hill near the equatorial monument, which was a good start of our acclimatization process. Late in the afternoon we returned to Quito and had a early dinner at the Magic Bean. It was a good day and we had a great time together. Today we will do our first big acclimatization hike up Pasachoa. This should be another fun day.

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