After an uneventful day of travel, Kirsten and I arrived in Quito yesterday!
Arriving late at night we did not have much of a chance to view the city. With the exhaustion of travel combined with a nauseating 45-minute cab ride and an altitude shock, we were ready to rest and wake up refreshed in Quito, ready to explore.
Well, we did wake up in Quito. Again and again and again we woke up to the sound of the buzzing doorbell of someone outside of the hostel. We woke up to the sound of pounding at 6 am, and the constant sound of a baby crying right outside of our door. Welcome to Ecuador?
To shake the exhaustion of a poor nights sleep, paired with fatigue from the nearly 10,000 ft altitude, we decided that we needed breakfast. Searching for our morning brew around the “new town” of Quito, we had our first glimpse of the city.
Wandering by closed shop after closed shop, the city was an absolute ghost town. Nothing but the most touristic shops and restaurants were open. As in many other places, the entire country shuts down on Sunday as a day of rest. Americans do not fully understand this concept. Sure, some shops close on Sundays, but almost anything that you need to do can be accomplished on a Sunday in the states. I am guilty of this myself. I usually grocery shop on Sundays, prepare for the week, grab a bite to eat with a friend, and we even had Kappa Delta meetings on Sundays. This is a different culture.
After walking the deserted street for a while we soon realized where everyone had gone: Park Ejido was full of the life absent on the streets. Sundays are for families and friends. The entire park was full of children running, biking, and playing. Families had prepared picnics. Street venders sold watermelon slices and fried plantains. Whereas most of the parks around me in the U.S. go unused, this park was teeming with energy.
The highlight of the day was finding a juice stand that squeezed fresh fruit juice. The produce here looks amazing and we plan on returning for a daily fix! Because the city was dead and we were exhausted (packing our suitcases left us out of breath… hopefully we acclimate soon), we opted for a very low-key day.
I would suggest that if you plan to arrive in Quito on a Sunday as we did, either bring snacks for the day or plan on splurging on a tourist-priced meal. Do not expect to do many things, but relax and relish the atmosphere as a slow but necessary start to an adventure.