Saturday we staggered west towards the Community Adventures hostel for a hearty crepe breakfast and walking tour. Our backpacker group was a little too large; still it’s nice having a local introduction to key sites. We started at the Central Market – always a Sue favorite – and had a chance to scout out their well-regarded fish stands… mark that
for later. We strolled the classic sites – Plaza Grande with its Catedral Primeria and Palacia Gobierno, Plaza San Francisco & its twin-towered Church of San Francisco, the Quito Museum, the narrow 17th century bohemian La Ronda. Along the way our guide gave his spin on the upcoming presidential election and some of the histories and tragedies of these places – presidential murders and corruptions, the generally favorable and welcoming current conditions (indeed welcoming of both Venezuelan refugees and in the English embassy Wikileaks Julian Assange’). But the boys were beat there was gonna be trouble, so we ditched the tour and sought some calories back at the Central Market. Wow – the fish was fresh and light, and the sides of ceviche and cheesy popcorn were also a hit.
Under threatening skies we scurried back to our 4th floor walk-up apartment, avoided the temperamental shower and stained towels, and made do with some journaling and downtime before setting a plan for the evening. We kept it simple, hopping a taxi back to a local brewery near the Community Adventures hostel. The hostel guys
and TripAdvisor rated it well; the beer was passable but the burgers weren’t… my guess is the ratings were skewed buy bargain-hunting backpackers… this isn’t Bogota.
Lucky me – here I am in a Latin city on a Sunday which means of course… Ciclovia! I’ve learned that this is more fun for me
than for the family, so I left them early to scout for bikes then returned to check their plans. The low clouds made a ride up the TeleferiQo (cable car) seem unattractive, so they took a slow morning while Sue lined up a foodie tour with adequate stops for boy-pleasing bakeries and chocolates. I turned my mountain bike back around and hammered the pedals north in a quest for sites and exercise. There really wasn’t much to see – I passed some extravagant new federal construction, a closed bullfighting ring, and killed an hour biking about soggy, pretty Carolina Park and its cross-fit facilities. Reversing course I rode back to through town to the south, again the riding was better than the sightseeing, so after a second hour I returned to Old Town where the sites and crowds were thicker.
I’d toured Quito 24 years ago on a trip that included an Amazon and Galapagos tour, so set out in search of the street where I’d had my second pickpocket experience… a little old indigena couple razored my pocket in the streets behind the San Francisco church. I caught the cash before they did, grabbed the criminal but what can one do with a 4’ tall
septuagenarian thief? The local crowd was probably rooting for her more than me, so I let it go, happy to have my cash and a story. Today I’m a it’s harder for pickpockets to rob cyclists, so I felt more secure and took my time working my way through the streets.
Finally I locked the bike up northeast of the Church at the local clothing market – I needed a light jacket to replace the one I’d left in Mexico – and spent an hour walking the stalls and trying on layers, finally settling on a $20 fleece vest with zippered pockets. This I folded and tucked into my shorts before setting off in search of a wifi connection so that I might connect with Sue and the boys. This I found at an upscale chocolate/coffee shop near the Plaza Grande, and treat in hand I was about to call Sue on Whats/app when – lo and behold – I spied a handsome strapping lad in a coral raincoat and panama hat from across the plaza… my own son Max.
We caught up on each others’ mornings, then I locked my bike up and jumped on their
self-made tour. With the help of my iphone and the chocolate store’s wireless I routed us first we stopped at a Panama hat store, then towards the Plaza Grande and Sue’s panaderia target. From calle Juan Jose Flores we turned north on the pedestrian calle Eugenio Espejo, and that’s when it happened… (to be continued)