Thursday, August 11, 2011

Great trip to Quito, Ecuador

This month I was surprised to learn that I actually held, what we call, a 'line' for the month of August. It's a set schedule that is paired with other flight attendants as well as a specific aircraft type. This month, I held a line that had three 31-hr layovers in Quito, and three 3-day trips to San Jose, Costa Rica, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

On my last trip to Quito, I went out with two other flight attendants around the city. We agreed to meet down in the lobby of the hotel around 11am, and try to figure out what we were going to do. After talking with the concierge, he suggested that we hike up a volcano, after riding a Gondola, see the Equator, and if we had time, then an old volcano crater.

So, with his suggestion, we hopped in a taxi and off we went. First stop, the Teleferiqo Gondola ride. Quito's altitude starts off at 9,252 ft, almost twice as high as Denver, Colorado. Though because it sits only 25 kilometers from the Equator, Quito does not suffer through long winters like the Mile High City. On the contrary, Ecuador's capital enjoys mild days and cool nights almost year-round. The climate in the Andes varies according to the altitude and the time of the year. In Quito the temperature ranges from 55 F at night to 78 F.

With 13,287ft over the sea level the Teleferiqo Gondola is the highest in the world and for that reason you have to take care of high altitude sickness. Wind was pretty intense so thankfully I brought a light jacket to stay warm. Surprisingly, it was warm in the valley, but once we got to the start of the Pichincha Volcano hiking path, it was windy and cool.  The day was near picture perfect. I would have loved to have walked all the way to the volcano, however due to being so high up, our breathing became pretty labored and we had to take it easy.  Besides, our taxi driver said that he would wait for us and that we told him we would be roughly an hour. I must say, that hour went by extremely fast! I could have spent all day up here, but there were more things to go see.

So back to the Gondola and down we went. It was weird seeing a few mountain tops off in the distance with snow tops on them. Once back at the bottom, we found our taxi driver and off to the Equator we went. Apparently, about 400-600 years ago the city decided to erect a monument where they initially thought was the equator. However, with today's technology and the GPS, it was off by 787ft. So, with that, we went to the new area where the GPS shows accurate. We paid for a guide that showed us some heritage of the Amazon, and showed us some of the animals that are native to the land. A spider that is larger than my hand, boa constrictors, amazon worms, and the toothpick fish that actually is attracted to the ammonia from urine (so don't urinate in the amazon!)

After a fun time going through the museum and seeing a few hummingbirds fly around, our taxi driver asked if we wanted to see the where the largest volcanic eruption occurred in 1660 when more than 10 in of ash covered the city. Now, it's settled and farmers have started to farm over the area.

It was such a fun filled day, I truly can't wait to go back and see more of the old-town Quito. I hear there are more museums that talk about the rich history of the area!

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