We had two major goals for our day. The first was to book a tour to Cotopaxi and the second was to book a taxi to the airport for our flight to Manta. We made the mistake of booking a 6:25 am flight from Quito to Manta on New Year’s Day. New Year’s is a big deal in Quito there are parties in the streets and every family either makes or buys a life sized straw puppet called a ano viejos ” the old ones”. The traditional homemade ones are made with old clothes but there are also stalls full of viejos of cartoon characters and masks of famous political figures which can be put on your homemade viejos. At midnight everyone sets fire to them in the street. A sort of out with the old and in with the new.
Very cool but it was also going to make getting a cab at 3:00 am on New Year’s Day difficult. We don’t speak Spanish well enough to call a cab and explain where we are in the middle of the night and we were told the airport taxi would not take a reservation for that day. We set off to the new town, la mariscal on a new bus and discovered Plaza Foch, which is backpacker party central in Quito. There are several adventure tour companies and even more night clubs.
We also found a tourist info/ help place just off the plaza. They spoke English and went well out of their way to help us book a cab for 3:00am New Year’s Day. We had to prepay but we left feeling pretty sure the taxi would arrive. We also discovered latter that they would hold your bags for you.
While we were in the neighbourhood we stopped at The Magic Bean a hostel and coffee shop. I ordered chocolate con queso, a hot chocolate with cheese. I was not sure what I was going to get but it turned out to be exactly that. The cheese was cubes of the local soft cheese. The hot chocolate was excellent not so sure about the cheese. We did not have any but the pancakes looked great. The prices were almost North American, the highest we had seen in Ecuador.
We decided to walk home. It was a long walk but we had ridden part of it on bike Sunday so we knew where we were. We stopped at Parque El Ejido a popular local park. We bought a fruit salad from a street vendor for $1 and ate it on a bench.
We noticed that they were renting peddle cars for kids, bikes and even some elderly looking tandem bikes. We rented one for 30 minutes it cost us $3 which I am sure was too much but we took it anyway. We rode around the park completely out of control yelling “caution, caution” at anyone dumb enough to get in our way. We did not hit anyone! But it did not handle like my carbon tri bike.
We continued walking towards Basillica del Voto Nacional with the intention of going up to the top of the spire to see the view. We got turned around somehow (the streets of Quito are somewhat confusing) after we figured out where we were we headed back in the right direction and found a bus stop.
Quito has buses, metro buses and trole ecovia the destination of a bus is in the window of the bus but there are no route maps. There is an online route planner but that’s no help when you are at a bus stop with no data plan.
Not surprisingly we got on the wrong bus, it looked like we were going the right way but then we turned onto the highway! We got off at the first stop which was further than we had hoped and waited for the same bus to come the other way. We went back to where we started and managed to get some directions in broken English. They told us to go back a station and transfer to a different line but they were not very specific about which one. We went back and got on a bus we thought might be right. At this point we agreed that we would take a cab if it did not work. We did get close to where we wanted to be but by the time we got there the stairs to the top of the spire were closed for the day!