It's the last day of our "vacation" so after a leisurely breakfast we went for a walk on the beach. Yesterday it was packed with people and today .... nobody. We walked for almost 2 hours and were rewarded with views of several dolphins in the distance, jumping and playing. They were too far off to get a decent photo and the waves kept getting in the way.
We had to be out of the rooms so packed up our stuff and moved it to a locked room. After a quick swim we joined the girls for a beverage and ended up having a banana split. What looked like a parade started and we realized it was a funeral. Kids carrying various flower formations walked ahead of a casket carried by men and a truck with a loud speaker. They stopped at a store across the street where they opened the casket and several people looked in it and said things. There were lots of tears. A man spoke on the loud speaker and there was lots of music and then they left. A while later we were at the pool and we heard them come back. It was a long funeral!
Another lesson learned today. Just because locals are eating at a place, does not make it good. First, our order was taken by a man with no teeth, with long, dirty fingernails, wearing dirty denim shorts and a muscle shirt. Nearby were men playing cards, learning how to count and horking. The food was edible but not terribly tasty. To pay we had to go to a table with 3 apparently very lazy girls. I understand numbers very well but couldn't understand anything they said as even speech was lazy. We were a little concerned but never did get sick.
The night bus was another adventure. Our bags were loaded and then we all had to walk to the nearby police station where we lined up, men in one, women in the other. He barely checked my bag and I was allowed on the bus. Mike got the thorough search and pat down. Apparently he looks suspicious. I passed out gravol to help sleep but the seats weren't very comfortable and they'd randomly turn the lights on. Upon arrival in Quito shortly after 5 am we were accosted by taxis and salesmen. Not fun when you're barely coherent. We got our bags, loaded in a van and got to the hotel which, thankfully, had our rooms ready. Mike got an hour nap but I didn't dare sleep as I figured I'd just sleep all day.
We met the girls shortly before 8 and found the Magic Bean as it was recommended for breakfast. While eating we saw a man walk by on stilts and realized a parade of children was going by. The marching band members were even dancing. Together with the staff, we went outside to watch them and when it was over came back and finished eating. Breakfast was awesome so I checked out the rooms and ended up booking one for the three days we're here after the tour. The hostel is half the price of a hotel, includes breakfast and even has a kitchenette.
Next we hired a taxi to take us to the Telefonica. He wanted to take us elsewhere as he said it was cloudy but it's Cindy's only day in Quito. He wanted us to hire him for the day and he'd wait but we said no, we hadn't decided what to do yet. He wasn't happy and overcharged us for the taxi but oh well. The gondola ride up the mountain was gorgeous and we spent an hour or so at the top, taking photos and walking about. We didn't dare do the full hike. We went from sea level to Quito at 2,800 metres then up the gondola to 4,100 metres. I was already feeling head achy and nauseous.
We walked down the hill to the bus stop, asked the driver "Historical centre" He nodded happily, $1 per person and we got on. He dropped us off near the basilica and we commenced walking...and walking. There were lots of interesting sights in old town. People making shoes, sewing, people everywhere. I got a photo of a man with a rabbit on his shoulder dressed as a ballerina. Never a dull moment.
Too exhausted to walk any further we decided to attempt a trolley. For a quarter you can go anywhere but it sure is crammed!
Back at the hotel we enjoyed the sunshine in the courtyard. The others came in slowly and shared what they'd done all day. I don't think we'll have any trouble filling those 3 days we have on our own afterwards in Quito. It's really nice when it's not raining!
Dinner at the Fried Banana was delicious and great fun with a bun of goofy people. Again we've been blessed with wonderful traveling companions :D