Michelle and Charlie's Around the World Trip 2004-2005 travel blog

the view from the window of the first hotel

Michelle on the equator (the one measured by GPS, not the French...

the "official" equator

me too! official equator

the cheap tourist hotel area. Not safe at night

play in the park

this picture "cost" me. the performer teased me for it for the...


statue on the mountain

waiting for red light

Michelle's Spanish teacher at the market


spanish colonial squares

one more of them

We had a great time in the Galapagos but it's nice to be on solid ground. Well, relatively solid that is because after 8 days on the boat we still felt like the ground was swaying under us for several days after. Especially at night, I'd wake up disoriented thinking why are we still on a boat?

Anyway, Quito is known as a good place to take Spanish classes -- there are just about a million schools here. Two of the girls on our boat had taken classes here and when we arrived I checked out the school and decided to take lessons for a week. I ended up taking private lessons for 4 hours a day. It was really good but really tiring. With private lessons I realized I couldn't zone out like in a normal class, which was probably a good thing. My teacher was very nice and the school had some fun programs like a free salsa lesson that I made Charlie do with me. ha ha.

While I was at my classes Charlie was walking around Quito site seeing and also going into tour agencies that offer trips into the jungle and rain forest in Ecuador.

Our days in Quito were mostly spent in the area around our hotel eating cheap almuerzos (lunches which are usually around 1.50 for 3 courses), etc. We had two short excursions. One was to "Mitad del Mundo" where they have a big monument where the equator is and some museums related to equator stuff. One funny thing was that there is a giant monument marking the equator, but then there is a museum outside the complex that claims to have the "real equator" as determined by GPS. According to them the big monument is on a spot determined to be the equator by some French guys 100 years ago...so I guess you be the judge. The big monument is nice, though. On the supposedly "real equator" they do some experiments like they have a sink of water and when you pull the plug on the equator it goes straight down the drain, move it to the Northern side of the line and it goes down counter clockwise and clockwise on the the Southern side. Of course, Charlie's scientist side was not satisfied with the conditions of the experiment because the water was still when they had it on the equator and then on the two sides they pour the water in and it isn't completely still when they pull the plug... He was nice enough not to mention this to our guide at the museum. (CLEM - I WAS THINKING ABOUT YOU WHILE NOT SAYING A WORD THAT THE EXPERIMENT WAS FLAWED - CHARLIE). The other experiment was to balance an egg on one end. I was able to balance it and got a certificate for my major achievement. woo hoo. I also got a certificate when I finished my five days of spanish classes. I'm going to hang these next to my diplomas when I get home.

We also had a rare opportunity to see Quito at night. This is rare because it's not what you'd call a safe city. Our guide book says you should take cabs starting at 6:00 pm even for short distances. That's probably a little paranoid but the streets definitely empty out at night except for an unsavory element. But, one of the teachers at the spanish school took 5 of us on a guided tour of the "old city" with the pretty churches and squares at night and we figured there's safety in numbers plus with local guides. (IN REALITY, THE MAIN SQUARE WAS FULL OF PROTESTORS WHICH WAS FUNNY BECAUSE THEY WERE PROTESTING THE GOVERNMENT THAT WAS ALREADY VOTED OUT A FEW DAYS EARLIER. WHY BOTHER PROTESTING A LAME DUCK GOVERNMENT? CHARLIE) She also treated us to a very strong drink that is apparently a popular ecuadorian cocktail and cheese and chicken empanads which were very tasty. The churches and squares and a hill from where you could see the city were all very pretty. Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures because we figured it was safer to leave the camera at the hotel...

On Friday night we celebrated the end of my classes and the end of our time in Quito with an outrageous splurge for dinner -- filet minon for $6.95! It was really good, too.

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