The Equator and the Firecrackers
Today I woke up early and set out for the Equator! It is about a thirty minute (and $20) drive from the heart of Quito through the outskirts of the city. There is quite a bit of debate over the exact correct location of the Equator, but I chose to visit the more common tourist location, as there is much more to see and do. When you arrive you see a massive monument in the distance marking the Equator. Admission was not too expensive ($8) and gives you access to museums, the shops, the Equator monument, and even llamas!
When I entered I walked around to get a feel for everything there was to see. I took my obligatory pictures standing over the Equator line and then set out to see the llamas. They were pretty cute! I then took pictures with the “Middle of the World” giant letters before climbing up the monument. From the top of the monument, you can see the beautiful hills surrounding the area. You take an elevator to the top, but take the stairs down through a museum about Ecuador and the Equator.
I then ate lunch at one of the many restaurants (my choice was not a great one, but I had a good view so it was not too bad) and then I watched a cultural dance performance. Next, I headed to the chocolate museum, then to a museum about the Equator’s discovery, and lastly to view a miniature of the city of Ecuador. Everything was included in the price of admission, and it was a pretty full half day adventure! I took a taxi back to my hotel, said goodbye to brownie the bunny, and then took another taxi (my same driver from this morning) to the airport.
I had Johnny Rockets for dinner in the airport. Lame, I know, but also I really wanted chicken fingers and an Oreo milkshake and there were few other options so it was actually a great comfort food meal. After dinner, I took a two-hour flight to Lima, Peru. The flight was fine but the airport was a nightmare.
I think tonight was absolutely the most frustrated I have been on my trip, followed by the most scared. The Lima airport is a free-for-all for the cab drivers, which in my opinion benefits absolutely no one. It just terrifies travelers, and causes drivers to compete vigorously with each other. After exiting the terminal I was bombarded with requests for taxis. This is nothing new - I have seen it in many countries so far. However, one taxi driver would not leave me alone, and I grew very angry telling him no over ten times. It took me growing visibly angry to get him to leave me alone. It is crazy to me that an airport for such a large city has such a poor system in place. All of this was going on while my Uber driver took forever to find me. While he took forever, I was completely relieved to get away from the airport. But my night of fun was not over yet!
I arrived at my hotel, TUPAC Airport Hostel, around 10pm. Thank you so much to TUPAC for sponsoring two nights of my trip! It was definitely a hostel, but I had my own room and everyone was very nice. Around midnight, however, I heard what I thought were about 5-10 gunshots in very close proximity. I was definitely panicked - I hid in the bathroom and spent thirty minutes trying to get in touch first with the hotel and then, when that proved unsucessful, with the US Embassy.
I got through to a really helpful guy at the embassy who was eventually able to get in touch with the hotel. The hotel was very apologetic and sent someone up to my room to make sure that I was okay and to explain that the neighborhood right behind my hotel regularly sets off firecrackers on Sunday nights. I was fine, especially after ten minutes or so of not hearing anything other than the initial loud pops. However, it was still a scary situation in the moment. I really appreciate how helpful the US Embassy was! They even let me know that I did exactly the right thing in the situation.
After the whole ordeal, it took me a few hours to fall asleep. I knew I was safe, but according to my Apple Watch my heart rate was at about 130 for a while after the incident, so I was just wide awake. Eventually, though, I fell asleep. Looking forward to exploring Lima tomorrow!
24 countries down, 172 to go.
Read about my first day in Ecuador here.
To learn more about Hostal de La Rabida click here.
To learn more about TUPAC Airport Hostel click here.