First impressions of Quito: A New World!

Arriving in Quito was like arriving in a new dimension, a new world. The town and lifestyle are so different to what we are used to in our western culture.

Located in the Andine mountains, Quito has a beautiful colonial-style architecture. The city is over 40km long from South to North and situated at an altitude of 2850m. This high altitude level makes it uncomfortable at first due to the lack of oxygen, but you quickly get acclimatized to this aspect, as well as to strolling around the town that is packed with hills (being in the mountains!). The Old Town is gorgeous to walk around, with many churches, museums etc. to visit, as well as the many parks to stroll around and relax in with the sun on your back! If you go up onto the very top heights, the views of the city are simply spectacular.

The lifestyle here is very different from what we are used to. To begin with, it is weird to see so many people selling things in the street. Not only do they sell fruit and food, but also random things like scarves, lottery tickets, bags, hats, chocolate bars… Some have little stands where they stay all day selling newspapers, sweets, cigarettes, etc… and others walk around selling their fruit, bags or even plants ! They shout out the price of their products while walking along which is something we don’t see back in Europe (or at least in France or England!).

It is also very astonishing at first to see kids and elderly working. The kids generally sell products on the market with their parents, or wax shoes. Elderly people also work, like the younger ones.
I’m always impressed each time I see people walking up the hills with enormous bags on their backs, full of things to sell. I find it hard to just walk up a hill, let alone carry a bag half my weight up! So Ecuadorians seem to be hard-working, but they also know how to have fun. There are many activities here, from domestic activities like learning how to knit and decorate cakes, to party nights out! There are also a lot of cultural events and concerts. It’s a town where everyone can find an activity they like to do or would like to start doing.

Food-wise, there are many things to discover . Although they eat a lot of rice and potatoes, they also have many exotic fruits, and a lot of vegetables. You can also taste empanadas, humitas, local ice cream… It is said that they have great coffee too, but I couldn’t say as I don’t drink it. You’ll have to come and try it out yourself!

Although I’ve just arrived in Quito, I’m enjoying it a lot and learning quickly about all there is to do around here. Also, being the capital city, it’s a great departure point for visiting Ecuador. There are many things to do in the Andine region, such as visit the Cotopaxy volcanoe (highest active volcanoe of the world), the Quilotoa laguna, the Otavalo market (a very very VERY big market, especially on Saturdays!)… You can also go to the jungle from Quito, to the Pacific coast and, maybe the best: to the Galapagos Islands! I have not yet done any of these tours except for the Cotopaxy volcanoe (amazing!), and I’m looking so forward to visiting the other places, but everything in its’ time….

Written by: Chesca Lonbay