Toronto to Miami to Quito

We were woken up at three this morning to the sounds of a women somewhere in our condo having a very good time (either with someone or herself). Bit of a disorienting thing to wake up to, even more so when you don’t know exactly where it’s coming from. Our window was open. Obviously hers was too but where? Was she next door? The floor above? The floor below?

Despite these questions (and more) I managed to fall back to sleep with relative ease. We woke up properly at 6:30, eating a quick breakfast of eggs, packing the last few things and then heading out to catch the subway.

Even through it takes an hour to get to the airport on public transport, we’ve done it enough that the time doesn’t actually feel all that long. I was also engrossed in another book by Jay Bell, the third in his series, and couldn’t bear to be away from it for long.

Checking in was fine. Going through US Customs was hideous as always. For some reason, Glen and I now can’t go on the same form, because we’re not legally married, even though we live in the same household. I’ll have to reread the form. Glen started to speak up, which sets me on edge because I just want to get through as quickly as possible. How conditioned I am. We also had to throw out Glen’s apples and…anyway. Going through border control irritates the hell out of me, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Flight from Toronto to Miami was fine. We had an exit row. The flight was over three hours long but I had my book to read. Walking down the aisle to the toilet I was amused to see how many people had fallen asleep (and not in any pretty way either). It wasn’t even late, but then again, I don’t know how early all these people were up. Some might have come from a great distance.

Also interesting was that on this flight they had wifi and no message to turn off electronics during take off and landing. That’s a first for me.

We landed in humid and warm Miami (a momentary pang for Toronto’s cooler weather). We’d been told the gate for our flight to Quito would be D42, which meant taking the skytrain all the way to the end of the airport. We had some lunch, bought a waterproof casing for Glen’s phone, then went to our gate.

Only to find it had moved to D20.

Luckily we had plenty of time because we had to take the train back a couple of stops. Boarded the plane, exit rows again (yay!) and settled in for our four hour flight to Quito, Ecuador. We left an hour or so late as there was a problem with one of the emergency exit doors (not us luckily). It was eventually fixed and off we went.

Glen got chatty with an American guy called Peter who was sitting in the window seat of our row. He’s gone to Ecuador for a month holiday, just hanging out. He spent eight months in Guatemala once too. Lives in Alaska but likes to travel.

Landing in Quito we went through immigration with no trouble. It’s very different not seeing English everywhere and trying to wrap my head around Spanish. I’ve never been in a Spanish speaking country before and only now how to say very few things (some of which I remember from Fawlty Towers).

Thankfully our luggage arrived. Unlike our other trips transiting through the US, this time we didn’t have to collect our luggage in the US and then recheck it for our next destination. At least that’s what the flight attendant said. As minutes ticked by and more and more luggage that weren’t ours came out the chute, I began to worry we had been given wrong information. But then it arrived and we went through customs and outside to get a taxi.

Unlike what I’d read in the guidebook, our taxi didn’t have a meter and I started to panic, but the price the driver quoted was on par with what I’d read (strangely though 25 sounds a lot like 50, or so it sounds to me, that I was worrying about that too). Soon my worries about money were forgotten as I feared we may never get to our hotel because the taxi driver dodged and weaved like a rally driver.

Getting in a taxi should be the most terrifying experience of our lives yet we treat it with as the sanest thing in the world. You get in a car with a strange person who you are trusting won’t get you killed.

Of course, we made it. The hour long taxi drive took us from the sparseness of the airport to the crowded downtown city of Quito. Crumbling buildings gave way to American style shopping malls. We also drove through clouds as Quito is the second highest city in South America.

We arrived at the hotel and I gave the taxi driver $30 instead of $25, thinking that an hour long taxi drive in Perth would have cost about four times that much.

We are staying at the Radison, which is fairly standard as far as hotels go but a comfort as it looks so familiar. The room is nice, so is the hotel. Oh and we were given a welcome shot glass drink that is some Ecuadorean specialty, made of cinnamon, passion fruit, something else and sugar. Very tasty.

After dumping our bags, we went for dinner in the hotel restaurant. Both of us ordered Ecuadorean specialties though really Glen’s was just two fried eggs, steak, rice and chips. I had coconut breaded shrimp with deep fried plantains (they just taste like chips).

It’s still early in Quito now (at a quarter to ten) but I’m tired, not confident in going outside to check the place out, and we have to get up early to catch our flight to the Galapagos.

I can’t believe we’re in South America.

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