I started off with some McDonald's, and started looking for a place to stay. I'd starred a little place called Casa Helbling on my map, but I couldn't for the life of me remember why. I decided to check it out anyway, and after deciding it was pretty nice little place, I checked in. The place is a large house with a number of different areas, and lots of small private or shared rooms spread out. Toss in a few eccentric German guys at the desk (and one cute Ecuadorian girl), and it was a winning choice. I later figured out from talking to the owner that Mitch (who I'd shared a shipping container with from Panama to Colombia) had stayed there, and I'd marked it after reading what he'd said about it.
First stop was to get some food. I got a recommendation from a local (that I may or may not have been talking to on Tinder) that there was a place around the corner from my hostel that brewed their own beers. Good enough for me, so I stopped by and had a few beers. The food also all sounded amazing, but I ended up going for something that I hadn't had for a really long time - coconut shrimp. You don't find that much down this way, and if you do it's usually not done nearly as well as this place did it, so I was in heaven (even if it did cost $10).
|A good selection of craft brews.|
|Some of the buildings are really cool.|
|Stopped in this '70s spaceship diner for some breakfast.|
|I gave this woman some money - she was really good.|
|Statues in the square.|
|My barber was in one of the stone doorways on the left.|
|Talked to this guy for a bit about his bike, and then snapped a pic when I saw him in traffic a few minutes later.|
|Every once in a while I'd catch an awesome view of the hills around the city through a street.|
|Another big square.|
I wandered around the streets thinking about going into a bar and dancing for a bit, but found myself turned off by the people who were wandering around the area - mostly the guys. Besides the guys who would come up to me and say (in English) "Sup bro, how's it going?" and then would get pissed if I didn't stay to have a conversation long enough for them to offer me drugs, there were also guys grabbing girls, catcalling them, and a bunch of other expressions of the "machismo" culture that dominates much of Latin America. I got turned off by it pretty quickly and headed back to the hostel to play guitar for the evening.
The next day I was planning on taking the cable car up the mountain and doing a hike to the nearby peak. I'd heard it was pretty hard, but I'd given myself a day to acclimate to the altitude and I'm still in pretty decent shape despite not having worked out much on this trip besides a few hikes. Unfortunately, I hadn't acclimated as much as I thought, and I woke up in the morning having trouble breathing - while just laying in bed. I would be breathing normally, and then on an exhale would just find myself desperate for a breath.
So that plan got canceled for the day, and instead I decided to walk over to Freedom Bike Rental, a motorcycle rental shop that sets people up for multi-day tours of Ecuador with bikes and all the gear they'll need. They're pretty well known on some of the motorcycle forums, and for good reason - they were awesome guys. Court and Sylvain (an American and a French guy) are fun to talk to about adventures and super helpful - they took their giant whiteboard map of Ecuador and gave me routes to take on my way south, even though they were busy outfitting two Canadians for a week-long trip.
|You can tell the Canadian because he's got the Canadian tuxedo on. That's Court in the back.|
|Street art on the way to the plaza.|
|The sign in the center of Plaza Foch. Clever.|
|It wasn't a bad bouldering wall, but I missed having defined and labeled routes like I had back in San Diego.|
|Yup, time to quit.|
|When I got back from climbing, this little girl was walking by saying "Moto! Moto! Moto!" over and over again, so I let her try it out for a bit.|
I had originally planned on leaving Quito on Sunday, but decided I'd hang around one more day. (It might have been influenced by me deciding to meet up with the girl from the day before one more time.) I spent the morning hanging around the hostel, and then made a trip over to Freedom Bike Rental once again, this time to rent a helmet from them. Nice guys that they are, they let me use it for free when they heard it was to take a girl on a ride.
So in the afternoon I went to pick up Felixbel and we went on a ride around the city. As I didn't know my way too well, I basically just picked out a few curvy highways outside the city to stay out of traffic, and cruised. There really aren't many things in life better than being on a motorcycle in good weather, on curvy roads, with a girl on the back. Eventually I ended up heading back into town and went by a big park, so we left the motorcycle in the parking lot and wandered through the park for a bit, seeing a BMX competition in a skate park, some awesome street art, and some cute puppies. After relaxing in the park for a bit, we headed back towards my part of town and got some dinner, followed by me playing some guitar in the hostel before she headed back to her place. I rested up for the ride the next day by getting a good night's sleep, and then headed out in the morning to the south.
|Really cool mural in the park.|
|A view of some of the buildings on the hills on my way out of town.|