The day to day stuff. not very exciting, sorry.

August 19, 2006

hello heloo helooooo

I have returned to the metropolitan hub of Quito. Hah – right! After 5 days in Pintag Dewsbury would be a cosmopolitan mecca. I’ll try and keep this brief… but this is what I’ve been up to.

Last weekend… amid panic re hand luggage limits and terrorist scares, Sally left for a month in England. She came back from the airport 5 hours later. Problem with the plane. 

So my lazy, tourist Sunday turned into work and a trip to the park with Karin (German lady, lived here for years, has a big doberman.) Sally’s on left with Fraser and Karin’s on the right with Frayer.

 Sally and Karin in Parque Metropolitano Bellavista

As you can see from the pic, the “park” isn’t exactly a boating lake and lawns… it’s more of a wilderness with Eucalyptus trees. (Think ‘Hoge Felue’ in Holland). And yes, if it looks hot in the pic, it really was. 

Warning, rare photo of me coming up…

And 10 out of 10 if you spotted that I am…

1. wearing unsuitable footwear (Berks are no good for negotiating hills on dry and slippy eucalyptus leaves)
2. Carrying a fairly heavy bag full of things I didn’t need (bag was pressie from Sally from Mexico)
3. Wearing a hat that doesn’t fit, so my head doesn’t get burnt again (have even taken to wearing a headscarf in Pintag so I don’t get burnt. And if you think you’re getting a pic of that you’ve got to be kidding!)
4. No thinner and not tanned.

Behind me in the pic is the full width of the city of Quito. It’s between 3 and 5k wide. But over 50k long at least. Up on the hillside, although you can’t make it out, it also says “FIDEL” in large white letters. There’s a lot of support for Castro here and not much for the Yanks.

Later that evening Sally did leave for England and I had dinner with a new acquaintance, Jordan. (Jordan – no pics yet – is 25, from Texas and a very nice and clever American. She just did a Masters at the London School of Economics and now lives in Ecudador with her ‘nobio’ (boyfriend) Juan Carlos – shortened to “Jaun-che”. Jaunche has a great Tex Mex restaurant in Mariscal, Quito.)

On Monday Patricio came wearing his best city clothes, hair slicked back etc., to take me  to Pintag. Normally I get the bus, but this time there was me, Fraser (the dog), a months worth of food and the car which Patricio is taking into the garage. I think it’s funny, to see Patricio all dressed up when he comes into the city, but I guess in reality he really doesn’t earn a lot (about US$350 per month) and it’s a big trip out for him in the boss’s car.

I’d loaded up on shopping the day before, so Pintag is now well stocked with a few choice items… avocados which are amazing out here, roasted sweetcorn – very nice healthy snack, and lupin seeds (see boring pic below), which go well with natural yogurt.

I also have chocolate biscuits and crisps – just in case any of you thought I was starving myself. As if.

The drive of about an hour up to Pintag takes longer with Patricio as we call in and do little errands (and make the most of having Sally’s nice car to drive around in).

This time we called in at the tool shop… Ooooo, contain yourselves, believe me, life really is this exciting.

Tool shop between Quito and Sangolqui

Patricio’s really into tools (is it a man thing?) and this time we were buying cement to block up the nasty mouse holes in the house. Other mouse holes have also appeared in the bodega where we keep the tack, and as I reached out for a halter the other day a little black tail scuttled past. Eugh! (I think they just wait for me, no-one else seems to see them nearly as often.) My small yelp elicited a scramble of nearby men into the bodega (Patricio and Victor the farrier wielding brushes and shovels), I quite like this machismo they’ve got going on over here. The mouse escaped. 

Whilst Patricio bought the cement I took pictures of the ‘ferreteria’ (tool shop), traffic (a local bus, just like the ones I catch) and the wood yard across the street. Wow heh.

Typical Ecuadorian bus

The bus costs a whopping 65 cents for the hour and a half of journey. It’s a bit like a rollercoaster, fast on the downhills, groaning on the uphills, and slipstreaming behind big trucks and pickups loaded with family members, then popping out on blind corners to overtake. 

Contain yourselves… here’s the woodyard pictures. Some nice carvings. Don’t know what the animals are supposed to be though, any ideas?

 A rather nifty carved bedhead. 

Another carved bedhead

And some chairs at the woodyard

Anyway, we made it to Pintag, and I managed to disuade Patricio from taking me down cuy (guinea pig) avenue again to see all the guinea pigs being roasted on spits. He thinks cuy is muy rico (really good to eat) and keeps trying to pursuade me to buy some. No gracias.

Here’s a couple of other shots taken out of the car on the drive up…

 Somewhere between Sangolqui and Pintag

Driving into Pintag

Above: Pintag. Huge social scene, clearly. 

At this point, I took over driving. It’s likely I’ll end up driving on the tours at some point and I need to practice.

No, not practice driving.

Practice avoiding potholes.

Plenty of potholes out here, oh and hidden speed bumps, which they call ‘chapas muerte’ (dead policemen, instead of sleeping ones) (Knocked down by the dreadful motorists I expect).

The rules of the road are a little different here.

1. It is totally okay to drive on the wrong side of the road, head-on into other traffic, if the potholes on your side are bad. You can then swerve at the last minute and avoid a crash.

2. It is okay to play chicken with huge trucks whilst doing the above.

3. You really don’t need indicators, head lights etc. So long as you have a horn you’re fine. You can honk for any or no reason at all – you might, quite reasonably, honk because someone’s backing out into the road to tell them you’re there, or less understandably you might just honk as you drive past someone on a dual carriage way… just in case they were thinking of changing lanes. You obviously honk when you know someone, and it’s a small place, everyone knows everyone. You honk all the time if you’re a taxi, as a warning to other drivers and to try and pick up fares. Patricio must have used the horn about 40 times on the drive up to Pintag and I ended up driving with one hand poised over the horn… just in case. Somehow it doesn’t seem excessive when you’re here.

4. Double lines in the middle of the road can be ignored. And double overtakes can be attempted on blind corners if the trucks/cars/buses infront aren’t going fast enough.

Incidentally, I think you’re far more likely to be run over in Ecuador than anything else bad happen. Nothing indicates, crossing points are only a suggestion and all pedestrians have to sprint to cross the big streets in town.

Geez where does the time go? It’s nearly midnight and I’ve agreed to meet an English guy called Tim tomorrow at 8am. We’re catching a bus for an hour or so to a place called Papallacta to do a 5 hour walk (!!! I know, insane!) that ends up at some volcanically heated hot springs which I’ll need a swimsuit for – yaaaaay!!

Going to go sleep. ‘Night night.

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3 Responses to “The day to day stuff. not very exciting, sorry.”

  1. Andrew M Says:

    We’ve heard about the eruption of Tungurahua. I know it isn’t close to you, but is it affecting you at all?

  2. Whirley Says:

    Hey, yes Tunguragua’s all over the news, people fleeing their homes with washing up bowls on their heads to avoid the falling rocks and stuff. But no, apart from sending us some cloudy weather I’ve not been affected yet. There’s also a locally held opinion that it would be better if the volcano did blow and get the whole will-it-won’t-it-thing, orange/red-state-of-alert over with. It’s certainly looking like it might do something big soon, plenty of red stuff coming out the top. I’ll try and update my Volcan Tungurahua page in a day or two.

  3. mum haywood Says:

    How can plenty of red stuff coming out of the top of a nearby volcano be mundane. Keep the fastest horse at hand and the camera charged. Concerned mum


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