Category: Ecuador, 2015

On the Way to Quito

June 16, 2015
Well, we’re off to Ecuador. This is a special trip for us, for reasons I’ll disclose in a later post.

But, for now, thoughts about what’s ahead.

Compared to what we’re used to, this should be an easy trip. We fly through Miami to Quito, and the flight to Quito is just over four hours (that is, assuming we make our Miami connection, as we have only an hour and a quarter). Once we get to Quito, the birding lodges we’ll go to are all less that three hours drive. Quito is on the same time as Chicago, which makes a huge difference in ease of adjustment to the flights. And we don’t even need to change money, or worry about conversion rates, because Quito uses the US dollar. Nice of them, eh?

Carol and I have been to, or really through, Ecuador once before. When we went to the Galápagos Islands, probably thirteen years ago or so, we flew through Guayaquil, as that’s where one flied to the Galápagos from. We only spent one night there, as its industrial and not very safe. The trip to the Galápagos was terrific, and became a great influence on our future travel. Having been there, we knew we needed to go to Africa, where we’ve now traveled ten times. Not only were the Galápagos great, but on the same trip we traveled to Peru, including Machu Picchu.

I do have a few doubts about this trip, though. First and foremost is the altitude. Quito is over 9,000 feet (a bit of trivia: Quito is the highest capital city in the world), and the spots we’re going to in the Andes are higher. We have some meds, though, and I’m trusting that they will do the trick.

Second concern is that the only serious birding we’ve done before was in the Pantanal in Brazil last year. We really enjoyed it, and are hoping that this will be equally captivating for us. Related to this is that I got a new camera with a long lens for shooting bird shots and really have not taken sufficient time to learn it. I’ll try to muddle through, though, and the worst case, that I only see, but can’t photograph the birds, would not be tragic. Actually, I suppose that worse than that would be to be unable to find the birds in the new binoculars we’ve bought for the trip. Birds are small, fast and far away, which is not very nice of them.

This will be a short trip for us, 9 days and 8 nights, but because the distance is not too great and we have only a single purpose, birding, that should be manageable. In any case, I’m looking forward to this getaway for just the two of us, after a trip to Namibia with a group of eight, plus a leader and guides.

Glad that you’re along, though, and hope that hearing about how we went out each day and saw birds won’t make for dull reading. I’ll try to spice it up, somehow.

So, we’re en route to Miami, and I encounter three serious problems. First, I work one of those damn Sodukos in the airline magazine. The hard one, only it’s not hard, it’s impossible. I finally crack it, I think, only to find that I’ve made a mistake. And you can’t fix mistakes in Sodukos. I hate these damn, defective Sodukos.

So, then, as the “fasten seat belt sign” is not on, I decide to use the lavatory, since my hands are full of ink from that damn, defective Soduko. And I have another reason, too, which a sense of decorum prevents my disclosing. By the way, did you ever notice how airplanes are the only places that have lavatories, instead of bath rooms or wash rooms? Anyway, I wait outside my lavatory. And the lavatory across the way changes hands (or, maybe, butts) four times, but mine is still occupied. Finally, I knock, which succeeds in convincing some lady that maybe she needs to share her lavatory. Harrumph. I mean, really.

Anyway, I had picked up the Soduko and gone to the lavatory to avoid having to read a book of essays, the first of which I read the other day and did not understand, but which have been assigned as reading for our book group. So, I no longer have an excuse to avoid it, so I tap the Kindle app on my iPad, and the damn thing won’t open. Frankly, I don’t know whether this is good news or bad news. But, harrumph again.

I become so bored–and Carol, who is reading a real book/book won’t talk to me–that I fill out an application for another credit card I don’t need or want, which promises me 50,000 miles that I probably won’t use and waives the $95 annual fee, but renews automatically and I’ll forget to cancel and then have to wait on the phone for 27 minutes and argue with them to cancel the fee. And that’s a fourth serious problem.

So, I have nothing left to do but blog about these travails. Sorta makes you wish for more Ecuadorian history, doesn’t it?

Made our connecting flight to Quito with no difficulty. And so did one of our bags–Carol’s. Spent ages waiting for my bag, then making a claim. They say the bag is in Miami and will arrive at 1PM tomorrow. We’ll see. Shouldn’t take me long to decide what to wear.

After we clear customs, we are met by our very cute guide, Diana, who has lived briefly in California and DC, and is the single mother of 6-month old Sophie, Diana drives us about 45 minutes to our hotel, in the center of Quito. Our travel agent had originally booked us into a large, upscale chain hotel, but I asked whether there wasn’t something with a local flavor, so we are at Casa Gangotena Hotel, which is a former private home, and spectacularly elegant. The fellow at the check-in desk asked us for a copy of our claim check and said they’d follow up tomorrow. Clearly, we are not the first to have lost our bags. Though it’s midnight, he brings out finger sandwiches and has toilet articles and a shirt (!) brought up to the room. I’ve almost forgotten about damn American Airlines. We shower and retire.

5 comments to On the Way to Quito

  • Barbara Sandler

    Good Morning, Brother Arnold!

    Hope your impressive calm is rewarded. Easy
    access to the the can. A smiling, intact suitcase
    at your door.

    Frankly, as an adjunct traveler on your trips, I welcome a less frenetic pace. And all the perks of time and money symmetry. Guess I need not remind you of my longstanding and profound connection to birds. Or, of your early interest in, “Birding.”

    I look forward to details of this new adventure. Complete, of course, with the joys and inevitable travails of travel.

    Love from your much younger sister (Barbara)

  • Paul Woo

    Looking forward to reading your blog and seeing photos Arnie. The heck with WTTW – you and Carol are my widow to the world (eh-eh).

    We are well. Jere graduates this weekend!

  • Paul Woo

    Ooops – make that window!

  • Rough, Boppp, very rough!

    I’ll keep in touch…


  • Zoe

    Sorry I have not read this blog until today. I will try to catch up.


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