August 06, 2003

Life in Quito

Life in Quito is good! :)

Weekdays I'm in school from 8.30am to 5.30pm (including a two hour lunch break), so there's not much time for other things during the days. In the evenings there's usually something going on. Currently I'm sitting in an Internet cafe in the infamous Gringolandia (i.e. where all the white people hang out) having a beer. During the weekends I've done a lot of touristing with my family here.

The first weekend in Quito my family took me out for dinner on Friday night. Out of all places they could have chosen we ended up at TGI Fridays.. oh well :) It was a great night, and the Margharitas where pint sized, I kid you not! On Saturday we headed up to Otavalo a couple of hours drive north of Quito. Otavalo is famous for its market where you can find great deals on sweaters and wall ornaments. I ended up buying a wool sweater for $10 and a wallet/purse thing for $1.. definite bargains. We also visited a lagoon situated in a volcano crater.. very spectacular.

On Saturday night Juan took me to a birthday party of one of his friends. Talk about culture shock! First of all, the party was held in a house somewhere in the dodgier neighbourhoods of Quito. It was definitely not a safe area. When we got to the house, the living room was full of kids and grandparents. Soon enough they disappeared and the salsa started playing on the stereo. Before anyone had even seen any alcohol the floor was full of people dancing away. Would you ever see that in England/Finland? No. Furthermore, the drinking culture proved to be very different. Instead of each having a drink of their own, there was a guy walking around with a pitcher of a terrible mix of whiskey and soda water, and serving shot sized drinks out of a single glass. You got your shot and then the guy moved on to the next person. Weird.. but cool in some way.

On Sunday we drove south to one of the most beautiful volcanoes in Ecuador, Cotopaxi (which means "the neck of the moon" in Quichua, an indeginous language). Rising 5600m above sea level, the sight of the snow capped volcano was astonishing. One day I will climb the beast (apparently it's quite an easy climb).

The next week passed quietly until Thursday when we decided to go out with a few friends from the Spanish school after a tour of the main sights in the city organised by the school. Cheap drinks, good food and a few games of pool proved to be a great recipe for a great night out.

On Friday Juan again took me with him to another birthday party. This time the party was held in a bar, but since him and his friends are quite poor/cheap it looked like I was bound for a night on hard liquor again. As I didn't quite fancy the thought of waking up with a headache I decided to get some beers to the table. My jaw dropped when I realised the half litre beers only cost $1 each, and so I kept the beer flowing all night. Damage? Around $30(!) The bartenders were so happy with my custom that they kept serving me free whiskey and other good things all night. Muahahah! :)

On Saturday I met up with a girl, Silvia Perez, who works for the national committee of AIESEC in Ecuador. We met up in a bar called Green Olive on the outskirts of Gringolandia (nobody has heard of this place.. it took me 30 minutes and cost me $3 to find). We had a beer in the bar, and then we headed out to a Casino with two of her friends.. both of them girls, one from Ireland and the other from Hong Kong. Interestingly enough alcoholic drinks were free at the Casino which was a definite bonus. After two hours of playing Black Jack and slot machines I came out $15 plus.. which meant that I bought the drinks at Sutra, the bar we headed to afterwards. Definitely a great night out!

On Sunday we went to a football match with Juan and his girlfriend. The team to support is definitely La Liga. The game was a little on the quiet front as the opposition was the weakest team in the country, but since Juan is a member of the hardcore fanclub, Muerte Blanca (the White Death), we didn't really notice. The songs never stopped. Best of all, Liga won 3-0.

Yesterday, Monday, one of my friends from school, Reef (American, 33 years old) was having leaving drinks. First we had a few drinks at, the Internet cafe I'm currently sitting at, after which we headed to a restaurant called Mongo's for dinner (mongolian barbeque). We capped the night with a few games of pool and a few drinks.

.. and that's about where the story ends. It's Tuesday evening and I'm sitting here writing this log entry and having a beer.

More to come from me soon!

Posted by markus at August 6, 2003 07:52 PM
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