Well, it had to happen. Our trip has come to a close. I'm typing this blog entry at 30,000 feet as we head to Miami.
This morning we had no problem making it to the relatively new and fancy airport, but for the life of us, we didn't see any signs saying where to return our rental car. So, we pulled up at the arrivals area and I ran inside. Luckily, the Avis rep was there at 4:45am. He told us to just leave the car parked along the curb and that he would take care of everything. And so we left our rental car in a spot that would have triggered an airport shutdown in the States and just walked away.
This contrast of having a modern Airport with old-school relaxed policies, captures well our experience in Ecuador. It was like zipping along on major highway and seeing cows grazing along the roadside and pedestrians playing Frogger trying to get across. It's a nice mixture and makes for a fun place to visit.
Here are some other observations about Ecuador, and Quito in specific. Food and gas can be had for cheap! All the gas stations we saw are selling gas for $1.48 per gallon. We had lunch in one random restaurant in Quito where Shira and I both had a large juice, soup, pasta and a fruit cup for desert and the total bill was just over $8.00. That was one heck of a meal for $4.00 each. And as I've already mentioned, the fruit market was a similar experience in terms of value.
Quito has to be among the most scenic locations we've ever visited. Nearly everywhere we looked there's a gorgeous view. Unlike, say, South Africa where one mountain dominates the skyline, here every direction you look is filled with picturesque mountains, as well as constantly shifting fluffy white clouds. I found myself pleading with Shira at every curve of the road to stop and let me snap some photos.
The best piece of advice we received was from our friend Abbie who suggested we rent a car. A number of sources on the web cautioned against this. I'm glad we ignored them. Yes, taxis in Quito are cheap. But, Quito is huge, so being able to just jump in the car and go somewhere was absolutely key for us. Sure, the driving is a bit on the crazy side, but nothing Shira couldn't handle. On top of all that, the twisty mountain roads would have guaranteed a very carsick wife had she not been driving.
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed Ecuador. It had the outdoorsy activities we love so much, plenty of delicious foods to try and breathtaking views. Definitely check it out!
Oh, and sorry about the lack of photos from today. We started the day at 4:30am and were at the airport before sunrise. Heck, I didn't even have a window seat to shoot cloud photos. Still, I made do.