Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Scouting Trip: Quito and Cumbaya

As I’d mentioned before, Quito was never on our list as it’s a big city with pollution and crime. But we later learned about a nice suburb there called Cumbaya. And we had to fly to Quito to check out some towns north of there anyway. So, we held hands, closed our eyes and began singing.

When you go into a place knowing it’s not what you want, it’s remarkably freeing. I mentioned before that we didn’t swoon over Ecuador largely because we were here, not to vacation, but to investigate. Well, Quito was just vacation. So our minds ignored the horrible air pollution, crime fears (statistically justified here), and (do I need to say it?) traffic. Along with Cuenca, Quito is the other UNESCO World Heritage Site, for the same remarkable and well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture and design. And it’s also in a stunning natural setting, in a valley at 9,300 feet beneath the 19,000-foot volcano, Cotapaxi. Great place for a childless twenty-something to spend a little travel time. Missed our window on that one.

So we took a bus to check out Cumbaya, but you could hear the record scratch on the refrains of peace, love, and togetherness when we stepped off the bus. Did we get off too soon? But it seemed irrelevant if we had. As far as the eye could see was Quito suburb, having no distinctive characteristics apart from Quito itself. Traffic, pollution, noise, but with the added bonus of American-style strip malls. The only thing missing to make it Aurora, Colorado was a Payless Shoe Store and several dozen Starbucks. This is where all the upper-crust are choosing to settle. This is Ecuadorian Dream. Good God, American culture has become their golden calf!

So that was a short-lived idea, and we then…got on another long-ride bus to Otavalo and other points north.

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