Friday, February 20, 2009

Sur Americano: Part I


We are in an airport. 5 hours counting down till we board the plane to Cusco in Peru. Several waves of delerium kicking in. It's about time I wrote a blog about the sheer insanity that within the shores of South America.

It's been two months since we left Australia. When we first arrived here, we expected the worst. To be robbed, mugged, and possibly murdered with a panpipe. Well, this didn't happen, though we have experienced numerous other fuckups.

Over two months we have lost a total of two Visa debit cards, one Woolen gimp mask and one pair of hiking boots. How our Passports didn't join the list is beyond me, as the longer I travel the more I begin to grasp how forgetful an individual I really am. We have cried in 3 banks and 1 Western Union, patted an alligator named Pedro, slept on wooden floorboards and managed to overcome stifling language barriers. Oh yes - South America is a glorious realm of both good and bad, and from Mescalin to Mate we are slowly beginning to understand.

I'm going to break it up country by country, as the wackiness seemed to vary everytime we crossed a border. Numero uno:


Capital: Quito
Population: 13,992,500
Currency: US Dollar

Quito, Guayaquil, Mitad del Mundo, Galapagos Islands, Manta, Montanita

Our first stop was the land that boasted the best bananas in South America - Ecuador.

I remember the day we left Australia well, because I couldn't have been less prepared for over 24 hours of plane travel. Fresh in the wake of the 3 days of drinking, drugs and sleep deprivation that was Falls Festival, I jetted off feeling nothing short of fucked. Yet I was determined to overcome my physical ailments, no matter how severe, and invoke my inner Latino.

Upon arrival, we were met by our first Couchsurfing host Lewis. Within 5 minutes of conversation, we were confronted with 'very dangerous city' and 'Gringo' - a nickname spoken by the locals for White people. ''Yeah, most Gringos here have been mugged at least once here,'' he chuckled as we lugged our packs back to his house.


Our first night in Quito involved muchos jarras of sangria, a salsa club and a local trying to pick up Eleanor by telling her her thermos was sexy. We discovered the phenomenon that was 'Reggaeton'. We were one day down with two months to go - a wild ride was ahead.

Grappling the altitude, on the third day we took a ride on the TeleferiQo to the top of the mountain that overshadows Quito. A beautiful sight ensued. Quito is a bizarre city to look down on, as it looks sort of like one big shelf hanging on the edge of cliffside. It takes 30 minutes to walk the width of the city, but more than 3 hours to cross its length. We then make the trip to the Old Town where we begin our desperate search for a restaurant, as we are hungry Gringos. The only one open is the most expensive one in town. I get a plate of meat which I find out later is goat, some kind of Ecuadorian yam and avocado.

We are still hungry, so we cross the street and we are introduced to the amazing Empanadas - a sort of fried pastry covered in sugar. Epic om nom.

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