Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Qualms in Quito.
We had been told to stay in the new town of Quito because it was more happening. Unfortunately, the streets of the New Town had been dead – maybe because everyone was in the old city celebrating, or perhaps because of the big football match that folks were watching in the cafes. Unfortunately, the price points of the cafes were a little over our budget. Instead we spent the morning hemming and hawing over the cost of the Galapagos tour. Finally we decided to bite the bullet and book it.
Committing to the tour required us to figure out a new itinerary. The next tour wasn’t for a week but we didn’t really feel like hanging around Quito so we decided to fly from Guayaquil and spend the next 7 days getting there. That decided it was time to sign up. At the tour office, we were given a detailed itinerary, luggage tags and buttons to identify ourselves at the airport (how embarrassing). Now the hard part – paying. It had been a while since we’d had to pay for anything that was $100 let alone $2000. And seeing the total on paper made my hand shake a little as I handed over our credit card. We kept reminding ourselves that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity (please don’t say otherwise, as the price still stings). Booking our air tickets would have to wait until the airline office was open which helped lessen the sting too.
We our wallets a whole lot lighter, we headed to another Trole station so we could put some distance between ourselves and the scene of the crime. We were headed to Casa de Cultura where there were two museums to check out. It was only a few stops away and we could have walked but at just a quarter per ride, we saved our feet for the museums. Good thing too because we walked the wrong way around the building almost coming full circle before hitting the door to the first museum (note to others: walk left not right) Unfortunately it was closed but it worked out because the second museum was the better of the two and it was open. No worries, we kept walking to the second which was the better of the two.
The oddly named Museo de Banco Central (oddly because it had nothing to do with banking or money) was a kind of museum of the people Ecuador. The main floor was black except for the displays which were lit up. It looked great but it took us a while to figure out which way we were supposed to go. Once we figured out the order of the displays it made a lot more sense and was really well done (signage in English too which meant I got to take time off from translating for Adrian). The displays took us way back to the earliest tribes all the way up to modern Ecuador and was a mixture of dioramas, pottery, religious art and artifacts, modern art and even children’s toys. I was glad we’d saved our feet – although the museum wasn’t particularly big it was dense. And when we were done we were full of museum yumminess and didn’t even bother checking out the second.
On our way back to the hostel we stopped in at the tour company to book those plane tickets only to be told that the internet system wasn’t working. Hmm… we were leaving town tomorrow morning and the company had no office in Guayaquil. I couldn’t even book them myself since the flight was officially sold out and the seats we had were the tour company’s reserved seats. In the end we let the tour company charge the amount to our credit cards in their name – sort of like a cash advance. They said they’d book them as soon as the system was up and email us the e-tickets the next day. Not an ideal situation but we didn’t have much choice.
In order to make up some of that money we’d just coughed up, we went back to the cheap Indian place for curry. Since the previous order had been a little mild I made the mistake of asking for the vindaloo version. All I can say is ow ow ow ow! It was freaking hot and if it hadn’t have been for the raita and naan on the side it would have been uneatable. Lesson learned. Our cheap night continued back at the hostel where we watched someone’s copy of the new Harry Potter on the big screen in the café (shh don’t tell anyone but I think it may have been an illegal copy). We weren’t regretting our move here – the hostel was definitely one of our favourites. But we were still doubting spending all that money on the Galapagos. Tomorrow was a new destination and I hope we can keep up our good luck with accommodation and keep those costs down.