Today was to be a transit day and it turns out much longer than any of us would have liked. Prior to the transfer to the airport, we needed to be up at 4:00am for an ‘American Breakfast’ prepared for us in the lobby. With a time zone change of two hours back, our heads hit the pillow in Quito at 9-10:00pm, meaning 18 hours for some who didn’t get any sleep on the two flights. Although we arrived at Santiago Airport by 6:00am, a ‘quick movement’ through check-in, immigration and security added up to 1 and ¼ hours. The first flight was 3:20 into Lima and after the layover of 2 hours, the flight on into Quito was a further 2:15hrs. However immigration alone at Quito was 1:15 and then some folk couldn’t find their baggage on the carousel – it had been taken off and left in a “this baggage is dizzy” section. It was a additional hour to the hotel before the end of our transfer.
Ecuador is quite a mountainous country, so much so that on our approach into Quito, I wondered where a long, flat piece of land was going to be to land on. With the sharp valleys all around causing updrafts of strong winds, our aircraft got buffeted around somewhat before finally resting on solid ground. The housing you could see around looked very much like Palestine, unpainted concrete looking boxes with windows and doors in them. The lack of vegetation ensures the landscape looks rather barren.
We have been told that tourism is not a priority for South American governments and so immigration and customs formalities are yet to improve the processing time, or should I say reduce processing time, both into and out of border controls. I guess we will just have to put up and be patient for another – 4 ports.
We are staying at the Swissotel, looking out over ‘the city of concrete boxes’. Security is like most other countries but “keep your back packs on the front of you”. The tap water is ok for washing teeth but it is best to drink from the supplied bottled water and to do so regularly. Regular fluid intake helps with the problem one can come up against in high altitude regions. We are at 2,850 meters in Quito. (More on Quito after our walking tour on Saturday.) There must be about 8 restaurants and cafes in this hotel each with a different cuisine. A meal of quesadillas was delicious last night and the bed was even more welcome after such a long day.
SC couldn’t sleep and got up at 1:00am, put her makeup on ready for the early departure and then went back to bed.
AH was seen coming out of the ladies loo. He’s Lyns ‘right hand tour director’ so who knows how many others followed him in.