Friday, Aug 19, 2016
Heidi and I have a friend in Quito. His name is Aaron Borja, a local man who had agreed to serve as our guide and driver when we toured the coast here in 2014. We met up with Aaron today and introduced him to Chase and Easton. We also got a tour of his hostel/hotel, Huasi Lodge.
We knew Aaron owned this hostel but had never seen it. It’s located in the Old Town of Quito, and he maintains the quaint charm and warm feel of this historic building throughout the rooms and common areas. It has dorm rooms for backpackers, each bed with its own light and electrical outlet. Each dorm room has individual lockers for traveler’s backpacks as well.
There are also “family rooms” with three beds, and private rooms too. Aaron has designed common areas for entertainment and cooking, plus a dining area for breakfast which he serves to guests. I didn’t realize what a versatile property he ran and fully expect to stay here on our next visit to Quito.
We got to spend a couple of hours walking with Aaron around Old Town. He took us to Independence Plaza in front of the Presidential Palace and next to the Cathedral of Ecuador. We walked various colorful streets in Old Town, and enjoyed a great almuerzo with him.
When we met up with Aaron today, I felt like I had come full circle. When Heidi and I first met him we were exploring the possibility of moving to Ecuador. Aaron covered a lot of miles with us during our trip along the coast, and he gave us a lot of good information.
After we were back home in the States we stayed in touch as I worked out the logistics of actually making our move. Our target date got pushed back twice and sometimes I wondered if we would actually do it. Today sitting in Quito laughing and talking with Aaron, the first man we met in Ecuador, made me happy. We did in fact do it.
Chase’s friend from the Peace Corp, Jenni, made it to Quito today. We met her over a year ago when we visited Guyana to see Chase. She was supposed to arrive yesterday like Chase and Easton did, but ran into an issue. After volunteering at the Olympics, she flew out on a different airline than Chase and Easton, and as such had a different transfer point coming into Ecuador. Jenni’s itinerary made a transfer in Panama while Chase and Easton never left South America, transferring in Columbia.
Since Jenni did not have a return ticket booked out of Ecuador, her airline would not let her board her flight out of Brazil. She was asked for proof of her return ticket at the gate, and since she hadn’t booked one, she wasn’t allowed on the flight. Now Easton has his Ecuadorian visa, but Chase is just coming here after Peace Corp service in Guyana. Chase didn’t have a return ticket booked out of Ecuador either, but because his transfer was in South America, he didn’t run into this issue because there isn’t this policy. Evidently it is North and Central Americas that require proof of a return ticket when traveling to South America. I think we got lucky with Chase’s situation.
Fortunately Jenni made it here and met up with us at our hotel. Aaron invited to take us out this evening and show us around. Because of Jenni’s plane snafu, she was going on being up for 24 hours and decided to skip the evening out and catch up on some sleep.
There was a concert going in the square close to where we were staying. When Aaron arrived at our hotel we all walked over to check it out. It was in Plaza Foch…yep, just like it sounds, which is in the Mariscal area of Quito. It was a lot of fun listening to the music and watching people around us dance.
We were starving so Aaron took us to a place called La Platea. It is located in La Floresta, a hipster area of Quito, on the corner of La Coruna and Francisco Salazar. The concept is great! It is an empty lot that had electricity and water brought onto it, and several of the food trucks around Quito are now located on it. It had cool open air seating areas with chairs made out of wood pallets, and old wood spools (for telephone wire) used as tables. The bathrooms were even cool…I’ll let you decide which one is for the ladies. 😉
The food was out of this world. There was Peruvian, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, American, Lebonese…any kind of food you would want. There was even one truck that was just a bar. After we were there a bit, live music started. It was very chill and informal. The entire vibe of this place was great. After we ate all we could and drank only what we should, we called it a night and Aaron dropped us all off back at our hotel.
I really am having fun in Quito.