Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Flying In and Day One

I've been fly so long I fell asleep on the --- plane.

The lyric by Weezy (aka Lil Wayne) is accurate.  Despite my best efforts to stay awake, I fell asleep on both the flight to Atlanta and to Quito, which was probably for the better to avoid motion sickness.  De verdad, the flight was not bad at all.  Only about 5 hours in the air from ATL to UIO.  And the weezy part is also kind of accurate given that Quito is about 9,300 feet above sea level.  The good news is that aside from being a bit tired with a mild headache in the afternoon, so far so good with the altitude.

Aside from flying in yesterday and taking it easy today just running a few errands, it's been chill so far.  A couple first impressions:

The city is beautiful - I can't wait to get to the historic center and walk around buildings and streets from the 1500s (or older).  During the day, you can see the green mountains and hills with the roads winding through them.  The sky is really blue with big, fluffy, white clouds.  As the summer goes on, I am told that there will be fewer clouds and more blue sky.

The sun started setting around 7:45/8:00pm and the view of the city at night is equally beautiful.  At night, the roads are lit up with this yellow light from the houses and cars, making the long, narrow city look as though it is made up of golden veins snaking their way through the terrain.  Seeing that from above was pretty cool.

Going around the stores today, it is still odd to me to be in a foreign country and using US dollars.  Ecuador has its own coins but they are used interchangeably with US coins (including US dollar coins which I am gathering are used far more often here than I've ever seen them used in the US).  At least this takes away the issue of worrying about exchange rates and having to check xe.com all the time to find the best rate.

Driving in Ecuador (at least Quito) is a whirlwind.  Cars follow some rules more than others, but basically lanes and speed limits don't really matter and stop signs and yielding are optional.  It's a game of aggressive and defensive driving that everyone plays so I'm glad that I'll just be a passenger (with a seatbelt).  Most of the cars that I have seen so far are little Suzuki, Honda, or Chevy SUVs (with some compact cars).  And most of the cars here are manual (stickshift) drive, which is impressive considering the "hills" (aka mountains) that Quito's roads are on.   Lots of steep hills that would more than test most American stickshift drivers on their best days.

I thought that the phone I used while in Spain, Morocco, and Switzerland would work just as well in Ecuador with a new sim card.  No such luck, amigo.  Apparently, although pretty much the entire world uses a cell phone frequency different from the US and Canada, Ecuador and a few other Latin American countries follow the US frequencies.  Meaning that I'll most likely have to buy an Ecua-phone for my sim card since I cannot figure out how to change the frequency on the euro-phone.  So much for trying to be prepared on the communication end.  

For future reference (yours & mine): http://www.worldtimezone.com/gsm.html
2013 GSM World Map - GSM Country List

Today there was a World Cup qualifying match between Ecuador and Argentina (they tied, 1 to 1).  The whole city was pretty much preoccupied with the match.  At night, there was even a short burst of fireworks (I am assuming because of the game).  


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