Starting on a high… (and a little low)

Hola from Quito! I have arrived and the sabbatical has officially started!

Yesterday was a loooooong day. Up at 6am for a final (emotional!) bye to Mum & Dad and then off to the airport. LHR – MIA is a 9 hour flight, which ended up being 10 hours thanks to a slight delay. I’m not the biggest fan of long flights  but made it through!

Arrived in Miami with 1 hr 10 before my next flight because of said delay. I ran as fast as US bureaucracy would allow me  through visa, immigration, passport, transfers and finally got to the desk for my next flight which was leaving in 20 minutes. They were really kind and a guy escorted me back through security and everything to help me make my flight!

MIA – UIA which was another 3.45 flight, with yet another delay of about an hour!

Me looking rather hot, tired and sweaty BUT on board flight #2!
Me looking rather hot, tired and sweaty BUT on board flight #2!

Arrive in Quito no problems… get through security no problems… await my luggage – problems! My bag was (and still is!) in Miami. So after reporting it and them explaining the plan, i head out of the airport with only my daybag and into a taxi. (NOTE: bag should arrive Sunday morning to the flat)

My introduction to my sabbatical begins with staying with friends of friends in Quito. I rock up at the flat, and it is STUNNING. (A definite high!) Amazing almost 270 degree glass windows giving you a stunning panorama of the city. Stephen ( a Brit) and girlfriend Michelle (an Ecuadorian) have been so welcoming to me!

So where am I exactly, I hear you all ask…? Imagine me standing on the apex of Ben Nevis. Now double it. And that’s where i am! Quito sits 2800m high and is (i believe) the second highest capital city in the world. (The first is La Paz which i shall be visiting in a few weeks time)

High – The Altitude can certainly be felt!

High – My accommodation is gorgeous – and i mustn’t get used to this for the whole trip!

Low – Me being in a different country to my luggage!

Today, after buying some essentials like toothbrush, deodorant, and some key clothes, we did the tourist thing. The old part of the city is really pretty and has kept a lot of its authenticity. There is one key road which houses 7 of the main cathedral and churches. Visited a few and they are beautiful. They are all used daily which is great, and are honestly breathtaking inside. Whether it’s the amount of gold, the intricacies of the design, or the story behind them i enjoyed visiting each and everyone. You can get married in them –  but the gold one has a 1.5 year waiting list as it’s so popular!

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All morning the sun was beating down. As we’re so high you can really feel the sun. So although officially it was probably only about 21 degrees, it feels a lot hotter and you’re more likely to burn, so sunscreen is really important. However come lunchtime a massive cloud descended, and the sky opened up and started raining hard..and thundering… and lightening. When it rains, it rains! But it’s not a problem – it’s just the perfect time to grab a snack!

Stephen & Michelle took me to La Ronda – a really nice street in the old city where there are loads of restaurants to choose from. We picked our restaurant (or the weather chose for us!) and got settled in to await the end of the downpour. Whilst there, we sampled some Ecuadorean delights!

Ecuadorean delight in all their glory!
Ecuadorean delights in all their glory!

At the top we have Humitas – one is a steamed sweet corn dish with raisins and cinnamon wrapped and cooked in a corn leaf.

The other is a steamed savoury corn dish with cheese inside. Both different but tasty! One thing i have already picked up – Corn is a big thing out here so it’s lucky i like it!

And at the bottom we have a ‘Empanada de viento’ which is essentially pastry with cheese inside and sugar on top. Literally translated as ‘Wind empanadas’ they’re full of air which makes them look so big!

Everything was tasty!

We have now headed back to the flat to chill for a bit and then tonight we’re going to check out an apparently fabulous restaurant! If this is how my sabbatical is starting… long may it continue 🙂

Happy Weekends all xxx

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