Sometimes even the best planning results in a fail. I was SO EXCITED to participate in the Quito Ciclopaseo, which is the 8 am-2 pm timeframe on Sundays when 30 km of downtown roads are closed to traffic so that bicycles can roam. But when we woke Sunday morning the sun was shining bright, and we knew we had to grab our opportunity to take the Teleferico: the gondola that climbs to the top of Cruz Loma. We had been warned that this is not fun when the weather is not good, and we would only have two other days to risk missing it.
Sunday’s weather was perfect, and we were some of the first folks in line for the ride. We enjoyed chatting with two downhill bikers who had bought all day passes and planned to ride up and down like a ski lift all day long. In my broken Spanish I asked the biker on the right if the descents hurt his forearms. His friend listened to his response in Spanish before engaging me in conversation in perfect English. I’m always a fan of the fluency closet! It makes me chuckle.
Once at the top we were glad to have our down jackets. The wind was chilly and the air was thin. Joe and John forged ahead while Lori and I took our time. The trail was very steep and we were feeling the elevation: it is one of the highest aerial lifts in the world, rising from 3,117 m (10,226 ft) to 3,945 m (12,943 ft). Climbing Mt. Humphrey’s in AZ is a typical training for our peer group about to head to elevation, but even the highest peak in our state is only 12,633. So we motored on, stopping often for water and pictures. The views were stunning and we really had one of the best weather days of our trip. We were delighted that many hikers were exploring the trail with their families, including their dogs! We saw the happiest Golden Retriever ever.
However, by the time we were done, we only had about two hours to get to an area to rent a bike to tour the city. We attempted to find a place to rent four bikes. However, we failed! All the guidebooks made it sound like bikes would be available every few miles on the route and we couldn’t find any.
So change of plans. We had also read that many restaurants are closed on Sunday and Monday so in planning our trip we researched lots of places and made reservations at ZFood Pescaderia for 4 pm. We decided to head over early to see if we could eat. It was 1 pm and they offered us a 2 pm seating, so we had an hour to kill. That’s when Zinc Gastro Bar came to our rescue with some of the most delicious Gin & Tonics I’ve ever experienced. We enjoyed a relaxing beverage, then went back to have our late lunch. While the food was amazing, my favorite part of this meal was the huge Ecuadorian family seated next to us. I had so much fun watching their interactions and eavesdropping on their conversations. They had two small adorable children who needed much attention, and the adults took turns entertaining them. Their food kept coming and coming! It was fun imagining more about their lives, their relationships, their jobs, their goals. I felt really grounded and happy there.
After a rest at the hotel we headed to the Old Town and did some shopping and exploring. The Quito Old Town is second in size only to Krakow as the largest colonial intact city center. It has a stunning array of fascinating buildings, churches, and landmarks. We wandered a while before finding a restaurant for a sunset. One fun fact about life at the Equator is that the sun always rises and sets at the same time. I came to enjoy our 6 am and 6 pm sun markers.
Soon, we headed back to the hotel and played cards until we were too tired not to. Another wonderful day in Ecuador, where even a fail day is a win.