Quito, Ecuador, July 10, 2003 — We returned from Cotopaxi to spend our final day in Ecuador back in Quito before heading off to see many other parts of South America. It was another day of errands, including a trip to the LanChile airline offices. We went to confirm our flight to Santiago, only to find out (despite having a confirmation number) that we had no flight. The agent told us the next flight to Santiago with seats available was nearly a week away. After much pleading, yelling, cajoling, and looking desperate, the agent and her manager somehow managed to find a couple of free seats. So, that being said, it wasn’t really a photography kind of day. But I did snap a couple of shots of Quito’s “Gringolandia,” including one that sort of makes me chuckle of a motorcycle driver in bumper-to-bumper traffic waring an orange vest that says “educacion vial” (driver’s education). I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation, but I look at the picture and think that he’s not in the best of positions to teach anyone to drive.
Quito, Ecuador, June 28, 2003 — Day 21 was our first full day on our own, having left behind Rosa’s comfy home in the hills of Quito. Spanish classes were over, and we were truly about to start our round-the-world backpacking adventure. But it started with a little jolt of reality as we awoke to some commotion outside our hotel window. A homeless family (or two) was encamped on the street below us, reminding me that Rosa’s suburban style home in the hills was not the norm.
As an aside, this photo demonstrates once again one of the ways my photography has changed thanks to digital cameras. I shot this frame with my first digital camera just a few weeks after buying it. And clearly I still had the habits I’d acquired from shooting film for many years. I look at this shot now and wish I had shot many more, but that day I shot just one single frame. Now I shoot multiple frames a second quite often. Memory cards were still very expensive back then and we didn’t have a lot of extra storage space on the laptop we were carrying with us, so being conservative with the number of pictures I took was perfectly reasonable. But I surely could have afforded to have taken a few more shots.
Quito, Ecuador, June 27, 2003 –I don’t remember much at all about Day 20 of our trip. School and our stay at Rosa’s was wrapping up, and we took a public bus somewhere. I know that because I snapped a picture of the space on the bus where there was supposed to be a TV, but instead there was a picture of Jesus and two stickers of Bart Simpson. Apparently the bus operators know something I don’t know.
Mitad del Mundo, Ecuador, June 26, 2003 –Day 19 was spent with our new friends Barry and Renee traveling to the center of the earth: Ciudad Mitad del Mundo is an hour bus ride out of Quito and is located on the equator (actually near, it turns out — so says the NY Times and Huff Post). Regardless of whether it’s the real equator, it has an interesting museum about the indigenous people of Ecuador, plus we had fun and got gorgeous views of the volcano Cotopaxi.
Photos of Brett & Sherri by Barry Doodeman (though using my equipment and I imagined and set up the photos, so I’m OK with putting them on my photo blog).
Quito, Ecuador, June 25, 2003 –When you’re traveling for an entire year, not much happens on some days. Day 18 was one of those days. The photographic highlight (and I use that term very loosely) occurred at our Spanish language school in Quito, when our language instructors decided to teach us salsa dancing. When you think of Ecuador, salsa dancing does not immediately leap to mind, and these language instructors didn’t exactly make you think of dancing either. But it was fun, and this snapshot makes me chuckle (though I’m fairly confident that my time would have been better spent learning the past tense).
Quito, Ecuador, June 24, 2003 — While in Quito, we stayed in a fairly posh little neighborhood in the hills above town, and walked down every day to get to our Spanish language classes. This picture was taken from the top of the stairs near the beginning of our walk (and their were many more stairs and roads down after this one). Quito is over 9,000 feet above sea level, so the walk home was considerably more tiring than the walk to school, as I’m sure you can imagine.
Quito, Ecuador, June 18, 2003 — The rain took a break on June 18, so we headed down to the backside of the hill that Rosa’s house was on, into the Barrio of Guapulo, supposedly an artists’ community. It wasn’t the most memorable hike, and we didn’t really find any artists. But we did see lots of flowers and got some exercise on a very steep road. I wasn’t able to get a great perspective on how steep things were, but today’s photo of the day was my attempt to show the cliff that the houses were built upon. I’m guessing they wouldn’t pass any U.S. housing codes.
Quito, Ecuador, June 17, 2003 — Ecuador is right on the equator (thus the name), but Quito proved to be a cold, wet place in June. We spent day 10 inside again, studying our Spanish. On the plus side, I really like this portrait of Sherri in her new Otavalo shawl (which she still has). And although it may be very common now, we were very cutting edge in 2003 backpacking with an Apple computer. And trust us, there were many fewer Apple stores back then — which we discovered when our motherboard died on us (twice).
Quito, Ecuador, June 16, 2003 — We were back in Quito with our homestay mom Rosa on Day 9. It was cold and rainy so I just snapped a few pictures of the house and our housemates. I don’t know why I didn’t use a flash, but most of the shots didn’t come out without one. Here are 2 that sort of did. As you can see, the house was luxurious relatively speaking, but the crucifix was quite scary.
Quito, Ecuador, June 13, 2003 — We took a field trip with our Spanish class around Quito on day 6. These 3 photos together show 3 of the recurring elements seen throughout South America: (1) poor indigenous women in traditional clothes (or a mix of modern and traditional clothes, as here), (2) soldiers/police officers with scary looking guns, and (3) shoe shine boys.