12/25/15 – Christmas Day

We wake at sunrise to our last day on an ocean vessel. I never got seasick! Before breakfast, we raft out to Seymour Island for a walk along lava fields to check out the main attraction: frigate birds. Many of the male birds inflate their red chest pouches to attract the lovely ladies. By now, the boobies and lava lizards seem so pedestrian. Dane Jan argues with the Argentines as the Argentine husband shockingly pet a fur seal. What a jerk.

Lee and I pack up our little cabin. Anything left behind will be impossible to retrieve. We retrace our steps: the pangas ferry us to the dock; the bus takes us to the airport; we check in so much wiser. Three hours to kill before our flight back to Quito. Ray and I scarf down airport empanadas. Not bad.

We almost miss that flight as the immigration guard incorrectly told us to come back to his kiosk at noon for a 12:30 flight. Like on our outward journey, we land first in Guayaquil to pick up a few more passengers.

At Quito baggage claim, we say goodbye to Jan and the two sullen Swiss. We take a quick cab into town for $30 and check into the Real Audencia Hotel. I booked a different hotel than the one I had originally envisioned (Audencia is not the same as Antinea). Still, the Real is really nice although we’re staying in the Old Town and not in the Mariscal (New Town).

As the sun sets, we unpack. From our second-floor Simon Bolivar suite, we have a great view of Plaza San Domingo where Christmas performers dance. We haul ourselves out to dinner before all the restaurants close for the night. We line up to order at chaotic Café Modelo, a local and much loved diner, established in 1950. In Spanish, Ray capably orders lasagnas for the two of us. Adriene gnaws on a chicken leg. We finally have to pay for meals!

Quito at night feels narrow, hilly, colonial, and quite nice. We make our way through a few more plazas to Bandito Brewing, a fairly new brewpub housed in what looks like a monastery. We play cards over middling beers, eyeing the brewery’s magnificent pizzas.

The beeping walk signal outside our hotel window keeps me up all night. I feel landsick in this swaying hotel bed.