12/27/15 – 14,000 Feet

Our last day in Quito. I suffer a headache hangover in a hotel bed that still sways. I’m ready to go back to a more stable home. After breakfast, we take a long taxi ride to the TeleferiQo on the west side of Quito. Here, a ski-lift-style gondola takes tourists up the mountain. The views are indeed amazing. Mountain bikers prepare for the long ride down rutted switchbacks.

We hike a trail further up to about 14,000 feet. I once travelled in a cold, dark, overnight Peruvian bus through an Andean pass at 15,000 feet, but otherwise don’t know when I’ll next be at this altitude. Perhaps because the air is thin, we’re irritable with each other. I have not been alone for 2 weeks. We inspect horses, a little chapel, and more mountain bikers before taking the funicular back down the mountain.

We’re hangry: hungry and angry. I suggest a guidebook-recommended restaurant called Ananke across town that, like everything else in Quito on Sunday afternoon, may be closed. We take a taxi and try anyway; even the taxi driver can’t find the restaurant so he drops us off at the side of a cliff, a pretty cliff. Lee finds a secret staircase down through the pretty neighborhood.

The restaurant is closed. We’re quite hangry. We discover a monastery but neither taxis nor restaurants. I push us onward to a busier part of this village where a genial proprietor entreats us into his little restaurant. The four of us sit for a bizarre but delightful meal of rice, French fries, tomatoes, and chicken nuggets. Throw in 3 large Pilsener beers and a water for Andriene, and the total bill runs a cheap $18.

We taxi back to town for raspberry sorbet scooped from a large copper bowl on a pushcart. We sit for an hour in the hotel room. Just one last hurrah: a sunset ramble through the pedestrian street of La Ronda and dinner. Adriene chooses a fancy, upstairs Ecuadorian fusion restaurant for our last meal. We eat sea bass in strawberry sauce and sea bass coated in quinoa. Ray fights three fried crayfish that look like sea bugs. We’re tired, full, satisfied, and quite ready to go home.

Lee warns us of storm Goliath pushing through Texas. Ray and Adriene fly through Houston. I may suffer in Dallas. While we play Eucher cards in our Simon Bolivar hotel suite, Adriene notices that although her flight is listed as on schedule, the plane is still stuck in Texas.

We wish Lee godspeed to Colombia. On arrival to the Quito airport, we see that Ray’s flight is indeed delayed 3 hours. My flight slips one hour as well. We play the frantic connecting flights game. I finally board a late flight back to the States.