Lost with a Boyfriend: Arriving in Quito

City Travel, Couples Travel, Dispatches from the Road, Ecuador, Food & Wine — By on February 29, 2008 at 3:35 pm

After we waited at the carousel in the Quito Airport for nearly a half hour and not spotting out bags, Jeff and I were convinced the airline had lost our luggage. Eventually we spotted them, our two sad little suitcases sitting all alone (just waiting to be snatched) at another carousel several feet away. But they hadn’t been taken-maybe our luck was changing after all.

Jeff’s buddy Andrew met us at the airport with their mutual friend Jenna, and he immediately whisked us off in a taxi to his brand new place-a restaurant transformed into an English school for well-to-do Quiteños. Not only was the place massive, complete with its own enclosed courtyard mini-jungle, in-ground fountain and guardhouse (apparently there’s quite a bit of theft in the big city), we learned that the total rent on the place was less than $600 US.

“Hey man, you guys interested in teaching some classes this week?” asked Andrew, 24, who was running the school with his 26-year old Ecuadorian girlfriend Lau. “We’re really desperate to hire some new teachers.”

As Jeff quietly contemplated not returning to his regularly scheduled job teaching English in the Bronx (his kids are significantly less enthused to learn the subject than Andrew’s, who actually want to pay to be there), I got to know Lau. She was a bottlerocket of a girl, positively crackling with energy and enthusiasm for her boyfriend, her business and for American idioms.

“I say to Andrew all of the time, ‘teach me some new words, I want to know the slang!’ Even I offer to pay him, but he doesn’t do it! So, sometimes I forget to give him the paychecks for working,” she said, cracking herself up. I promised to teach her a few choice phrases before Jeff and I took off.

Although I was exhausted and desperately wanted to crash at our hotel, the group convinced me to push through and join them for drinks and salsa dancing in The Mariscal.

When we arrived, I could see why the locals refer to the neighborhood as “Gringolandia.” It was crammed packed with upscale bars, restaurants, dance clubs, coffeehouses, hostels and guesthouses, and teaming with students, travelers and hip young locals.

We grabbed a quick bite and settled into an outdoor bar at Plaza Foch, a place hemmed in on all four sides by an international crowd looking for the fastest route to good time. Sucking down a few capiroscas (vodka with muddled lime and sugar), I managed to swallow my exhaustion and forget about the nightmare travel day we’d just gotten through.

Successfully subdued, I hardly blinked when Jeff and I finally showed up at the Marriott Quito only to be told that I’d botched the reservation completely and we didn’t actually have a room. I just stood there, staring dumbly, until the guy behind the desk got uncomfortable and eventually started working his magic. Somehow he managed to come up with two working room keys and the porter lead us to our room.

At last, nearly 24 hours after we’d woken up, 17 travel snafus and thousands of miles, we fell into a blissful cloud of clean white sheets.

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    1 Comment

  • Heather Cowper says:

    Wow – you made it. We enjoyed the Madic bean cafe in Mariscal Sucre when we were there in October.

    Do hope you get a chance to look in on Luiz Hernandez at Neotropic travel, just off Juan Mera – he organised our trip and is now a member of congress and a great guy to know.