Ali and Katia, the tourists.

Last weekend, I checked another thing off the “to-do while living abroad” list: I had my first visitor! I actually didn’t know Katia before she arrived outside my gate in the middle of the night, but she is a friend of a friend who was flying into Quito and needed a place to stay. Later in February, she is meeting a friend in Peru to WWOOF (work on an organic farm), but until then she is free to roam about Ecuador and slowly make her way down to the farm.

Having visitors in town (I’m speaking from previous experience in the US, not Ecuador) is always fun because you can choose to do touristy things that you otherwise wouldn’t. For example, last Saturday we visited the market town of Otavalo, in the north. This market is supposedly one of the oldest markets in Latin America, and many travelers talk about it, but it didn’t really intrigue me. It was nice to see some spices and powder dyes being sold, and to see a different set of locals, but I would not need to return. Actually, back in Quito I read one expert travel blogger’s post about how that was his favorite place to visit in South America; perhaps I need to revisit with a fresh pair of eyes. The day trip was redeemed though because we hopped on a bus to nearby Lago San Pablo, which is beautifully surrounded by mountains and countryside. As we were walking up the sandy path to catch our return bus, we got caught in a rainstorm and were soaked within minutes, what fun. 

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(As you can see, the clouds were starting to look quite angry and I’m not sure why we didn’t make the connection that a downpour was coming.)

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(Squinting from the sun just moments earlier!)

On Sunday, wanting to maximize our tourist agenda, we took a bus to Mitad del Mundo, or, Middle of the World. For those of you who haven’t made the connection yet, Ecuador = Equator, and yes, the zero latitude line hits in Mitad del Mundo, about 45 minutes north of Quito. There is a bit of story behind this discovery, which was made my French explorers. They used a very illegitimate looking contraption to somehow measure this in the 1800s (I saw a replica in the museum there and it looked so basic, yet way too complicated for any one of us to know how to use) and now there is a huge landmark there. However, since we started using modern GPS, people discovered that that isn’t actually the zero latitude line, but close enough for me! Within the monument grounds was also an art exhibit, planetarium, French museum about the discovery, and an insectarium with giant tarantulas, my favorite!

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(Katia in Full Wheel pose on the Equator)

Unfortunately it rained a lot during the night while Katia was here, so apart from a live jazz/blues show on Thursday night, we stayed in and cooked and watched movies: Frances Ha and Amelie. By the end of the weekend it felt like we were old friends and we hope to reunite in the future and travel to Iceland together. A note for family and friends: anyone is welcome to visit me in Quito! Flights are quite cheap from the US too.

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