At the end of a long day of airplanes and airports, two dozen Boiseans helped each other negotiate the Migration line at Quito International Airport. Many in our group knew each other from previous travel with Extended Studies. Side by side in egg carton seats, by now my roommate and I felt like sisters. In our hotel room at last, we coached each other on the names of our fellow travel companions as we drifted to sleep.
The sounds of the city coming to life woke me: a truck rumbled by on the street below our room, five minutes later another truck growled by, followed by lighter cars. By 8:30 the sounds had crescendoed and were punctuated by squealing brakes and quacking car horns. Voices wafted through the open window. I peeked across the street and noticed beams of sunshine spotlighting office workers—one more mundane day at the office for them. Street venders strutted like pigeons, their droning voices adding to the symphony of the street as they hawked fruits, woven wares, empanadas, lemonade, any commodity imaginable.
Quito architecture is a tumultuous mix of Spanish, Moorish, French, modern, and haphazard architecture. The streets are narrow, crooked, and tree-lined. Poverty rules and houses stack horizontally, growing ever taller as families grow larger. A tarp merchant would do well here; gazing across the plethora of half-built homes, miles of blue plastic fabric haphazardly buffer brick and mud walls from the rainy season. The city is remarkably clean, except in pockets of sheer poverty or the meaner inner city areas where graffiti and garbage mingle with brightly colored doorways and old iron railings and grates. There are a lot of mud and cinder block buildings in the poorer areas. Cedar is precious and used primarily for elaborate cathedrals.
The equator girds the globe sixteen miles south of Quito. Of course, we had to straddle both hemispheres! And NO, I never could figure out if the bathtub drains differently on the south side than it does on the north side!