Showing posts from September, 2011

Cost of Living: Quito

Cup of Canelazo: local warm alcoholic beverage $0.50-$1
Manicure and Pedicure $8
Haircut $3
Tram ride anywhere in the city $0.25
Full lunch: Soup, Juice, Rice, Meat, Veggies, Dessert $1.50-$2
14 Mandarins $1
Taxi to the airport $5
Pack of Cigarettes $2

Shopping Around Ecuador

I spent the last weekend with 20 other teachers in some of the villages a couple hours outside of Quito. We paid one of the school bus drivers to take us, and it was nice to have private transportation. There isn't a middle class here, so shopping can be quite unconventional. Most wealthy Ecuadorians actually fly to America to shop. I don't bother clothes shopping here, because it costs so much money to import the clothing, but there are tons of other goods you can buy in Quito and elsewhere! Stop 1: Otavalo Otavalo is the home of a famous marketplace. It’s famous because it is massive, sprawling out from the central plaza of the city into all of the surrounding streets. The central square has a lot of artisan work, but as you branch out into the city there is jewelry, art, and a lot of other options for shoppers with a heavy wallet. It had a nice row of food carts from which my roommate and I sampled as well. I thought it tasted fine at the time. Lingering vomiting and diarrhea…


I don't think the sandwich shop down the street from  my house knows what they're really advertising...

Zapallo Verde

My roommate and I joined a food co-op! So much better than grocery shopping at Mega Maxi, aka WalMart. All we do is go online once a week and place our order, then go into the co-op in person on Wednesdays to pick it up. For 5 dollars, you get a box with random local vegetables for the week.  Box of surprise local veggies, greens, herbs= $5 They also sell breads, jams, homemade hummus, lasagna, tons of Ecuadorian specialties, whole chickens, eggs, produce, local cheeses, cakes, etc. Zapallo Verde is such a happy environment. Sometimes they go on weekends to visit farmers and eat lunch right on the farms where the food is produced, so I can’t wait to get in on that. Sadly, we missed a trip to the tomato farm for Baños, but I’m sure there will be plenty more.  Click "Pagina de Pedidos" to see all the food options: Zapallo Verde


I spent the last weekend in Baños with eleven of the other teachers. I don’t normally like to travel in large groups, but it’s hard not to because all of my coworkers are so awesome! Seriously, all great, adventurous, kind, passionate, funny people. What’s not to love?

So twelve of us met at the Quitumbe bus terminal and caught a bus together to Baños Friday night, arriving there around ten (3 and a half hour bus ride). We checked into the hostel, downed a bottle of rum, and went straight out dancing. One of my friends lived there this summer, so she took us to some great places. Baños is a lot safer than Quito, so I felt like I was able to let go of my inhibitions and just have fun, without fearing that someone would steal my phone or wallet. It was nice to be able to walk around the streets late at night and not feel paranoid.
The next day, after a huge breakfast to get over the hangover hurdle, we rented bikes for 5 bucks a piece. There is a 30 km bike ride down hill from the cloud f…


Each Sunday, Quito closes down the main road and opens it up to bikers, creating an epic 30 km bike path through the city called Ciclopaseo. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people take to the streets on bikes. This week, a bunch of the teachers at my school decided to go together, starting in the North and working our way South. We rented bikes for about 13 bucks a person and we were off!  The group standing around Old Town-best part of the ride I had trouble with some of the hills and ended up walking my bike up quite a few of them, but overall, it was a blast and I survived relatively unscathed. We ate lunch in the south end of town at a huge mall, and then split into two groups to head back to the north. Half of us (the wimps) loaded our bikes in a truck and rode back up north in style, the other half (the hulks) rode their bikes back up to the north end of town.  Taking a break in South Quito The best part of the day? I got to see some vigilante justice, all Kick-Ass style! At the very …

Fiestas de Guápulo

Guápulo is a small village built into a cliff on the edge of Quito. Not only is it naturally stunning, but it is also host to adorable cobblestone colonial streets and some of Quito’s hippest cafes. It’s the neighborhood I originally wanted to live in, but my school is not very supportive of teachers living there and therefore transportation to and from work would be a hassle. The reason they recommend against Guápulo?  Frequent landslides and only one road to and from the neighborhood means people can be trapped there. Also, apparently last summer a plane flew into the cliff side straight into an apartment building, so there’s that.
 View from the top of the cliff of Guápulo None of that makes a difference to me. Such a beautiful area! We went early for the village festival which was the most epic block party I have ever attended! Early on in the night there was a parade and tons of families running around. There were some crazy costumes, hairy chaps, and lots of whipping going on (som…

Artisans Market

There is a pretty big artisans market a couple bus stops down from my house that I visited with friends in my first week here.

 My friends with their new matching coin purses Laura and I want to go back to get more stuff to decorate the apartment. You can get lots of wooden carvings, wall tapestries, scarves, purses, leather goods, knit hats and socks, a lot of alpaca blankets and table cloths, flutes, apartment décor (spoons to hang on the wall, fake fruit, etc); it’s almost too much to take in at first!

Mounds of textiles Despite everything being so cheap, it’s hard not to splurge and buy everything in sight.

 I was so close to buying this Elmo hat for no reason at all

Mitad del Mundo

Our school buddy Malena took us Mitad del Mundo when we had some extra time one day. It translates to “middle of the world” and it is just a big monument built on the equator. We didn’t have time to go to the museum but we got to take some cheesy photos on the equator line! 

 My roommate and I on the equator
It’s an easy bus ride from Quito but we were lucky enough to have a local to drive us after house shopping. Taxis are supposed to be between 12 and 15 bucks.

Me jumping over the equator! Woo!