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TeleferiQo and Mount Pichincha

Written on: Friday September 7th, 2007

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Author: Julie

Hola!

This morning we had our first experience of re-packing our bag, our room was reserved and we had to move to another. Things that fit on the night before departure didn't fit this morning, ahh the life of the backpacker: trying to squeeze every last inch out of your pack and hoping your zipper won't pop. Things finally fell into place, we left our bags with the main office for the day and headed out to experience Quito's newest attraction: the TeleferiQo! A gondola that takes you up 2.5 KMs to 13,000ft altitude sickness inducing feet! We couldn't wait, except first we had to figure out which bus would take us there. We walked to the TroleBus (a tram) line and were told to get on but just as we were about to step on we double checked the map and realised that it was going north-south and we wanted to go west. We quickly left the station, checked our watches and realised that time was ticking away, so we swallowed our pride and flagged a taxi. We bartered the ride to a low-low price of "3$ mi amigo" to the entrance gate.

As we entered the site, we were met with the entrance arch to VolQano Park! The latest in amusement parks, built into the side of a mountain. It had bumper-cars, a roller coaster, a ferris wheel, everything a carnie-loving fan would want! We decided that VolQano Park was not for us, nor anyone else for that matter since none of the rides were running, and instead opted for our ticket up the gondola at 4$ each. Not quite a steal at Quito standards but we hoped worth the price. We were not disappointed!

As we rode up, the landscape changed from trees and scrub to a long deep yellow alpine grass that seemed to cling to the mountain side. We watched as the panorama of the city of Quito opened up to us: a long wide valley surrounded by the Andean mountains whose flanks are a variety of colorful agricultural fields. We were soon at the same level as the far off clouds and could see a plane departing far below us from the airport. It was strange to be so far up. 

We arrived at the terminal and disembarked to a pretty glass building giving us a full view of the city below. It was much colder at this altitude and we could see our breath. We had made tentative plans to meet up with Stephanie and Marie-France for 10 AM but with the Trole debacle we had arrived late and thought we had missed them. As we sat down at the top, who walked in but them! What perfect timing on all our parts. Unfortunately, they had bad news: while on the Trole, someone had stolen their camera from their belt bag. Stephanie felt it happen, but the thief ran away before anyone could catch him. A nice older gentleman saw it happen and explained that when the Trole is packed, the thieves will grab whatever they can and sometimes they will even slashed the bottom of your bag and try to grab whatever is in it without you even knowing it. We knew there was a lot of robberies in Quito but this made us more aware to be careful whenever in public, you never know if it's your turn to be mugged.

Determine to not let it ruin their day, the joined us on a hike from the terminal along a path that led towards the peak of Mt. Pichincha. It was a beautiful hike along the edge and we could see the most awespiring vistas everywhere we looked: from the city below, to the alpine valleys to our left and the sheer-dropping canyons to the right. Coming down one hill we were met with the site of horses eating the alpine grass, they could be rented for a ride up the trail towards the peak. We hike for about 1 1/2 hours before Marie-France had to turn back due to a headache most likely induced by the reduced oxygen in the air. Stephanie, being a good travel partner, decided to turn back with her and keep her company. Kevin and I continued on with the goal of reaching the peak. It felt good to be alive again! The feeling of my lungs pulling at the thin air, my legs walking in rhythm to my breathing, muscles burning on the steep incline, the feel of the wind on my face, the sound of the grass and the mountains surrounding us, what more could we have asked for... well, maybe better weather. About mid-point (we think) into our hike, the rain clouds closed in on us and we decided to turn around since we didn't know the area better and didn't want to risk getting lost in the clouds that were quickly enveloping us. We quickly walked down the trail, out of the rain and into the terminal building to meet up with a fellow hiker we had met along the trail: Rick. He had been travelling through Central America for the past 7 weeks and had just arrived the day before. He had gone much further than us along the trail before also turning back and said that he couldn't see the end, so who knows how much more time we had before reaching the peak, it was a good thing we turned around and didn't attempt it after all.

Down the TeleferiQo we went and who did we meet at the bottom of the hill: Stephanie and Marie-France! They had waited for us to come back. All 5 of us we starved by this time and jumped into a taxi for a late afternoon lunch near our hotel in the Mariscal area. We all ordered the comida special and for 4.40$ we each had an appetizer, a main plate, and a dessert. I had a ceasar salad, spaghtti bolognesa, and a chocolate crepe. What a deal! 

After the food, we were all tired from the fresh air and the exercise so the girls headed back to their hotel and Rick, Kevin and I walked to ours. We made plans with Rick to meet after for a quick beer at an Irish bar broadcasting the Rugby World Cup. The moment Kevin and I got into our room, we crashed and slept for a good hour. Waking up and feeling groggy, we got dressed (same clothes as that day - yeah!) and met Rick. We walked over to the bar Finn McCool's to find out that the game had been broadcasted earlier in the day and we had missed it. D'oh! We had a couple of beers, played a few drinking games, met a new traveller named Diana from Columbia and headed home at 10 PM for a well-deserved sleep.