Quito, Ecuador - Mountains, the Equator and the joys of American Airlines...
At some point since we left England, Paddy has been cursed by a gypsy. We´re not sure when or why but it´s the only way to explain his current run of bad luck!
We flew from San Jose to Quito via Miami Airport and, whilst 2 of our 3 bags finally appeared on the luggage carousel, the third (containing absolutely everything that Paddy owned) was nowhere to be seen. A week on and numerous phone calls to American Airlines later (funny how they never call you back!) and we still have no idea where the bag is. Thankfully though, AA have been incredibly helpful. They´ve generously given Paddy $150 to spend until they conclude their investigations...this will take until October! This is slightly worrying as Paddy is now beginning to smell! Our own insurance company cannot pay out until AA declares the bags lost and the $150 has just about covered a weeks supply of socks and pants so expect some amusing pictures of Paddy over the next couple of months!!! Paddy´s top travel tip to date is don´t fly American Airlines!
The gypsy curse aside, we´ve still had a great time in Quito. Especially Debs who has a whole rucksack of clothes to choose from. Quito is a really beautiful city - it´s almost 3000m above sea level and is surrounded by 7 volcanoes - the Old Town is even a Unesco world heritage site. As well as becoming increasingly familiar with Quito´s shopping centers (in an attempt to find size 10 trainers in a country where the average male is a size 7) we´ve spent the last few days visiting various monuments, churches and plazas.
We also headed over to the Equator and spent a couple of hours here, hopping over the hemispheric divide and balancing eggs on nails (no, we´re not sure why either but Debs is now a certified egg balancer!) The original equatorial line was drawn in the 1700s and in the late 1970s a huge monument and park was built at Mitad del Mundo, about 20k from Quito. However, with the advent of GPS technology 10 years ago, it was discovered that the original line is actually 240m off the mark and there is a second Equatorial line just up the road. Some landowner had a lucky day when he found the equator actually ran through his back garden! There´s now a museum at the site of the real Equatorial line which is better than the original site anyway.
It´s well known that all top athletes train at altitude so we decided to go for a run to Parque Itchimbia - a magnificent park at the top of a hill which has amazing 360 degree views of the city. The view is breathtaking - quite literally - it´s either our lack of fitness or the altitude here is a real killer! We´ve run 20 marathons between us but today we struggled to run 2 miles!
We head over to the Galapagos islands tomorrow for 8 days. We´ve stocked up with sea sickness pills and sun screen and are just hoping that, with his current run of luck, Paddy doesn´t get eaten by Lonesome George!!!