Update on the Censo. It is true that the President sent out a notice that foreigners do not need the censo to leave the country right now. I am not sure if this will change but I do know that we left Ecuador at the end of June 2012 without censos and had no problem.
We Flew into Quito from Cuenca and were going to check in at the TourBlanche hotel because we heard good things about this place. But we had a lot of luggage so instead we decided to save our money and stick it out at the airport.
If you do want to explore Quito a bit and need to store your luggage somewhere, the airport has a place where you can pay to store your bags. It costs $3 per hour per bag but if it is during late hours then it costs $4 per hour. If you need to pick your bags up around let’s say 2am then there won’t be anyone at the desk so you’ll have to get the key from the person at the coffee stand (but it’s not that reliable).
What we did was snag the corner bench by the Dunkin’ Doughnuts stand and piled up our bags behind the bench where we stayed all night. At first I was a bit skeptical about staying overnight in the Quito airport. Quito can be quite dangerous but it wasn’t bad, most people just said keep an eye on your stuff. And they were right, a couple times when I was left alone some shady looking guys would approach me and ask if they could help me with my bags, when I obviously didn’t need help as I was lounging on the bench. But for the most part there was always a good crowd of people around so I wasn’t too worried until the wee hours of the night.
At the airport there are multiple coffee stands, a restaurant, a couple other food spots, an internet cabina, tourist agents and a place you can get minutes for your phone. All these places stay open until around 12pm. But you won’t starve after midnight. The main restaurant stays open 24 hours; they don’t have a lot of vegetarian options but I had the locra y queso soup and they said they could make me a cheese tostada if I wanted one, there are also some hearty salads to choose from. Free wifi is available in this restaurant.
Although all the shops close at midnight, the international side of the airport stays open 24 hours. Of course we saw our share of drunks and tweakers or just some people without homes sleeping on the benches. And the floor machine man woke everyone up a couple of times so he could do his job. But other than that the benches were quite comfortable to sleep on and no one really bothered us. So we were there until our flight took off at 6am.
For international flights you only need to be there 2 hours in advance. We lined up 3 hours early but the United agents didn’t show up until one hour before our flight. Also, if you are leaving the country then don’t forget to grab or ask for the immigration forms because you will need to fill them out before you go through immigration upstairs.
If all goes well, Quito should have a new and bigger airport in the near future.
I wish I knew more about what is going on with the bees.
Back in December I was in Quito and standing on a friend’s balcony, bees were dropping dead right in front of me. Like in a cartoon, swirling around as if someone had hit it on the head. It was the strangest, saddest thing; the balcony was covered in dead bees. And I’ve been noticing it more and more wherever I go. Over the past few weeks we’ve been finding half dead bees everywhere. I even found one in my hair clinging on for dear life.
Maybe it is the natural end of their life cycle or maybe there is some spreading epidemic; no one seems to know. But now when I find a bee on my balcony with a lil life left in him I give him a little honey. I can’t help it, I love the bees. Even if he dies at least it will be a happy sugary death.
Today I went to the Tame office (Florencia Astudillo 2-22) it is right by the Millennium Plaza, across the street from Banco Bolivariano. I was in and out in minutes.
Usually we just go to the airport in Cuenca and shop around for tickets to wherever we are going since all the airlines have an office in the airport. But I didn’t want to take the bus all the way there and back. So I did my research online and found out that Tame had the best prices for the time I wanted (I’m heading to Quito in June). Try to book your flights super early as they are usually cheaper that way. Since I was purchasing my tickets only less than a month in advance the prices were already up to $50-60. But if you wait even longer they get up to $100 even more depending on the month. We looked for tickets to Quito back in April a week before we wanted to leave and prices for 2 were around $1200 (we ended up taking a different trip). So don’t procrastinate and book you tickets early if you’re dead set against busing it.
In the end it would have been cheaper to bus it to Quito but that’s a 10-12 hour ride and I really wasn’t looking forward to lugging my suitcases all over. Totally do-able but I splurged for a lil luxury this time.
The next day was spent in Quito, it’s a very cool city but a bit dangerous if you don’t know the language. We didn’t get to do too much exploring but we plan to go back to Quito at the end of our stay in Ecuador. One of the places we did visit was San Francisco where the nuns had displayed some really cool nativities and such as seen below.
Flew into Quito Airport at 1 AM, there is always a chance of altitude sickness since Quito is at 9200 ft. Luckily it wasn’t bad but I think it is because we spent the night 20 min away in Puembo which is at a little lower elevation. The next morning we made a special trip to Termas Papayacta, which is a cool little spa resort in the mountains where the pools are heated by geothermal energy from the volcano; it was just what I needed after the 12+ hour trip.