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Across the Andes: Arrival in Quito

Remember ‘Across the Andes’? The chronicle of two people – Deia and Gregg – traversing the Andes on foot, it was one of the first stories published on Road Junky. To celebrate 5 years since the journey started (and also pretty much 5 years of Road Junky), we’re going to re-edit and bring you the very best of the adventure…

 

Wow, what an incredible last 48 hours. Deia and I arrived in Quito, Ecuador last night around 8:00pm. It was a long day of traveling with two layovers, one of which we didn’t know we were going to have, and more than 13 hours of travel. Flying at thirty thousand feet normally isn’t too much to write home about, but when the mountains below are over 20,000 ft. the views are amazing. Cotopaxi and Chimbarazo, the two highest and most celebrated mountains were in our sights at sunset. The feeling of seeing the path that we will begin to traverse in a few short days was indescribable. In the last year and half that we have been planning, or at least thinking about this adventure, it never fully seemed real until that minute.

On the way to our second plane from Caracas, VZ (where we watched some guy run off with someone’s wallet, get chased down and give it back) we met Johannis. He is a German traveler who surely sticks out in a crowd of Ecuadorians, not too much more than us I guess. Jo, who has lived in Flordia for the past year, invited us to join himself, his friend Alex who somehow managed a four hour travel day from Miami, and a friend of a friend who was going to meet him at the airport despite never meeting him in person before. After forcing down a couple of cervezas at the airport during the half an hour wait, Pablo arrived, and although we were completely drained, we were off to begin our first night in a new continent. Just a side note, Pablo is an Ecuadorian who studies in Albany at the same college that Deia´s parents went to. Crazy.

Sitting at a table on a main street with the five of us, shortly others began to arrive. First Juan, then Luis and Mauricio, who turns out was the friend who knew the friend that knew Jo. One of the greatest things about Ecuador so far, other than the people, has been the $1.22-oz beers of which our table had quite a few. Actually, everything has been cheap, really cheap. Dinner at an Indian restaurant for two: $7.50; Hotel in downtown Quito: $8 per person. The internet café I am at right now: $.60 per hour. The people here have been more than amazing. Every single one of the Ecuadorians we met, have offered to show us around the city, or to take a “daytrip”. After the first four hostels were full or too much ($12), six people we have never met took the time to walk around and find us another place. Totally not necessary, but an amazing gesture of friendship. It is the people here that have made us feel at home in a place we have never been. Our plan is to stay in Quito until Monday when we can visit the embassy, then head to Papallacta where we will begin the journey.

Gregg Treinish