|It's a little hard to pinpoint exactly when the Big Trip started. (KK)|
|Was it when Fred and Claire drove me to the Raleigh-Durham airport?|
|Or when Rie and I set out together from Boise?|
|Or maybe at the gate at the Miami airport, waiting for our flight to Quito?|
In any case, we are now well and truly launched on the great adventure!
The driver who met us at the airport in Quito last night came up to my shoulder—I’m not a tall person—and the sign he held up said something like “Katarlene Hernl.” He drove us through dark streets packed with white vans, honking cars and buses full of people. I saw one pickup with high wooden sides and a pole down the middle of the flatbed so people could hang on and ride standing up. Another pickup was piled with boxes and household goods, across which two men sprawled to hold it all on.
As we got into the Old Town, the blocky concrete structures gave way to colonial buildings, most converted into storefronts with rolling metal doors. Some had anarchist graffiti and slogans like “Viva la Punk,” but around the squares, the colonial churches and other buildings were grand and spot-lit and set off with palm trees. We checked into a hotel with thick woolen blankets on the beds and statues of the Virgin Mary in the red tiled courtyard and behind the reception desk. Then we walked a few blocks to a restaurant perched up high in this hilly city, ate humitas, cebiche and trout with lemon sauce, and watched fireworks from the roof.
Then we got up this morning and got on another plane for a short flight with some notable sights:
|Our first Ande. (MK)|
|A volcano spewing ash. (MK)|
|And another one just blowing off steam. (MK)|
|And now we're in Cuenca, where we're settling in before heading out to see what's in the market. (KK)|