Sundarrajk's Weblog

Archive for the ‘Quito’ Category

Yesterday another incident took place which highlighted the insecurity of living in Quito. One other colleague was robbed of his laptop at gun point. We dropped the colleague in front of another colleague’s house and took the taxi ahead. Before the person could walk into the building a person stepped out of a car that was parked nearby, he showed the gun, relieved my colleague of the laptop, and he got back into the car and drove off.
As I had tweeted a few days ago:
Look at the crime in Quito
One feels Quit O.
Really there is no clue on what can be done to safeguard oneself from these kinds of crimes.
How did they know that he will come? He actually was staying elsewhere till a couple of days back?
How did they prepare for this?
Only they know and that does not make us any wiser.
Visited the Metropolitan Park in Quito, Ecuador on Saturday. Had a potluck party in the park. We were expected to leave our places by 10:30, but overcast skies meant that people dilly dallied and looked for ways and means to squiggle away from the visit. Also the whole week at sharp 3:00 PM it had been raining and the whole days had been cloudy and gloomy.
But finally at 11:30 all decided to take the plunge, especially after all the food that had prepared, it had to be consumed.
One family was already in the park by 10:30. This was the only family to have a vehicle of its own. So we took taxis to the gate of the park from where the lunches were packed into the car of this family along with the ones who did not want to walk it up to the place where we were supposed to gather. This place was about half a kilometer away.
The park is more of woods than a full fledged park. There are clearings in the woods which are like mini parks within the woods.
The woods are full of trees of different kinds, but predominated by Eucalyptus trees. There is also a variety of flowering plants that one can see. They do not seem be grown or manicured, but they are just there.
One thing that seems missing in the park are birds. There is a dearth of birds in the park. There are very few birds in the park. In fact in whole of Quito there are hardly any birds for some reason. The birds that are there are also not easy to sight as they are too few.
It is a good place to go to over the weekend or holiday and let the children play in the various amusements for the children and relax a bit.
The park itself is at an elevation above the city and from one side of the park one can see the Cumbaya Valley as that side is at an elevation compared to the  valley. And one can see the mountains beyond the Valley. It is an enchanting view.
One can also see Llamas grazing in some parts of the wood. There is a sort of lake in the park. But again devoid of any visible life in it. There may be fishes, but it was not visible as the lake itself was fenced off.
Overall the day was spent roaming around the place where we had our lunch and the children played to the heart’s content.
On the way back we decided to hike it down to the city. Only after taking the plunge did everybody realize it was not as easy as it looked like. The path is not a smooth one and one had to walk quite a bit and by the time we reached the city and our destination, everybody was dog tired.
But it was a day well spent and worth the trip.

Some photographs from the trip.

Llama grazing

Son Surya and Wife Aruna overlooking the Cumbaya valley

One of the several dogs that were romping around the park drinking water from the pipe.

A strange flower that looks like leaves. Or are they leaves in a flower like pattern?

It had rained in the morning and so all the flowers had drops of water on it.

A Yoga loving flowers doing Shirsasan

A Vista in the park.

The Valley of Cumbaya

An attempt at extreme close up.

This weekend we went to Cotopaxi, the volcano near Quito, Ecuador. The peak of Cotopaxi is situated at a height of 5800 meters. The volcano is surrounded by the Cotopaxi National Park. The entry to the park is 10USD if one goes without a local Ecudorian ID and if one as a local ID the cost is only 2 USD. So go with your ID if you have one.
One can go in a vehicle upto a height of 4500 meters and from there to the peak, 5800 meters, one has to trek. There is snow throughout the year on the top of the mountain and one needs to have some skill in mountaineering before one can attempt to scale the peak.

The road inside the National Park is not great so be prepared for a hugely bumpy ride to the top. Also have a vehicle in good condition as some climbs are steep and pick one which has a high axle as the road is not smooth. Do not be surprised to see buses going along the way. They are a common site here.

We reached the parking lot of Cotapaxi at around 11:30 AM. Usually one has to climb quite a distance to reach the snow line, but we had snow at the parking lot. There is nothing in the parking lot except for the flat surface where vehicles can park. Nothing to each, nothing to relieve yourself.

It was quite cold and a wind was blowing every now and then which made things worse. Most of us were ill-prepared for this weather and were caught off guards. Some in the group also started feeling the effects of the height and as a result we had to abandon the attempt to scale higher heights.

So come prepared for the climb and do not be caught unawares.

After spending some time in the parking lot and after playing with the snow, many were seeing snow for the first time and so where thrilled at seeing so much snow, we started our downwards journey.

In the national park there is a nice lake (laguna) where one can see a variety of birds. The lake is at a height of 3800 meters. Here we spent some time watching the birds. We also sighted a rabbit here. It offers a very good vista of the national park.

Near the lake there is an area where one gets some refreshment and restrooms to refresh oneself.

Panorama of the Lake Limpiopungo

Duck at the Laguna Limpiopungo

Duck at the Laguna Limpiopungo

Vista in National Park Cotopaxi

A Rabbit at the Laguna

Lake Limpiopungo at 3800 meters above sea level

One of the attractions in Quito, Ecuador is the Teleferico or the Aerial Tram or the Cable Car. This goes from the bottom of the hill to the top of the hill where the volcano Pichincha is located. It does not go all the way to the crater of the volcano, but to a hill nearby.
Quito is at a height of 2800 meters above sealevel and so it enjoys a very cool climate despite it being close to the Equator.
The cable car takes one upto a height of about 4100 meters above sea level. People with breathing problems are advised not to go up as oxygen can get quite low. This a little less than half the height of Mount Everest.
There is no snow at the point where the teleferico takes one, but during cold weather there is snow on the mount Pichincha. We could not see any.
The view from the top is of whole of Quito and one can also see planes landing in the airport. It is a different feeling to see the planes below one´s feet, instead of above one´s head.

The Greenery on the mountain

A view from the Cable Car

A view from the top of the mountains

A view of the City of Quito from the top
A church at the top of the mountain

Looks like a storm gathering over Quito. It was unfounded.

On the way down.
Every Sunday the local people come to sell vegetables and fruits in a market close to Av Amazonas and Av Naciones Unidas.
There is also a Korean store nearby where some rice noodles etc are available. Also one gets rice and wheat flour from shops in this area.
Viva Quito is celebrated on the 6th of December. This day is considered to be the day on which the city of Quito was founded.

It is a public holiday and there is lots of partying through the week. The people hire out vehicles called ¨Chiva¨, which are trucks fitted with seats and open on all sides. They have loud music playing and they have lot of drinking and partying. They drink sugarcane juice laced with some alcoholic drink. They drive around the city to shouts of ¨Viva Quito¨.

Every office and school and class has a ¨Beauty Queen¨ contest and they play cards for the whole week.

On the ¨Viva Quito¨ day they have a parade going down the streets of Quito. There are many floats representing different aspects of Quito and different groups in Quito.

We went to watch the Parade on this day.

Also went to the nearby Carolina Park and another mall nearby.

Day 1
Landed in Quito, Ecuador on the 1st of December 2010 without knowing to speak Spanish. Was made to wait at the immigration counter for close to an hour.
After the immigration clearance, there was no customs check.
Went to the hotel booked for by the company. Had some lunch and went hunting for an apartment. Selected one and moved in the same day.
The apartment did not have any phone or other facilities.
The long halt (17 hours) at Amsterdam seems to have helped. Not having a Jet Lag.

Day 2
Signed the contract for the apartment.
Went to office to report.
Went to the nearby supermarket and got a mobile and some things to survive on.
Friends helped a lot.

Day 3
Spent time at office. Went to supermarket to get some more items.