The Villa Maria team have only been in Quito a week but they have certainly packed a lot in….here’s what they’ve been getting up toin their own words!
After dribbling into Hostel Tutamanda in Quito due to different flights, accusations of bribery at Miami Airport and food poisoning acquired before even trying Ecuadorian mussels, we shared our first meal and took a quick tour of the city. The team were quick to settle down to a movie in aid of jetlags ranging from New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the UK.
Friday was a day of hecticness. Our reason for visiting Quito kicked in. We have 4 hours of Spanish every morning, divided into 2 hours of vocab and grammar followed by 2 hours of practical work, so visiting the market and asking what the bizarre pointed purple fruit is, or taking a trip to the park and showing off your ability to tell the difference between un perro y un gato.
Our evening events began with what only can be compared to a booze cruise in Magaluf; the Chiva Bus. Alongside our Spanish tutors we began the debaucherous tour around Old Town and up to the Virgin of Quito fuelled not only by diesel but also unlimited amounts canalazo, a traditional warm cocktail. The night continued with a slight pause to consume traditional chicken, rice and potatoes with yet more of the canalazo, which at this point was traded in swiftly for the cervezas. In the club shapes were thrown, jager was bombed and this is where the hangover was born.
Urrrrgh brutal 7:00 wake up followed by a 2 hour drive welcomed us to Otavalo a traditional market of a colossal scale. Gringo pants of all colours were purchased alongside pashminas – apparently when travelling in South America its acceptable for men to drape these over their muscles. Following our shopping trip we stopped off at a waterfall that was truly spectacular. This was followed by a swim in what can only be described as a paddle in bog water. Facial expressions in photos portray the sliminess well. Although a rather cleansing experience, it was nothing compared to Alex’s bizarre ritualistic soul cleanse. Involving manic chanting, awardable spitting, egg rubbing and tree bashing- all over Alex’s body. Happy Birthday Alex! A much-needed rest was found at the lovely La Luna hostel. Louis enjoyed the hammocks far too much, mumbling Don Mclean to himself and the 2 hench dogs for a decent 2 hours. Our much needed rest was gained and copious amounts of chilli con carne was consumed.
Sunday began with a stuck bus, thankfully this was swiftly sorted after man-boy single handedly lifted the bus with one finger and gracefully placed it on the road. Despite being thankful to be on the road again, the destination welcomed with it our first experience with altitude. We did a 5 hour walk around the picture perfect Cuicocha lake, gaining 500 meters in altitude along the way. The team quickly felt the effects and the pace was slowed and breathing increased. The altitude however did not stop the Europeans casually puffing away at 3,500. Allez les bleus. Exhausted by the trek, 14 battered bodies crashed through the doors of the hostel and passed out.
Monday welcomed a new week. The intensity of Spanish lessons kicked in, but mass improvements are being made. Afternoon activities involved the inaugral Gringos VS Ecuadorians football match, with a 12-1 win to the Gringos (Louis would like me to state that 7 goals were scored by him. Woop for Louis, lets get him a little plastic fake medal). Everyone’s competitive streak continued with games into the evening – alliances were made, bets were placed and individuals cheated, but a great time was had by all. Ahh must add kudos to the cooking team who now hold the World Eecord for time taken to cook rice- 4 hours. Once again little plastic fake medals need to be awarded.
As always Spanish lessons were continued on Tuesday morning followed by a trip to the beautiful colonial Old Town- where we visited the basilica and a modern art gallery with painting of S&M pigs. Cooking team did an amazing job and whipped up a cracking oriental dish. Pub quiz followed at the traditional Finn McCool’s Irish pub, despite our valiant efforts and a score of 44 a $50 bar tab was not won, but to be honest this was rather positive. The night was continued in No Bar with us welcoming Sam into life as a 19 year old.
Wednesday- HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM! Getting up for Spanish was a struggle, but we are all troopers, you have to be in this wolf pack. Afternoon activity involved napping and recovery before a hardcore and much enjoyed hour of salsa lessons- video proof is on offer but we recommend that you view this with caution. We refueled at possibly the most tacky Mexican restaurant on the Southern hemisphere with mounds of burrito, guacamooooooole and free birthday cocktails for Sam. Her surprise came in the shape of a Smurfette shaped piñata that she completely obliterated with a stick. Video evidence is below! As always festivities were continued and taken to Bungalow 6’s Ladies Night, free drinks for the ladiezzzz until 10pm- why this ruling doesn’t exist in London I have no idea, we will be writing a letter to Boris Johnson on our return. But yes, massive shapes were thrown, and certain members of the wolf pack went in search of prey.
So to say the least, week one has been very eventfully, but more than anything it has been lovely. Jimmy and Pete are absolute babes and the team works as well together as peanut butter and jelllllyyy. This weekend we are off to the Cloud Forest and staying with indigenous families so I am sure there will be much to report on. Over and out.