The last 48 hours have been exhausting and exhilarating – and proof that things happen for a reason, but more on that later. Let’s back up a bit. Being the budget-minded travelers we are, we purchased our flight to Quito with points. This necessarily meant that the flights were the worst of the worst. Our first leg departed Phoenix at 11:08 pm and arrived in Atlanta, Georgia 3 hours and 15 minutes later at 5:35 am, where we had a 12 hour layover.
Disoriented from sleep deprivation, we stumbled to a vacant gate and attempted sleep below speakers blaring the latest “news” from CNN, while the airport temperature hovered around 53 degrees. We decided to splurge and pay $35 each to wait out our layover in the Atlanta Club. This offered us free food and drinks, showers and free WiFi, which justified the expense. Several fitful naps and free merlots later, we were finally on our way to Quito.
We landed in Quito five hours later, even more tired than when we landed in Atlanta. A five hour plane ride goes fast when there are movies and free drinks. We landed over unknown lights and high clouds. Suddenly here we were. South America. The beginning a whole new set of constellations to look up at and languages to learn.
We were first off the plane and through immigration and customs quicker than I ever thought possible. Maybe landing at 11pm has its upside after all. Our directions from the hostel we were staying at was to find Aeros Servicios to retrieve our free bus tickets. The bus would deliver us to the old airport where we would find strangers holding a sign with our name. Everything was going so smoothly, almost too smoothly. I slept most of the bus ride – and this bus was not what you might be thinking, it was a comfort bus, just like the busses from college choir tour, and for the rest of you that means the bus was very clean and comfortable. Upon arrival at the old airport, now a bus station, we wrestled with our backpacks and looked hopefully for our ride. Searching for someone holding a sign with our name – Mortensen. They have to be here. It was dark. We had no phone. There was no WiFi. The only people there were semi-desperate taxi drivers and one very serious looking police officer with a giant asp. After about 10 minutes, we called it. Time to get a taxi. Just as we had read in the “Dangers & Annoyances” section of our Lonely Planet, we first negotiated the fare before getting in the car. A mere $6 ride and we could be in bed, sleeping.
It was probably my exhaustion, but I wasn’t all that excited on that cab ride. And nothing looked that great in the dark. Our driver was having a difficult time finding our hostel, it was around 1 a.m. and only homeless dogs and dodgy looking men wandered the streets where our taxi driver insisted on dropping us off. Cory and I knew there was no way we were getting out of the car. “It’s in front of the Consulate de Espana!” Nothing, Cory showed the address again and we told the taxi to go around the block one more time and and there it was, on Calle La Pinta, right between Calle La Nina and Calle Santa Maria. No joke.
Through the security door, into the locked building, we confirmed our names and were shown to our room. A small double bed, a closet, fresh towels and the shared bathroom just outside our room, we were home. Room 001, on the courtyard with a stone turtle. Home for the next 4 days.