Quito – Gringo, welcome to a different world

Posted by on September 5, 2012

Right after landing in Quito everybody tries to rip you off somehow because you’re a gringo (slang word used to denote you’re a foreigner). Starting with the taxi driver which asks for 3 times the normal amount for a ride from the airport, continuing with the hostel manager that tells you a price in the evening and in the morning it’s suddenly more, then the guy from the grocery “forgets” to give you the change, then the next taxi driver drops you off 1 km from the expected location just “because it’s too much traffic and you can walk the rest” and then in many places there are different prices for gringos and for locals. It even goes so far that LAN, one of the biggest airlines in South America has different prices on its internet site for tourists. You don’t believe that?  Just go on lan.com and choose Peru as your home country and book your flights in Spanish. You will get prices up to 50% cheaper than the case where you choose English as your language. This trick is documented in the Lonely Planet Guide for South America. But then there’s 1 person out of 10 who is really extremely friendly and does everything to help you, but by the time you meet this one person you already developed a “firewall” and don’t even want to hear what he/she wants to tell you. But believe it or not, we were expecting this. It’s more or less the same “movie” I saw in Romania 10-15 years ago.

But this is not why we are here. We’re here for the beautiful Old Town that Quito has or for the fact that there had to be a reason why along with Krakow it was the first city declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. The Old Town was almost completely renovated a couple of years ago and is one of the most beautiful old towns we’ve ever seen. If you leave your Rolex at home and stick to the basic rules it’s completely safe during the day as there are hundreds of policemen walking around. Only in the Plaza Grande, which is the main square of Quito where the President’s Palace and the City Hall are, there are more than 30 police men. And every big store or bank has at the entrance an armed guard with a Kevlar vest. The Plaza Grande is the place where probably all the 2 million citizens of Quito meet every Sunday as it is completely closed for the cars on this day. This is definitely the best time to go there as you can also watch a lot of groups performing in the Ecuadorian national costume. We also went to El Panecillo which is a hill in the southern part of Quito where a statue of the virgin stands and from here you have a very nice view over the whole city.

Today we went to Mitad del Mundo. Here is a monument which commemorates a French expedition to discover where the middle of the earth is, long before the existence of GPS. The funny thing is that thanks to GPS we now know that the actual equator line is 300m away from the one of the monument :) .

One amazing thing we’ve seen or done

The old town of Quito is definitely one of the nicest ones we’ve seen so far and is the #1 place to visit in Quito.

Next stop

The Galapagos Islands

4 Responses to Quito – Gringo, welcome to a different world

  1. Krzysztof

    oh come on .. the gringos were ripping their countries for the past centuries, so it is a natural reaction :)
    Speak spanish not english and you will see that people will treat you differently.

    You gonna enjoy Latin America!

    • Lucian

      Hi Krzysztof,
      I will definitely enjoy it, one way or the other :) and I am speaking Spanish because otherwise I would still be at the airport in Quito :)
      And every day I wake up and try to forget the past experiences with the taxi drivers, the hostel managers, everybody having a friend that has a friend that does everything :) and so on and give them another chance but till now it seems they do not want this chance :)
      Hasta luego, mi amigo

  2. Iulia

    Lat. 0-0-0 … sa nu vi se faca rau de la viteza :P
    distractie faina in continuare!