Day 2 in Quito

Today I wandered north through some parks, and then to some kind of marketplace for crafts which felt like 200 booths all selling the same exact stuff. I bought some tiny pouches and a stuffed guinea pig made of alpaca wool (for the cat). I ended up at a water park (where I had some delicious street food) and then the Jardín Botánico which was great but almost completely empty of people. I spent a while in the orchid house then at the bonsai exhibit, and then took the C1 Trolebus back to the Plaza Teatro near our hotel. That may not sound like a lot but for me it was a fairly intense experience since I have to pay a ridiculous amount of attention to the pavement. (An opportunity to feel smug triumph at every single street crossing.)

I ended up going down Guayaquil again around 4pm – past the gauntlet of young women offering ice cream and the stream of every single person walking by holding an ice cream cone. I had just bought a pastry as big as my face at random from a street vendor and it turned out to be full of pineapple which is my favorite so I was spared the pressure to have ice cream too. Everyone holding the ice cream or one of the huge pastries would give a little nod of shared satisfaction with the afternoon. I had wondered yesterday if the “stroll around the plaza eating pastries” custom was just on Sundays but no it seems to be every day. It’s great.

Past the Plaza Grande going down Venezuela, I noticed a huge long ramp winding down to La Ronda which is supposed to be a cool street to visit. So, I took the ramp but it ended in a plaza with no way to get out except from a bunch of stairs. Back up the ramp! And then I was in such luck because coming out of Plaza Grande was a fabulous parade.

Marching bands, dancers in costumes, women holding candles in what was probably a religious way, little kids in fancy dresses, etc. A good parade! I especially liked the grotesque comedy dancing police.

I am scoping out cafes and restaurants and shops where I can get in (not many!!) Found a level entrance grocery (Tía of Central Quito) and a pharmacy (for cold meds and kleenex for Danny). Most shops have a steep step up or down to get in and I cannot leave my powerchair in the street so, no go. My best bet for cafes is anywhere that has outdoor seating on a plaza. The restaurants near Teatro Bolivar look pretty good so I might head there today. I have seen nowhere with people doing laptop things in a public place San Francisco cafe style (sadly, since that’s what I feel like doing right now)

I have to tell the story of using the Trolebus. Google Maps is not super helpful though it does show the stops. Maybe there is a local app for the trolleys (Trolebus, Ecovia, and Metro lines though each of those has sub-routes I don’t understand yet.) These are just regular large buses, the long kind with flexible sections in between cars, but you board from a glassed in platform, paying up front at a little booth. It’s like, 15 or 25 cents or something, very cheap. Some platforms have an exit side and an entrance side, and the exit side has those revolving iron things that won’t let a wheelchair through so you have to exit out the entrance (potentially assisted by a guard). The entrance is a turnstile but you can fold one of the turnstile prongs down to get your wheelchair past it. The bus itself at least on this first ride did not pull up very close to the platform so I had a huge gap to go over. Fortunately I have huge tires and i thought it looked JUST possible so I gunned it and jumped the gap. People around me conferred and one guy offered to help which i accepted and so by the time I was positioned to make my death defying LEAP about 4 people’s hands were on the chair just in case. (Very kind actually!) The bus was crowded but no worse than San Francisco at rush hour (nicer, really). And the same young studenty-looking man and his girlfriend made sure to let me know the right stop to get off at and helped clear the decks for my dramatic backwards exit. Was any of this wise? MAYBE NOT. Tune in maybe tomorrow when I will attempt to ride the bus again to some random destination!

On the way back to my hotel around 5:30 I stopped to get the last bit of sun in San Blas Plaza and maybe catch a pokemon (I am sending Ecuador Pokégifts to everyone!) A little kid maybe 5 or 6 years old was riding his bike around the plaza & he came up to me to ask about my chair. I explained the controls to go faster or slower on one side, the battery life, and the joystick (I said “palanca” because i have no idea what the right word is, and that seems to suffice) And then he patted my lap and said “can i drive” and unceremoniously climbed up into my lap. That was unexpected and slightly weird but also a lot of fun — I like small children. I worried what his attendant grownups would think but no one swooped down on us. He drove us around and around the plaza with us both giggling until I said I had to go. “Es muy divertido!” he said as we shook hands and exchanged names. My theory is that maybe he has a relative who is a wheelchair user and, well, no boundaries because he is 5 years old and very brave and confident.

Meanwhile Danny and his colleagues are meeting up with people in support of Ola Bini who as near as I can tell was bizarrely scapegoated just for being the sort of nerd who likes crypto and uses Linux and Tor. Hello… that would be like, nearly every open source engineer I work with…. People misunderstand hacker culture so badly.

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