Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Couchsurfing II (Quito edition)

After our wonderful couchsurfing experience with Monica and her family in Santiago, Chile, we decided to give it another shot in Quito, Ecuador. As we were just returning from our fun-packed but intense organic farm experience, it was nice to pull into town with a cozy home already waiting for us instead of doing the whole search-for-the-cleanest-cheapest-hostel-one-hour-in-the-rain-with-heavy-backpacks routine.

Our new home was that of two British girls, Nicky and Helen. The hopeful but mildly uncertain feelings as we rang their doorbell vanished as soon as we heard Nicky's welcoming voice yell down from the rooftop, "Oh I'm so glad you came! I'll be right down!" She ushered us in and offered us some tea to unwind from the bumpy bus ride while she finished up a Skype conversation.

Helen came in soon afterwards, a nice mirror of my own life - she had split her time over the years as a math teacher, English teacher, and working with children. Joo and I gave them some of the organic chocolate and coffee we had made at the farm and then cooked up some rice spaghetti with lots of fresh vegetables (they were both vegans), and then the four of us sat around and talked for hours. Helen and Nicky had both lived very full lives... after first meeting in Africa when they were 18, they spent the next 12 years going through university, worked 5 years with street kids in Nairobi, Kenya until the violence got too bad (as Nicky said, "I had been kidnapped at gunpoint and all of our friends had been kidnapped at gunpoint or worse...") and then moved to Ecuador to start their dream of building a self-sustaining organic farm (which they are currently doing on a plot of land two hours north of the city). We also discussed our faith journeys and how they had dealt with immediately losing their secure Christian childhood community the instant they came forward with being gay. They had then spent a lot of time traveling through places like India, hosting hundreds of couchsurfers, etc. over the years to re-shape a new faith. Anyway, they were delightful hosts and by far the highlight of our time in Quito.

Quito itself was lined on every side by volcanoes or mountains and tons of little colorful houses decorating the hillsides. The presence of the catholic church seemed a bit stronger than it had in more Southern regions of South America.

Ecuador in general has been incredibly Americanized, not just by switching the currency to American dollars. However, they have maintained a unique twist on some things...

Ecuador is known for its chocolate and so I was delighted to find a gorgeous little cafe in the corner of the Old Town of Quito where I indulged in a real hot chocolate and some fresh cake.

We were eager to get to Colombia and on a fast track, so we only stayed in Quito for two days and then said goodbye to the girls' dog (or the apartment dog I guess) and hopped on a bus heading Northeast... another very fine couchsurfing experience!


  1. Hope you don't get bored when you get back and settle in. You seem to be having some great experiences.

  2. That dog with Joo looks like a Siberian Husky, the prettiest dog aive! Stay safe in Columbia! -Dennis