After two hours by motorised canoe and another two hours by bus, we were back in Lago Agrio. We only just made the 2pm bus to Quito. No time to buy food and hardly enough time to go to the bathroom. Six hours and only two quick toilet stops later, we were in Quito. Starving and exhausted and without accommodation. While we were on the bus, the owners of the apartment we had a confirmed booking for, decided it was inconvenient to come into the city and simply cancelled our booking. Nice! We managed to find a 10 out of 10 rated apartment in the historical part of the city on bookings.com, a little over our budget, but oh well.
The taxi driver nearly killed us on route from the bus terminal to this “great place”. And then… we get dropped off in a dark alley in front of a dodgy building. We ring the bell and the small iron door buzzes open. We climb through the small opening to find an ugly passage leading to a dirty staircase. On the second floor we meet an unfriendly man who speaks no English at the reception desk. It takes a long time to establish that we have a booking in a part of the building he has no keys for. He phones the owner, who promises to be there in fifteen minutes. More than an hour later, a slick (or is it slimy?) man walks in. Both Eulain and Esto have fallen asleep on a dirty couch. The owner leads us out of the building, onto the street and unlock the doors of a shopping area. He leads us to the back of the building and into our “apartment”. Oh my! We nearly passed out from the smell. Mouldy basement mixed with the overwhelming scent of toilet block (the ones we used to have in the bathrooms in primary school). We say nothing, but we are all in shock. The man promises to open the doors at 7am and lock us into the building. It is very late and we are very tired. Jarik and I “settle” on bunk beds in the kitchen and the kids in the only other room. No hot water in the disgusting shower. Only Kali and I brave it. The rest promise to face it first thing in the morning. We climb into the dirty beds. Our skins crawl and we itch all over. I pray for sleep to rescue me, but it takes a long time, despite my exhaustion.
We could not get out of that place quickly enough. The breakfast, which was included, consisted of one dry bread roll and a small plastic cup of weak, black coffee. We should have known when we saw the sign in reception the night before that reads: “breakfast – one bread only per person”.
We leave our bags there and go in search of a place with wi-fi. Our 10 out of 10 place’s unlimited wi-fi proved to be nonexistent. The first few places we try send us away telling us that there is no wi-fi in this part of the city. We’re not giving up! We stumble upon a lovely restaurant with wi-fi. The breakfast is fantastic and we manage to find an apartment not too far from where we are. After ten minutes the owner emails to say he is out of town, so the apartment is not available. Just before this, one of the friendly ladies at the restaurant tells us that they have accommodation above the restaurant. We all feel this is meant to be, so the email confirms it for us.
We go back to our horror “apartment” to get our backpacks. Hugely relieved to file it away as a bad experience we survived. All of a sudden we feel a lot better about Quito. Bring on the next chapter!
– Mariza –