Happy day: After an hour-long wait, I got my passport back from the immigration office (not sure why it was necessary to hang on to it…but that’s just how it goes for everyone) and then I hopped on the Quito Tour Bus. Yes, it’s as cheesy as it sounds. But in the end, it helped me discover my favorite place in the city.
The Quito Tour Bus is one of those hop-on-hop-off double-decker tourist buses that hits all the major sites. Along the way you get to listen to upbeat music and pre-recorded commentary. I would never have considered doing it, if I hadn’t done it once before in Berlin with my parents – it turned out to be a good way to get oriented and rest our feet for a bit. And while it was always easy to orient myself in Berlin, Quito is another story.
So, at last I have some touristy photos for you – with my favorite place at the end! (Sorry for the small-sized photos, but they make for easier uploading!)
So, where, in such a city, you might wonder, is Cindy the happiest?
I gave a sigh of relief as soon as I walked into the Botanical Gardens (Jardín Botánico de Quito). While churches and museums are interesting to a point, nothing draws me in like old-fashioned nature (I guess that’s why I’m a scientist). This garden, albeit small, was spectacular. They’ve tried to capture several ecological zones of the Andes. I was especially interested in the páramo – this is an alpine ecosystem that holds most of the water supply for Andean communities – and it’s pretty sensitive to changes in rainfall patterns. As you might guess, you’ll be hearing more about this from me later on.
It was hard to leave the gardens and return to the diesel fumes, motorbikes and buses. But it made me excited for things to come.