Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Quito Vortex

Quito is a surprisingly beautiful city. It fills a valley surrounded by steep, tall, green hills. The elevation (9,000 ft) makes the weather very comfortable despite its location basically on the equator. The architecture, decor in restaurants, shops, and hotels, and prolific artwork are impressive. Similarly, the bureaucracy, red tape, and corruption are outstanding.
We arrived in Quito thinking it would take 2-3 days to find and buy a used truck. We would then leave the city and begin a 3.5 month road trip through Equador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
We also had to quickly pick up our mail. We had some gear and supplies shipped to Quito from California. It all seemed so simple... little did we know about the Quito Vortex.
Day 1: After checking into the very nice Hotel Los Alpes, we were given the address where our mail was being kept. When we got there, they said that we will have to pay $450 for customs. (the mail was some used books, a camera and lenz, and some sees suckers). We didn't pay and said we would come back tomorrow.
Day 2: We went looking for cars to buy, found one but the price was not negotiable, so we kept looking. The mail was settled by giving the customs agent $200 (which he pocketed), and just accepting the loss.
Day 3: ...
... to be finished later ...

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