Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.
Who: Jenel Wyatt (the author) of Silver Spring, Md., and her mother, Glenda Steele, of Detroit.
Where, when, why: In October, we went to Quito, Ecuador, for one week as a surprise birthday trip for my mother.
Highlights and high points: Quito is a gorgeous city with beautiful architecture, surrounded by the Andes Mountains. The weather is springlike year-round, so there are many wonderful outdoor spaces. We walked in the Parque La Carolina every day to see the skateboarders and children doing the BMX racing track there. Seeing all ages jogging, running and walking their dogs made us appreciate the active lifestyle of Quito.
Cultural connection or disconnect: My broken Spanish went a long way in Quito, where not many people spoke English. My mother and I were careful to eat at small local restaurants to get authentic Ecuadoran food. “Almuerzo, por favor [lunch, please],” was how I ordered lunch at small eateries where there was no menu. The cook would bring out chicken soup, pasta, chicken, corn, salad with beets, fresh tomato juice and a dessert — all for $3 per person. Delicious!
Biggest laugh or cry: We hired a driver to take us to a small town called Otavalo, known for Ecuadoran handicrafts. On the way there, he told us how he loves to drink whiskey, a lot! That explained his speedy driving around the Andes, passing slow trucks on the two-lane highway. We enjoyed his tour because he was so knowledgeable, but we were thankful to make it back to the hotel alive. On the evening of our departure, we were looking forward to a peaceful night drive to the airport, until we saw our driver. The same one as before — and he delivered yet another white-knuckle ride to the airport, with us laughing the entire way at our wonderful luck!
How unexpected: Old Quito has history dating back many centuries. The churches there, including the Basilica and the Iglesia de la Compañia, were some of the most ornate I’ve ever seen. The cloud forest was also amazing. We visited the Yanacocha Reserve, and there is a hummingbird sanctuary at the highest end of the Inca Trail. To be in the clouds with hummingbirds buzzing all around was an experience I will never forget. The air was pure, and it was a gorgeous scene.
Fondest memento or memory: Our destination was a surprise for my mother until our layover in Atlanta, when she watched a video on my phone that my daughter had made, saying, “Have fun in Ecuador!” Spending quality time with my mother is priceless. She has helped me and my growing family in ways that I can never repay. This trip was a way to show my appreciation. The memories and experience from the trip are my greatest gifts.
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