5 Unusual Things to Do in Quito, Ecuador
Quito, Ecuador, is the gateway to the Galapagos and other wonderful South American treasures. Many folks will take only a day to pass through Quito, but with only a day, there’s still more to do there than you could possibly accomplish in 10 hours. None the less, here’s my 5 unusual things to do in Quito, even if you only have a day to enjoy Quito.
1. Find Chuckie and Bart, then burn them.
During major holidays, but especially during New Year’s Eve celebrations, South Americans (and particularly Ecuadorans) create giant life-sized effigies of popular characters, politicians, and actors. At the designated time, they create giant bonfires and throw the effigies into the pyre as a way to bring in good luck and cast away bad deeds. In preparation for the big party, you can buy your own effigy, or you can create your own. It’s almost as much fun to simply shop the effigies and find your favorite character.
2. Support your local musician.
All over the streets of Quito are musicians vying for your best dollar. We found folks playing guitars, bombos, and even accordions. We even struck up a dance or two when serenaded, dropping a dollar or two into the caja. Your American dollar goes a long way in Ecuador which also uses the American dollar for their currency.
3. Eat the local treats.
On every block, we would see candy stands like the one in the picture above. Lacking the candy we grew up with, like Reese’s and Snickers, the stands offered up homemade baggies of sweetened, spiced, and seasoned nuts along with brittles. We just pointed and paid pennies. Our adventure handed up great flavors and delights which kept us going through the hot afternoon.
4. Find the Central Market, drink a fruta.
When you ask the locals how to get to the Central Market (El Centro), ignore their looks and quizzical faces as they wonder why you’d want to go there. Go upstairs. Find the lady in the middle of the market with jars of fruit juices and order away. Made with local fruits and distilled water, these $1 fruit bombs delight your thirsty taste buds. We had a coconut and granadilla (passion fruit) combo that was to die for.
5. Take the free walking tour.
Led by a certified guide, this free walking tour was one of the best I’ve taken in the world. It leaves out of a hostel (which offers up a fabulous breakfast for $4 and gives you a chance to meet some great hipsters) and ventures thru the Central market, historic squares, and in great museums. We tipped the guide about $30 for the three of us for the 2-hour walking trip.
What unusual things to do in Quito have passed your way? Tell me. Post a pic. I’d love to hear what you’ve done.