Quito is an exciting city and over the past three days I’ve gotten a chance to talk to a lot of locals about what is coming up and what’s exciting here in Ecuador’s largest city. I also got to get a feel for the place when I took a long walk to a mall to buy a watch battery and made my way uphill back to the Swisshotel. One thing that’s endemic here and in many other large cities is the traffic.
It’s absolutely horrible, and going anywhere is a Mexic0-City-like slog. Lots of start and stop, and plenty of time for the local vendors to come up to you and either try to sell you oranges, gum or cell phone chargers, or wash your windshield.
The thing that always makes me sad when I see these vendors on street corners is their poor little children, who must hang out with mom or dad all day long while they try to make a living. Some are in papooses, one little guy about two years old was set up in a stroller with a bowl of soup…but at 11:30 at night, you can still see the rugrats playing tag in and out of a store front, or just hanging out, bored.
I think with the money that Ecuador brings in from oil, they have the ability to have much, much fewer street vendors, and I hope that if they are aiming to raise their population’s incomes up, they can start by cre
ating jobs for the many people who exist on the streets.
I saw the construction site of the new subway that’s being built underneath this vast city. This certainly will be a great addition. Many new roads have been built, including a smooth luxurious roadway out to the MariscalSucre airport, which just opened last year. It’s located about an hour on a good traffic day from Quito, and like the shiny new airport, most of the buildings along this new road are all new.
The Tren Ecuador is another really great new attraction that’s making tourism people excited. It travels down to Guayaquil taking travelers through many different ecosystems and the famous Devil’s Nose spur is full of amazing vistas. The trains were not running during the Travel Mart but they did bring a steam-powered train to the station, built in 1908, and unloaded a group of dancers for the occasion. The president is also planning to spend another billion dollars on more non-tourist rail projects and to increase the hydroelectric generating for the country.