A lot of people “know” about Ecuador. This means they’ve read about it, or saw it in Geography class. I was in the same boat before I actually flew there. About all I remembered was that it was mountainous, the Equator ran through it, and they had a lot of Llamas.
I got the trip many years ago by default. I had just moved to Miami, and I wasn’t at all organized. I had no bid sheet to bid from for the month of June 1993, and this was before home computers were used for bidding. We had to go to the airport to put in our bids because you had to use one of the Company computers. It was all “stone knives and bear skins” in those days, believe me.
Now, I can look at the bid sheet online and I have to bid online. And I can do it from my home computer. But back then? Forget it. So I never got my first bid in flying out of Miami. As a result, I was awarded a bid by default. And it wasn’t a bad trip: On a Boeing 727 we flew to Tegucigalpa, Honduras and back, and then switched to a 757 and flew to Quito. We layed over the entire next day and on day three we flew one flight home. Three days on, three days off.
Here is a map of Ecuador. We fly in to the Capital City: Quito where the altitude of the airport is about 9000 feet above sea level.
And yes, there are llamas. Lots of llamas! And the people are all really beautiful, especially the kids. Rather short in stature as a rule, Ecuadorians are also rather Barrel chested. I write this off as due to the altitude: With a larger lung capacity, they can breathe more efficiently at high altitudes. I loved it from my first day there and had visions of retiring there one day. With a climate in Quito swinging wildly from 68 to 72 degrees Farenheit year-round, it’s a comfortable climate. The altitude is a bit much, but you get used to it. Now back to the llamas. This photo came from website called “Llama Drama.” It’s actually a hilarious website!
I’ve seen a couple of llamas around during my layovers in Quito, but this particular trip has me flying there in the afternoon, and arriving after it’s dark. So I don’t get to see much other than the Hotel and the airport.
I was bumming around the airplane before we boarded because it was a newly reconfigured Boeing 757 and although I was qualified to fly it, it was like someone had come in and rearranged the furniture. It took some time to figure out where to stow my luaggage:
I spent some time messing around in the newly redone Lav:
While they were catering the airplane, I got some shots of the ground crew loading the baggage.
I got a great shot here of a Ramper who was kind enough to give me a minor thrill:
I had a great crew and met some interesting people on the flight including a group of students from Yale who were going to see some birds in the Andes Mountains with Professor Richard Prum, the Department Chair of Ornithology at this esteemed institution. And yes, I got to talk to him briefly, got his business card and hopefully I’ll be doing an interview with him. Now wouldn’t THAT be a cool addition to “PN?” I asked him if he knew Irene Pepperberg at Harvard. His eyebrows shot up and he said, “We’ve known each other for twenty years!” So I briefly explained our connection, (Not about the part where she was coming out of the Ladies’ can…) and we had a nice chat and he readily agreed to an interview. So that was fun. You don’t often see Yale Professors lounging around in coach with a bunch of students. The flight was fun, I was in rare form, and I think everyone had a good time. The airport had been rebuilt and it was a nice surprise. It’s a very nice airport! But as I said, it was dark, so the photo opportunities were limited:
Load ’em up!
And during the 15 minute drive to the hotel, we engaged in a little banter and made our way to the Crew check-in room…
I hung back and shot some photos. This is a newly renovated cocktail lounge. Well, new to me, it’s been a while since I’ve been to Quito:
Nice Floral arrangement:
Which is sad really, because I got to my room about 8:30 at night, had to get up about five in the morning and had no time to enjoy it. But despite the altitude I slept well and my eyes popped open at four-thirty ready to rock. I repeat this performance tomorrow and the next day. So if you’re going to Ecuador tomorrow out of Miami, look for me; I’ll be the one in coach on the beverage cart.
Patricia Sund is a Free-Lance Writer residing in Florida with her three African Greys. She has been published in About.com, Bird Talk Magazine, Birds USA, In Your Flock Magazine, Good Bird Magazine as well as numerous websites and newsletters. She is currently doing research for a book titled "Parrot Nation".