I’m leaving Quito tomorrow, and heading for the coast. I’ve been here for over a month now, and have grown to like the city. When I first arrived, I couldn’t understand a word of Spanish (the customs officer in the airport asked me, “¿Vive en Inglaterra?” and I had no idea what she said), but now after 3 weeks of lessons, I can get by, and just about have a conversation with people if they speak slowly enough.

Ecuadorian llama In the past month I’ve been to Otovalo, a famous Indian market; sat in hot volcanic springs in Papallacta; worked on a fungus farm; climbed Cotopaxi – the highest active volcano in the world (in a bus, and we didn’t go very far up); saw a ballet at the national theatre in Quito, followed by a horse & carriage tour of the old city; had my bag knifed on a bus (nothing was stolen, but one t-shirt needed emergency surgery); went in a boat around a lake in the crater of the Cotocacti volcano; cycled 20km through the Andes from Baños to a waterfall near Puyo; got tear gas in my eyes and lungs; and stood with both feet in two hemispheres at el mitad del mundo. Now though, it’s time for some tropical weather. Time for the malaria pills, insect repellent, and plenty of sunscreen.