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Riots in Quito 1985

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Wednesday 23rd October 1985

Arrive in Quito to find a riot in full swing. Groups of youths are taunting the sinister looking riot police with piercing whistles, there is the distinct bite of CS gas in the air. I initially thought the slight choking feeling was the altitude until I spotted empty CS gas canisters in the gutter.

Checked into Hotel Gran Casino (aka the grand gringo) for 150 Sucres a night. Got very drunk sharing three bottles of the local fire water with Marcel, Shirley and Jessica. marcel is a Brazilian architect who was working for a while in Managua. Nicaragua is dirt cheap it seems, hard work spending 2$ a day. People find the country interesting and the Sandinista authorities friendly, firm but friendly. They may well rip all the film out of your camera, but they will be pleasant about it. Marcel was also in Tikal when it was captured for a day by the Guatemalan Guerrillas. They were very friendly too. The army didn't counter attack because of the 20 foreign tourists staying there. It was a PR job for the guerrillas to show some westerners that they weren't animals and to give the government an impression of how easy it would be to stop the tourist cash flow. At the end of the day they just disappeared into the jungle again.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:42 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

hangover at altitude

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Thursday 24th october 1985

Recovering from last night at 9350 feet. Some headache.

Old town Quito is full of narrow streets, the houses are painted white, thick walled and with terracotta roofs, colonial style. The Plaza Indendencia is very attractive. met John and alan in the evening, a pair of likely lads form Liverpool. They had been working in the luxury hotel trade in London'd west end. It was illuminating to hear all their stories about the cons and fiddles the American and Middle Eastern visitors suffered at their hands. It just takes a bit of nerve apparently. Perhaps they were on the run.

Posted by 1985 trip 11:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)


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Friday 25th October 1985


Explored town with the likely lads. Alan has a good collection of bank notes. He gets them plasticised.

It is chilly at night, and the hills or the caffeine gives me palpitations. Quito sits in a valley between the two main Andean ranges, so the scenery is good.

Posted by 1985 trip 11:06 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

market day in Quito

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Saturday 26th October 1985

Visit the Museum of Prehistory through an unmarked side door of a bank. Not many visitors. Usual ceramics, plethora of tribes with different pottery styles. Good gold artefacts. Hence the bank perhaps.

Market day and lots of locals in town in blankets and hats sitting surrounded by their goods. Very little begging, occasional feint touch on ones arm, and a toothless smile. They seem a very gentle people, the conquistadors must have been a shock. Many of the streets are packed with these vendors. One sits in front of a whole roasting pig.

Decide to go the Cuanaca tonight. John and Alan have already left for Banos. I want to hurry down to southern Peru. Take some photos as it is a lovely sunny day. The air is crisp and dry, except when the old busses pass, they seem to run on two stroke. Have a coffee and all the waitresses try to find the time for a chat.

After a time wasting major confusion on the town buses eventually locate the coach station and get the all-nighter to Cuenca.

Posted by 1985 trip 11:10 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

overnight to Cuenca

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Sunday 27th October 1985

Aroused from fitfull sleep by the chilly light of dawn throwing its horizontal light across the dry brown mountains scattered with tiny dry brown adobe huts sheltering dry brown people with their dry brown hats and blankets etc.

Cuenca is picturesque, higgledy piggledy multi storey houses with ancient balconies at odd angles lining a rocky river. Monumental colonial cathedral faces beautiful square of flowering trees and climbing roses.
El Inca hostal 150 S hot shower but noisy. Breakfast in the plaza major. Two eggs came poached in a glass tumbler, took me a while to realise what they were.

Find some travelling entertainment in a urinous car park. Come and see Tassia el Fakir Yogya and el Urna de Serpientes. It is so cold the snakes must be torpid and as for Tassia, you wouldn't be able to tell her tits from her goose bumps. Didn't go in.

Posted by 1985 trip 12:15 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

scary bus journey in the Andes

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Monday 28th October

Ripped off over a cup of coffee. Change last sucres back into dollars.

Catch 1pm bus to Huaquiles the border town for Peru. Its a small bus and a god awful road. ┬▒Dramatic descent down an enormous valley, tarmac surface is intermittent, mostly dirt road. Pass several abandoned buses, one still had passengers inside. drive over a couple of landslides that had been roughly levelled. Several men with wheel barrows face the impossible task of mending the road. Bridges without barriers, just logs and dirt infill only wide enough for the bus. Simple wooden crosses mark the edge of the road and presumably where some vehicle left the road forever. Yawning chasms and no guard rails. On one cross I read Rodrigo Rodriguez 25 mai 1982 hand written in felt tip. About half way down the surly looking driver's mate does a whip round. I'd hoped he would toss the money into the chasm, slaughter a chicken and sprinkle the bus with blood. But no a tawdry catholic roadside shrine, a garish grotto with plastic flowers and an iron collection box gets our money and our prayers. He sprinkled some grotto water on the tyres. My prayer was that the money would be spent on some tarmac and not line a Padre's pockets.

Suddenly we were on the alluvial plain and after miles and miles of banana plantations we pulled into Huaquiles the dingy border town. Early in the evening and the town seems full of whores and hustlers working the peruvian shoppers. Grubby little Hostal Internationale 100 S. Spend last Sucres on a bowl of soup.

Posted by 1985 trip 12:26 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

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