Saturday morning and Quito was looking good in the early morning sunshine. According to staff in my hostel and the media, the city was back to normal after the previous day’s demonstrations.
I said my goodbyes to the hostel staff and jumped in a taxi to go to the southern bus terminal. My destination was Banos. I was happy to be on the move again.
Once I reminded the taxi driver to put on the meter, we had a good chat. She said she had seven children and worked four hours in the morning and nine at night. I asked when did she have time to have kids. At lunchtime, she replied.
She stopped the taxi at one stage during the journey to talk to someone on the phone. I could tell she owed a bill and someone wanted to be paid. Thirteen hours a day working a taxi and struggling to pay bills. I think it’s a global problem these days.
As I walked into the bus station, I met an English couple I had chatted to in the hostel. There are no buses to anywhere. The roads are still blocked. I was not a happy man.
The main transport unions have called off the strike but some in the rural areas mostly indigenous people are continuing the strike. They have blocked most major roads in the country.
I made my way back to the city again reminding the taxi driver to turn on the meter. Other people who had left the hostel had also returned. The north bus terminal was the same.
As I checked in again, I said to the receptionist it was just as well I had written a good review on booking.com before I had left. Otherwise, it would have been an awkward check-in.
I put aside my disappointment and made my way to the central market. It is my place of choice to have lunch each day. Two dollars for a delicious meal. One dollar for a freshly made juice guaranteed to thoroughly clean out your system.
These type of markets are, in my opinion, the best places to eat on my travels. I also eat street food, but I wonder if they don’t sell their food does it come out again the next day. Markets are busy, and the turnover of the food is quick.
Later that evening, I was feeling under siege because I could not travel. There were rumours of more trouble in the city that night. I had enough. I was going to have beer trouble or not.
I walked the 1km to the nearest bar. A craft bar, of course. I have written before how I think a lot of this craft beer is a lot of shite. Put the word craft in front of a beer, and you can triple the price.
This bar was no different. Ordinary beer for an extraordinary price.
I got talking to the barman. Do you know of stout? I said, are you joking. I am Irish. He said he was a stout expert. So you know of Guinness I said. No, what is that he replied. Some stout expert I though.
Would you like to try our stout? It is one of the best. I decided I would. Absolutely manky it was and six dollars for the pleasure of trying to drink it.
I think this could be the final nail in the coffin for craft beers and me.
Un Dollar Un Dollar
One thing I like about South America so far it the number of people on the streets trying to make a living. You can buy almost anything. They give the streets a great atmosphere.
Wham Bang thank you Scam
I really dislike scammers. They are very different from other people who approach people trying to sell items. They are just trying to make a living. Scammers if they could they would leave you with nothing and move on.
Many I am sure many would have received calls from people offering a chance to make a lot of money on foreign exchange markets. The stats show that almost 90% of people lose money on these markets. The people who make the calls know this. I think you need to be a special type of person to know this and still make these calls.
I have been lucky never to have got caught by a bad scam. I have been caught with some small scams. Nothing major. Not asking the price of a meal before eating would be an example. Then the bill arrives and you know it is more then it should be. I always ask these days.
I was sitting down in Plaza Santa Domingo in Quito. A guy asked if I wanted my runners cleaned. I said no thanks. He asked me for money. I had a few dollar coins in my pockets, but I just gave him small change. Twenty cents.
As I saw him asking more people to clean their shoes, my conscience would not leave me alone. Twenty cents. I should have given him more. I called him over and asked how much for the clean. He mumbled what I thought was one dollar fifty. I would give him the four dollar coins I had in my pocket.
When he finished a few minutes later, he said sixteen dollars fifty and showed me this written on his box. I knew immediately it was a scam. I turned his box, and it had one fifty on the other side.
As I refused to pay his friend sat on my other side. I said, lets call the police. Because of the protests in the city, there were at least twenty police within shouting distance. I gave him the four dollars and walked away.
It was not a big deal. I did not want my shoes cleaned. They are runners, so the best way I clean these are throwing them into a washing machine. I just wanted to give him a few dollars.
What pisses me off it the knock-on effect scammers have. To me, it was a cheap reminder to be on my guard at all times. The problem is going forward I am sure I will now refuse genuine people in similar circumstances.
I do believe people getting ripped off has a significant effect economically. I think that the behaviour of some taxi drivers has pushed many people to Uber. When I use Uber, it is only for one reason. So I don’t get ripped off.
In Colombia, the taxis were excellent. I prefer to give a local taxi driver money and not have Uber get 30%.
In Quito, I have had to ask every taxi driver to turn on their meter. I have now decided to get an Ecuadorian SIM card so I will have wifi outside the hostel.
I will now use Uber 100% in Quito. Cause and effect.
Monday the 07th Oct 2019
Another attempt to leave Quito but all roads outside the capital are again blocked. The transport unions have gone back to work. The people now striking are the indigenous people of Ecuador.
The indigenous movement is mobilizing indefinitely in the whole country Jaime Vargas, president of the CONAIE umbrella indigenous group has said.
The problem from me is that to go south, you need to pass the indigenous people homelands. They have said no one will pass.
I need to move even if it does not make sense. I have booked a flight on Tuesday for the city of Cuenca. It is in the indigenous area but at least its south. It cost 70 Euro for the flight.
If the strike breaks at least, then I will be one bus journey away from Peru instead of the three I had planned to take from Quito.
I had finished writing my blog in the morning. I then went out for a walk in Quito. I could feel a terrible atmosphere. Soon after the city descended into full-scale riots all over the centre.
This was way different from last week. This was a battle. All-day long there were reports of the indigenous people of Ecuador making their way to Quito. The news was showing shots of truck after truck on their way to the capital.
As darkness fell, the street battels continued all over the city centre.
At 8 pm the indigenous people of Ecuador made their march into the centre. Just outside my hostel in Plaza Santa Domingo. The hostel is in full shutdown, and the guy at the desk refused to let me out to view it. I am sure he knows best.
As I am writing this, it looks like indigenous people have joined the battle with the police. I can hear loud bangs and tear gas is coming in my room window,
It looks like a winner takes all conflict now. Will the president stay tough or will he have to stand down.
Below is some dramatic video I shot during the day.
Join me on my journey.
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