Author Archives: Tara

Growing Accustomed to Transport in Quito

Becoming acquainted with using a map in a new city can be a daunting process, let alone learning the ins-and-outs of public transportation and the etiquette a foreigner must use to avoid getting ripped off.

When I first arrived in Quito, transportation seemed a bit overwhelming. But once you face the challenge, it’s really not that difficult to grow accustomed to using it all. There are a few pieces of advice I wish I had known before I came, so I thought I’d dish them out.

1: Especially when traveling from the Mariscal, ask a taxi driver if they have a ”taximetro” (a meter that calculates distance and price) before accepting the ride and fare. This will let the driver know you have a bit of a clue as to how the system works here, and that they’ll have a hard time fooling you. However, also remember that fares are raised at night, and drivers are not required to use the meter.

2: The Ecovia: Rio Coca is northbound, San Marin is southbound. Again, Rio Coca in northbound, San Marin is southbound…

3: You may find yourself standing on a random corner, with no bus stop sign in sight, and that’s okay. Buses may stop anyway. It’s hard to tell where the bus is headed. If you know enough Spanish, simply ask the bus driver to pull over closest to your destination. But there are also signs on the lower left-hand corner of the dashboards, telling you their final destination.

Pop up bus by Leokoolhoven

Pop up bus by Leokoolhoven


When growing accustomed to the public transportation system in a new city, be patient and have a sense of humor. There may be times you take the wrong bus, miss a stop or have to hoist yourself up through the door while in motion. All these things are normal, have a little fun!



Venturing into El Almuerzo

During my first week living in Quito and working in the V!VA Travel Guide office, I was challenged with finding the perfect lunch spot to fit my budget and keep my mental energy high and alert for the remainder of the workday. What better than an almuerzo joint?

”Almuerzos” are generally open during lunch with a pre-determined menu, offering juice, soup, a main dish, and, depending on the quality of the almuerzo joint, a dessert. All this food amounts roughly to $1.50-$3.50.

For my first venture, I shuffled down Diego del Almagro, attempting to find  nice almuerzo while staying loyal to my monthly budget. Within a couple of blocks, I found a sign posted outside a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant with ”ceviche”-a seafood concoction marinated in fresh juices and spices-as the main course.  If you asked, I wouldn’t be able to give you the name or the exact address.

High-quality ceviche (ceviche by powerplantop)

Once I plopped down in my chair, the server immediately presented me with a heaping portion of soup. I tried to identify its contents before I slipped the spoon in my mouth, but couldn’t. Instead I poked and jabbed at the meat until three Ecuadorian men sat down at my table. The tiny restaurant was reaching capacity.

”Do you know what kind of meat this is?” I asked. In Spanish of course.

The three men poked at their own soup and let out a boisterous laugh.

”No se.” One of the men replied.

Apparently for a meal this cheap, the animal origin of its ingredients is hardly a factor. Nonetheless, I forced down the ambiguous soup, and the ceviche was quite tasty. My subsequent ventures to other almuerzos near the office have all been positive. Plus, they’re great for practicing Spanish with locals.