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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

16 June 2004

RTW 04: Ecuador

Ecuador (Quito, Amtabo, Baños) 07/06/04 – 15/06/04

My friend and I had read about just how incredibly dangerous Quito was supposed to be, so were a bit scared on first arriving in the city. However, our hostel, The Secret Garden, turned out to be pretty cool. Comfortable, friendly, and a great view of the city. The meals were decent enough, but the best part was the sociable atmosphere, with guests encouraged to congregate at one of the regular hostel parties.

Using Quito as a base, we headed to see the Centre of the World (Centro Del Mundo). Amusingly enough, despite all the fanfare, merchandise and sculptures, this isn't actually the centre of the world anymore. The equator has shifted in the centuries since the original measurement, meaning enterprising locals can do things like set up a 'real' equator museum (much smaller than the posh official one, but at least it was actually the equator). As this is the centre of the world, it is supposedly the only place where you can do a 'straight flush', without the usual swirling in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.

Baños is a spa town some distance away, which we managed to miss at first because we took the wrong bus. The poor taxi driver was getting very confused at our insistence that he find the hotel on a certain road, when of course that would be impossible as the hotel in question was in a different city. Oops.

Once we actually got to Baños, it turned out there is a random zoo a bit outside the main town, though I have my doubts about its ethics. The spider monkey in particular looked to be in bad shape. The animal kingdom almost got its revenge on the inhabitants when I went horse riding later on. Safety was out of the question, with no helmets, while riding up steep, slippery slopes and precarious cliff edges. While attempting to move around the latter, I very nearly knocked a local into thin air, thanks to my distinct lack of control over my steed.

Arriving back in Quito, I changed my tickets to stay with my friend a little longer, but eventually had to head back home to the UK as my funds ran out: she was staying on longer, to go through Bolivia, Peru and Argentina (and Colombia, unintentionally: her plane randomly stopped there overnight. Not the safest place to be stuck on your own). Having since got into Brazilian jiu jitsu, if I ever get back to South America, Brazil is naturally going to be right at the top of my wishlist.

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