Back in April of 2020 I purchased round trip tickets to Ecuador for October of that year. We were two weeks into the shutdown and airfare prices had tanked as travel had all but stopped. Naively, I thought that surely this pandemic will be long over by autumn. Of course, that was not to be, but luckily I got my money refunded. Two years later, I thought it time to try again for “The One That Got Away.”
What originally drew me to this South American country was its capital, Quito, and its colonial old town, said to be the largest of its kind. I planned on spending the first half of my week around this city and its narrow streets and alleys before moving on to daytrips to the country for the last three days. So it was that I got up early on my first morning in Ecuador and set out for the old town to catch the best morning light.
Quito lies in a narrow valley high up in the Andes mountains, a city of three million perched at almost two miles in altitude. With very few tall buildings, its skyline is entirely alpine in character, consisting of a panoramic view of the mountains. From the historic town center, the view can be like something out of Inception, as surrounding neighborhoods seem to rise almost vertically at the end of every street. The colonial-era Spanish churches are beautiful, as is the massive nineteenth-century basilica, which itself is the tallest building in Quito. It is a fun town to photograph.
Sadly, I left a lot unexplored, as I got mugged an hour into my very first morning’s shoot. I did not want to let that ruin my trip, and can say it was lucky that it didn’t happen at the end of the trip, as a week’s worth of photos would have been gone along with the camera. I was able to to replace my camera and most other gear the next day, and resolved to make the best of the rest of the trip. In my remaining time in the city, I got a few shots that I’m happy with but I’m painfully aware of how much I didn’t get to shoot. Quito, in some respects, will remain the One That Got Away.
The Teleferiqo is a cable car that takes you up to one of the surrounding mountain tops for a panoramic view of the city. I wanted to get there towards sunset for the best light, which was a mistake. I would learn that the weather in Quito this time of year usually starts with dazzling sunshine before clouds roll in promptly towards sunset. During the 15 minute ride up to the top, I watched blue sky suddenly give way to gloom. Consequently I didn’t get any great twilight panoramas of the city, but I took a few looking down the other side of the mountain, where a couple churches stood out against the backdrop of quickly encroaching clouds.