Quito - City of Persnickety Cabbies
So I'm trying to get a taxi to take me to an evening concert at the Basilica de Voto Nacional. It was within walking distance, but it was a long walk, and my guide book advised taking taxis after dark for all but the shortest distances if one was traveling alone. The street my hotel was on doesn't get much traffic, so I went to the next street, flagged a cab, and got in. "Basilica de Voto Nacional" didn't seem to register with the cabbie (very odd, as it is one of the biggest cathedrals in town) so I showed him how to get there on my map. As we were heading away from the cathedral, this involved making two right turns and going straight for several blocks. This, it seems, was too much trouble, so the cabbie pulled over and pointed to the next street over. Somewhat perplexed, I exited his cab and walked to the next street (where traffic was heading directly to the Basilica) and flagged another cab. Again, my destination seemed unknown, and when I tried to show the cabbie my map and point out that all he had to do was drive in a straight line for several blocks, he indicated that he wasn't interested in any non-Spanish speaking passengers and ordered me out of the cab. By now, I'm rather angry, but after going a block out of my way on the first ride, I've regained the lost distance and then some as the second driver went a couple short blocks while we "discussed" the map. I figured if I make a block or two with each aborted ride, I'd only need about four or five more rides. As it turned out, the next cabbie had no problem taking me where I wanted to go.
Aside from the above, I found the people in Quito very friendly and helpful, and despite various safety warnings online and in my guidebook, I felt very comfortable there.
Quito is rather striking, filled with old colonial era buildings and surrounded by mountains. I stayed in the old town and aside from a day trip to a few equators, I didn’t venture out of the old town. I stayed at Hostal Rincon Familiar, for a mere $72 (total!) for four nights in a private room, which included a modest breakfast (scrambled egg, bread, cheese, coffee/tea and fresh-squeezed (and delicious) juice. The shower was interesting - I wasn't very comfortable with the "insulation" on the electric shower head, but proceeded to use it anyway. It delivered plenty of hot water, but when I adjusted the shower head position, I could feel a mild but distinct electrical current. English was pretty spotty with the hotel staff, but one of the managers spoke very good English, and when I encountered him a few days later and described the issue, he said if I wore flip-flops I would not feel the shock. Other than that, I was very happy and would return to this same hostal.