Quito and Ambato: Going back to my place of birth after 28 years

Ambato

The journey to Ecuador was a special one. When we started this trip, we weren’t sure if we would head north or south from Nicaragua. We ended up going south and I think deep inside it was because we wanted to go to Ecuador, the country where I was born. My parents worked in international development and one of the countries that they lived and worked in was Ecuador. I was born in Quito in 1985 and lived in Ambato, a smaller city south of Quito for three years.

Of course I don’t remember anything but I have seen many pictures from that time which in my mind have become like memories. In order for me to leave the country I had to get an Ecuadorian passport. When I was 18, I had the choice between only having an Ecuadorian passport (they don’t accept dual-citizenship) or keeping the Swiss passport. Although Ecuador has always been a special place to me, I didn’t have any connection to this country and would have felt pretty awkward to tell people that I was Ecuadorian. It didn’t feel right because it’s not my home.

But then again where is home for a 3rd Culture Kid?

I ended up keeping my Swiss passport because it is, after all, the country where my parents are from. But to Ecuadorians this doesn’t matter. Everyone who found out that I was born in Quito called me “quiteña” – a Spanish expression for a person who comes from Quito.

Quito

We only stayed in Quito for a few nights, but this short time was pretty intense. We stayed at the Secret Garden Hostel, the main hangout spot for backpackers. The location was good, especially the rooftop terrace added to the experience. The rest was decent, too, but it is a little bit too big for my taste.

Quito was another one of those destinations that we planed very carefully when to visit. Wednesday is the day to be in Quito for backpackers because this is when the legendary party at Bungalow 6 takes place. It is hard to top this ladies night. Girls are welcome from 8 pm and they get free drinks until 10 pm. In the meantime the boys start to gather outside and look through the window to check out the girls. Exactly at 10 pm, the gate opens that has been keeping males and females separate, and the party begins.

What sounds like a primitive ritual is actually a lot of fun.

The crowd is a good mix between locals and backpackers and the DJ plays different music from Salsa to Hip Hop. We had a blast and stayed out all night.

Of course, we suffered the next day during the three-hour walking tour through the old town of Quito. We went passed the market, government buildings and cultural sights. I am always a fan of free walking tours because they are informative and interesting. In this case I was tired and hung over and couldn’t wait for it to end. Nevertheless we were happy that we did it and couldn’t wait to explore more of what used to be our country of residence.

Quito

Quito

Ambato

We continued our journey to Ambato, where we lived for three years in the eighties. It is not a place where other backpackers would go but this is what we liked about it. It’s a typical South American town with women dressed in traditional clothing and hats and where life mainly takes place on the streets. We were there because we wanted to see the house where we used to live and meet our old family friends. Soon after we arrived, we took a taxi and went looking for our old home. It took a while to find it, but once we saw it, it was clear. The house looked just like in the pictures and an old lady was nice enough to let us into the compound to take a closer look.

It was a great feeling to be there and to be able to report back to our parents that the house is still standing.

We spent a wonderful evening with our parents’ friend and her lovely family (including partners of her children and grandkids). Some of them used to take care of us when we were babies. We were a bit overwhelmed when we realized that over ten people had come to see us and we couldn’t remember any of them. But because they were so kind and welcoming, we felt comfortable in no time. It was really nice for a change to spend a cosy family evening at home.

Including Ambato, we changed hostels 22 times in six weeks.

We were tired of moving around all the time and riding buses and just wanted to find a nice place at the coast to spend the rest of our time in Ecuador. So off we went to Montañita. Read my next post to find out all about how we experienced Ecuador’s coast.

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