Approximate reading time: 12 minutes
Quito! Capital of Ecuador! And at the same time the highest capital of the world! But how can that be with ‘only’ 2,850 m in altitude? I was very shocked, when I read this a few months ago, because I was always on the assumption, that Bolivia has the highest capital of the world. Then I was happy, because my assumption was semi-correct: La Paz is on 3,640 m of altitude. Then I was shocked again, because in La Paz is the seat of the Bolivian government, but it’s not the official capital of Bolivia. Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia and retains the judicial power. And with only 2,810 m in altitude it’s not the highest capital of the world. And Quito is very proud on these 40 m more!
Quito is as well the capital of the world, that is located closest to the equator. Apart from that, Quito has several wonderful nicknames:
– Luz de América (Light of America)
– Carita de Dios (God’s Face)
– Ciudad de los Cielos (City of the heavens)
I had the opportunity to be in Quito for three months. Sober and realistically analyzed, I must say, that it was a valuable experience in my life. Read here five analytical reasons to live in Quito, but on the other hand as well five reasons that made me leave the city again. I want to be equilibrated and balanced as the equator.
First reason to live in Quito: You will be delighted by the food
People vary from each other. Some just like to get full and save money. Others like to dine at banquets and spend more for good quality. I am others. If you are others as well, your stomach will be happy. Quito has much to offer for food travelers and many own recipes and dishes, where the Quiteños are very proud of. I would like to share few nice pictures of the dishes I ate during that time:
Second reason to live in Quito: It has one of the oldest historical centers of South America
Quito was found on December 6, 1534, so only a few days before Las Vegas. The capital of Ecuador has a large colonial old town with many important buildings and monuments, especially monasteries and churches in the style of colonial baroque. The historical center of Quito was the first city to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Already in 1978. If you don’t believe my words again, but still want to get a few impressions and more informations from the ancient and beautiful town, please consider the following link.
Third reason to live in Quito: There is so much to do…Around Quito!
Okay, okay. A funny reason, isn’t it? I want to give arguments to live in Quito and write, that there a lot to do outside of the city. Hahaha. But seriously: There are several things to do and see around of the city, that you can have an adventurous weekend to relax. If you’re not hungover in bed and oversleep the whole weekend. Within one hour driving time, there are several interesting things to see that give you a variety of options: The middle of the world, high mountains for interested climbers, a lot of forests, national parks, etc. Best thing is, that they are quite easy and cheap to reach with good bus connections. But this only as a recommendation. Quito itself as a city offers as well sufficient things to do. It never gets boring in and around Quito!
Fourth reason to live in Quito: Nowhere else you will learn a cleaner Spanish than in Quito
We all know the Spanish people who speak with a lisp and swallow down several words of a sentence. Or the unsexy Rioplatense dialect of Argentina and Uruguay. Maybe you’ve heard also the rapid Spanish from the Dominican Republic – Only machine guns fire faster.
But nowhere else than in Quito I’ve heard before a cleaner and clearer Spanish. Pure pronunciation, smooth voices and a becalmed speed of speaking: People from Quito will help you by nature to understand them.
“Residents of tiny Ecuador have a clear northern Andean accent and the pretty capital city of Quito alone contains nearly 100 Spanish schools.”
I’m learning and speaking as well Spanish since several years and learned it in different areas: Six months in Peru, eight months in Spain and four months in Paraguay. But nowhere else was I picking up words, sayings and meanings in such a fast manner as during my time in Ecuador. Thank you, people from Quito: You helped me a lot to learn Spanish quickly!
Fifth reason to live in Quito: You lose weight – 100% for sure!
Even Jabba the Hutt should now read carefully the following lines. Because you will lose easily weight in Quito and don’t have to do much for it. Yes, I promise herewith to everyone of my readers, that a visit to Quito lets you lose at least 1 kilogram of your body weight.
If you want to reduce the weight without having to lose your masses, you should have to look for a location with a lower gravitational acceleration. At its summit you are soooo far away from the center of the earth, as you can only be away without leaving the earth’s surface! Although Mount Everest in the Himalayas is much higher than sea level, Quito is almost directly on the equator. This is relevant because the earth is not a perfect sphere. Due to its rotation and centrifugal force, it is slightly bulged in the middle, or in other words: the distance from the center of the earth to the north or south pole is shorter than the distance from the center of the earth to the equator. At the equator you are also far away from the earth’s axis; Therefore, the centrifugal force caused by the earth’s rotation is greatest.
If you didn’t understand a single word of what I wrote because you skipped the physics classes in college and want to believe my words but still see a proof for that, I can recommend the following screenshot:
Multilinguist Phil translates exclusively and for free for you to understand:
“In Ecuador your weight is less than in your country of origin, because it is the most width part of the earth and we are far away from the centre/core of the earth. Therefor the gravity strength is less.”
Okay, I must admit, that these words read more simple than mine 🙂
I took this photo at the ‘Museo Intiñan’, the solar museum in Quito. A really interesting place to visit, I will write about it another day. But this should be proof enough for my complicated words! If you decide to climb on Chimborazo, 150 km away from Quito, you will lose on 6,263 m of altitude even more than 1 kg weight. Good to trick your own diet.
Apart from that, you can lose weight as well due to the healthy Ecuadorian kitchen and walking through the city. There is a lot to see and with a lightly filled stomach you can discover many interesting places in Quito. The hilly and mountainous surrounding of Quito shape your calves to a sturdy mass. But that depends on your behavior. If you are a convinced fast-food consumer and prefer to discover the city in a taxi or hop on hop off-bus, you’ll definitely not losing a microgram.
First reason to leave Quito: The medical treatment and doctors of the city are awful
The worst and most dramatic reason I was suffering from personally. Getting sick, paying a lot of cash for incompetent doctors and not getting healed or treated professionally, so that you will get sick soon again. If you want to read more about “Why you shouldn’t get sick in Quito”, I recommend to invest some time in the following blog article I wrote.
Second reason to leave Quito: Living costs are unjustified high
Thanks to the Yankees and Gringos, Ecuador has as well the US-Dollar as official currency since 2000 and far higher prices than in other South American countries. But that’s not the only reason for the high living costs. I would like to explain a few reasons for the high costs of living in Quito:
1. Yankees, Gringos and $: As explained above
2. No own industries: Ecuador in general doesn’t have many own industries and produces products themselves. Therefore, they are dependent on many imports to keep the country running.
3. Import tax: The utter competent and intelligent Ecuadorian government set up a tax for every imported product of in average 20% for every imported good or service. What had the effect, that people in general consumed and spent less money of course.
4. Capital city: Of course are prices in the capital higher than in the rest of the country – That’s quite usual for a capital.
5. Weak competition in retail industry: Apart from small shops and convenience stores, there isn’t a good situation of competition in the retail industry. Only two players on the same market supply the population with higher priced goods.
The scenario and prejudice, that South America is cheap to live can be exhausted when living in Quito. Compared to many other capitals or cities, it’s quite expensive to keep a life running in Quito. Maybe the snob from rich Europe or U.S. doesn’t really acknowledge the difference, but for ‘normal people’ as me, it was challenging to live there. I was already forced to change several aspects of my behavior to make ends meet. But my deepest respect for the families who have to nourish three/four/five children! More about the living costs of Quito you can find here.
Third reason to leave Quito: The traffic situation and air pollution is terrible
Streets are always congested with cars, busses, taxis, motorcycles, etc. Every of these vehicle produces more pollution and noise than you would even imagine. You won’t be able to have an easy conversation on the street or on the phone with someone, because you won’t be able to understand a single word. Honking cab drivers aren’t supportive here and aggravate the situation. Followed by the loud noises it happens, that people still try to have a conversation on the streets or phones and yell at each other. First I thought that I entered a wild city where it’s bon ton to scream at each other. But then I realized, that they are simply adapting their communication to the surrounding noises of Quito.
I remember one situation when I was a pedestrian in a street crossing and three busses and two taxis were quickly driving and crossing each other. The air was completely black and dusty, I couldn’t even see until the other side of the street, that was five meter away. Disgusting! Some people are crossing the streets with respiratory masks as it is common in Hong Kong or Tokyo. If everything goes wrong and there is fog, smog, the general air pollution you will encounter days, where you can’t see farther than 10 – 15 meters.
Fourth reason to leave Quito: Safety reasons
Firstly I have to say, that never happened anything to me. Neither in Quito, nor in another city of South America. Somehow I stayed a crime-virgin and never ever happened anything to me. But same behavior takes effect as for every other country in South America: Watch your bags, don’t go out with all your documents in your purse and never walk alone at night from a bar to your apartment. Although I never suffered personally from any crime I was warned as well several times from the local population. You can read here more about the crime statistics in Ecuador if you like.
Fifth reason to leave Quito: Same rhythm – Different day
You like the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray when you live every day the same chronology and rhythm? Then Quito is the perfect city for you, because here everything will repeat and almost nothing will change. Three things that change only marginal in Quito:
Apparent time: Every day a sunrise and sunset. That’s not really new, but what is different in Quito? The difference in Quito is, that there isn’t much difference in the daily time of light. Every day almost the same average of daylight, no long evenings or short days possible.
Seasons: Four seasons? Yes, you can order that in a pizzeria but not see and feel it yourself in the capital of Ecuador. Here you have only two seasons, winter and summer. But also these two seasons are almost equal to each other, with only a micro change. Which one? In winter it is raining more than in summer. Hooray!
Weather: How to pack my bag when I will walk through Quito? Umbrella? Sweater? T-Shirt and sunglasses? I suggest every of these items. The weather in Quito is unpredictable and humiliates everyone consistently. You will freeze during cold and windy mornings, get burned during noon from the sunshine and soak yourself wet during rainy afternoons and evenings. And at night? If you’ve bad luck, it continues raining, if you’re lucky the climate changes to cold and windy to prepare for the second day.
Well, I hope I could give you a good impression why you should and shouldn’t live in Quito. If you have any more or specific questions, contact me!