We just ended a long holiday weekend here in Quito. December 6 is the anniversary of the Spanish foundation of the city. For many people, this involves four or five days of festivities… bullfights, parades, and dancing in the streets.
For us, however, the *big* event of the weekend was lunch at the new Subway, which opened yesterday in the food court of one of our local shopping malls. This is important. Subway is Jamie’s all-time favorite place to eat. More than her grandmother’s or anyone else’s cooking. Including her own. 🙂
Now, to understand what this post is about, you need to know a little bit about this city. As you may know, Quito lies in a long, narrow valley high in the northern Andes Mountains of Ecuador, at an altitude of 2,850 meters (9,470 feet). There is not much space to grow, other than to spill into the surrounding valleys. (You can click on the pictures for a larger image!)
This particular shopping mall where we were eating is located on the city’s western slope. And the food court has a spectacular view of the city. So we sat right next to the window to enjoy the view.
Notice the clear area in the center of the picture? Let’s zoom in a little for a closer look.
Can’t figure it out yet? Let’s zoom in a lot closer… Yep, it’s the airport, with a Taca plane at the end of the airstrip, ready to take off.
And taking off!
Here is an aerial view of the airport. To the left, circled in white, is the area were the shopping mall is located. And we live just a few blocks below that. Yep… a five-minute drive to the airport.
A lot of people think an airport like this is crazy. In truth, if you look at the statistics, you will find it has a good track record. But it is small. Too small for a metropolitan city like Quito. So a new one (ten times larger than this one) is being built, and is scheduled to start operating in 2011. This airport will then be converted into a park.
Although only about 20 km away geographically, because of the mountain topography it is now going to take us at least an hour to get to the new airport. Needless to say, we are certainly going to miss the current one, and the fact that we pretty much leave for the airport when we hear the plane land.