My arrival in Quito is somewhat ominous. The anticipated bloke with the sign bearing my name simply isn't there. I contrive a cab to take me to the hostel so I can abuse them, but the place is banged up with no one in sight.
I am in the Mariscal district of Quito New Town. The many bars are pumping out dubious 'rock' music and a strange combination of sketchy locals and conspicuous yanks are crowding the sidewalk. It is a little after 4pm. I'm prowling the streets with my three bags weighing heavily upon my shoulders, and resolve to check myself into the first hotel I see, regardless of any characteristics that it may or may not possess.
Luckily for me, the first place I stumble upon is a very fine boutique hotel, with matching prices. I wearily abandon my bags and promptly crash out, despite the thumping musical sounds emanating from the street below. By the time I come to, it is dark. The music is louder and the streets throng with people. I may as well be staying in Leicester fucking Square.
I decide to conduct a little reconnaissance, find a bar to prop up and maybe somewhere to eat. I walk a few blocks but can't believe how rubbish it is. Crap bars, drunk Americans, dodgy locals. I am in desperate need of a beer but can't find anywhere I would deliberately walk into in order to consume one. Eventually I pull a double take as I walk past an inconspicuous, shit looking place with a couple of empty bar stools. That'll do for me.
It transpires that it is a karaoke bar. I sit unobtrusively sipping my 'Conquer' whilst brushing up on my Spanish thanks to the lyrics flashing across the screen. One guy really can sing. He is followed by a girl who really can't. Her enormous breasts, whilst obscuring almost everything else within a two-block radius, can't hide the fact that most animals, in the last painful throes of their lives, emit more melodious notes than her more than ample lungs.
Later, when she unsuccessfully attempts to seduce me, I take my cue to leave. I can't find a restaurant that doesn't look rubbish, so finally settle for the one next to my hotel where I am entitled to a free mojito. I chuck this back with a beer chaser and eat. The food's better than I expected, but halfway through it dawns on me that I am in a bar with fake trees propping up the ceiling, surrounded by drunk Americans, and I would rather be suspended naked from the Statue of Eros than spend another second on these streets. I retreat, earplugs in, curtains drawn, and plan a move into the Old Town for tomorrow.
Nobody likes a quitter I know, but I really have no choice.