This apartment is very, very quiet—I never heard a sound from any other apartment, and though the street in front can be a bit noisy on some nights, I heard almost no noise from the master bedroom, which fronts onto a courtyard in back. I’m a very light sleeper, but I had no trouble sleeping here. The pictures give an accurate impression of the apartment, which I found roomy enough to be comfortable for two people, and sufficient for three. Lily and Leo are easy to work with. They respond to phone calls and emails almost immediately, and if something needed fixing, they dealt with it right away.
A word about safety. Quito has a reputation for petty crime. I think this reputation is exaggerated. I lived here for three months, and I had no trouble whatsoever. There are two reasons for this.
First, I followed the advice Lily gave me to the letter. Their advice was detailed and practical; they have lived here for a few years, and they know the country well. If you do as they advise and use common sense, then, with a bit of luck, you should be fine. The Ecuadorian people are really very nice to deal with.
The second reason is that the neighborhood is safe. The front of the apartment building is about 25 feet from the end of La Ronda, a heavily-policed pedestrian lane roughly three blocks long, with countless restaurants and bars, and lots of people and street performers. I never saw La Ronda without some security guards around even when it was deserted. In fact, one of the guards is permanently stationed almost in front of the apartment building. Moreover, Calle Rocafuerte, the main street at the other end of Calle Paredes (the short street the apartment is on) seemed pretty safe to me as well. I was up there all the time and had no trouble at all. Finally, the apartment is on the edge of El Centro, the historic district of Quito, and El Centro is safe if you don’t stay out past 10:00 p.m. With La Ronda nearby, you won’t want to anyway. El Centro is lovely, by the way.
I usually ended up in La Ronda every night for at least a beer or a short walk, and it served as a sort of second living room for me. The best restaurant I found in Quito is at the end of La Ronda furthest from the apartment; it’s called “La Negra Mala” and the chef is very, very good. The dinners are $7-9 a plate, which is a bit high for Quito, but it’s worth it. (Restaurants in La Ronda vary widely in quality.) Also, there’s a very good local restaurant a minute’s walk from the apartment, where I ate most of my breakfasts and some of my lunches. It’s called “El Chef,” and it’s at S2-31, on Av. Maldonado. Just cross Plaza Cumanda, which is right next to the apartment building, and go up the stairs to Maldonado, where the trolley stations are. Don’t go across Maldonado, but turn left, cross the bridge, and the first building you come to is a concrete building in a vaguely art-deco style. El Chef is a very simple little restaurant with three tables inside and some phone booths people pay to use; it’s pretty basic, but it’s the best breakfast place around, and the lady who runs it is very nice. Try her Encebollado: a fish soup that sells for $2.
One more tip: learn a little Spanish—Ecuadorians almost never speak English. There is a good Spanish school a 15 minute walk from the apartment, where I was tutored one-on-one for $5.50 an hour (the rate depends on how many hours you sign up for). About 20 hours should be just enough to get by, and you can do that in a week.
California State University, Fullerton
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