I am in Quito for 3 days. It’s a city of 3 million people living at 9600 feet and surrounded by hills between 13 and 14 thousand feet which rise up dramatically on the edges of the city. It’s late winter/ early spring here. Temperatures range from the 70’s during the day and low 50’s at night. Really pleasant. Just 27 K’s from the equator which we will bike to in 2 days. Like many South American cities, it is a mix of the old and the new as it grows into a more modern city. While much of that is good there are the unfortunate elements such as a McDonalds down the street from our older hotel. One also notices that some of the new public structures suffer a little from lack of maintenance and remaining unfinished as plans are more ambitious than money. Overall it is a beautiful lush city with spacious parks. I have been meeting many of the people I’ll be traveling with for 4 1/2 months. A pretty impressive group. Quite a few Aussies including Terry, Barry and Alex who I roamed the city with yesterday. They are garrulous free spirits quick with a laugh and a G’day mate just as one would expect. Hardy, a German, is a very handsome athletic man who is also working as a free lance writer for the trip. He writes for three different magazines. Cameron, a 40 some old Italian woman who now resides in British Columbia, has been ill with bronchitis and is struggling with the thin air. I was just speaking with Max, who now resides in New York but lists his nationality as Irish and it is clear from our conversation that he lives an existential lifestyle. Helen, our cook has to make meals for 43 people several times a day once we start camping – a big job. She works until Mendoza when we will welcome a new chef. Julie, another Aussie is quiet but appears very capable. I haven’t learned much about her yet. Many others I have met but not in any detail. There will be lots of time to get to know them. Today I go looking again for a sim card for my phone. It’s somewhat difficult to handle technical details since my Spanish is really poor. If I don’t get one it is just fine since we will be in hotels much of the time in Ecuador. Yesterday I took a taxi to the cable car area where I went up to 13,700 for a view of the city. It sprawls out for quite a distance filling this high valley. I will attach a photograph.