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Where the Streets Have No Name

It’s Okay in the Center of Town, But ...

It’s Okay in the Center of Town, But …

When Dan and I started driving in Quito, we made a dismaying discovery. We spent a whole morning looking for a road atlas of Ecuador, and were greatly surprised that no one thought such a thing existed. And all city maps we had showed none of the outskirts, just the centro historico or tourist center of town.

Worse was to come: Once we left the center of town, there were almost no signs at street corners indicating where we were. Even if we had a good street atlas, it wouldn’t have helped, as most of the streets were strictly incognito. Missing were any directional indicators, most notably for E-35, the Pan-American Highway, the main trunk highway, which runs north/south through the center of the country. Where there were signs, they were more often than not for relatively minor streets.

The net result is that we got badly lost in the cities. All we could do is look out for intercity buses to see where they were going (if we were so lucky as to pass them) and follow them. Where there were no intercity buses in evidence, we tries to orient ourselves to the nearest known volcano and look for wider roads headed roughly in the right direction.

In Quito, we finally lucked out and found ourselves on the Pan-American Highway, but we didn’t know for about 40 miles that we were on the right track.

And then the E-35 lost itself in a warren of streets in the city of Ambato. In tomorrow’s post, I will explain how getting lost in Ambato led to the most transcendent moment in our whole vacation—just by sheer persistence and good luck!