Home > Ecuador > Scouting the route to Quito’s brand new airport, Part Two

Scouting the route to Quito’s brand new airport, Part Two

Leaving the now modern satellite city of Cumbaya, we continue our journey with a consistent west to east course.  Looking backwards, we can now see the Ecuadorian capital city’s eastern hills and the skyline of high-rise condos of one of Quito’s main east-side avenues.

A short distance away from Cumbaya is Tumbaco, formerly a rural village and now building up as one more prosperous satellite town, east of Quito.  However, the surrounding countryside does provide an unmistakable and charming rural ambiance.  Roadside kiosks offer typical Andean dishes such as roasted guinea-pigs; corn-on-the-cob and fried plantains. At one of the village`s main intersections, a host of street vendors offer the motorists from candies to car appliances. Further along we can also watch some sidewalk workshops where skilled local artisans carve inexpensive and good quality furniture.

Since our target is to reach the premises of Quito’s ultra-modern new airport, due to begin its operations in February of 2013, we continue our road ride, now descending towards a semi-arid gorge, the winding canyon naturally carved by the Chiche River. A mid-length and slightly narrow, two-lane metallic bridge, crosses over the slow-moving and brown-colored waters.  The agave plants, with their tree-like stems rising high over the mountainous scenery, some of them bearing white colored flowers, give a kind of rare-beauty to the view.  As we climb up again past the bridge, we now look at the well-trimmed installations of one of Quito’s popular soccer clubs.  Reaching one more lookout point along the road and, always facing east, we get a privileged view of the huge plateau of Tababela, a near perfect natural rectangle, surrounded by ancient geological ravines.  The Tababela plateau is precisely the location of the new airport.  From this vantage point we can clearly observe the 4.100-meters long main runway, the ample spaces and the tall and futuristic looking control tower.  In a few months, this will be Quito, the Ecuadorian capital city’s port of entry by air.

Now we go past the quaint village of Puembo, with its traditionally Andean adobe houses, tile-roofs and cobble-stoned streets.  A small roadside shrine marks the entrance to Puembo; while the town’s main square features a small but post-card perfect two-towered church, a small park with a central fountain, gardens and benches for the locals and visitors to relax.  At one side, the white-walled City Hall houses the local municipality’s offices.  On the side streets, small restaurants tempt the by-passers with sidewalk stalls displaying brass pots which offer the delicious flavors of roasted or fried pork, some of the most popular Andean culinary delicacies, served with onions, a local-style vinaigrette and tiny tomato chunks, usually accompanied by hominy or potato patties.    We decide that this is where we will definitely have lunch on our way back to Quito; the “hornado” and “fritada” pork delicacies are just too good and tempting to miss.

On our final stretch of a few kilometers, we catch perfect sights of the mighty Cotopaxi Volcano framing the scene towards the south, its giant mass of shinning white snow and glaciers, beautifully contrasting with a near-perfect blue sky, dotted with a few clouds.  Slightly west-southwest from us stands the ancient Ilalò Mountain, a dormant volcano and site of one of Ecuador’s most antique Pre-Columbian cultures. Now, we have reached the Tababela plateau, dominated by the humongous infrastructure, on the final stage of its construction, of Quito’s brand-new International Airport.  Besides from being the newest in South America, it will boast one of Latin America’s longest runways and state-of-the-art technology on all of its installations, facilities and services.  A short guided tour by the Airport authority’s staff, allows us to envision the magnitude and modernity of the Ecuadorian capital city’s new airport, with the added value of having a highly scenic route to enjoy, on arrival or departure, framed by awesome views of the Andean Cordillera and Ecuador’s unique “Avenue of the Volcanoes”.

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