I arrived in Quito, Ecuador last night, and my head has pounded since I woke up this morning. Apparently, Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world, and I’m paying for it. The altitude is a quiet, humbling, and spiteful predator that preys on any tourist unaccustomed to living 10,000 feet in the air. Aside from its ability to produce a brain-splitting headache, it can reduce even the fittest of athletes, of which I am nowhere near, to a sputtering, out-of-breath asthmatic, and it only takes walking up some stairs to feel its power.

But Quito is too damn gorgeous to despise for a second, even in my bitter state. The views from any point in the city are jaw-dropping: impressive mountains that surround the city and a deep blue equatorial sky cast a stunning backdrop to its tallest buildings. Within a week, I should be adjusted to the altitude, but I hope to never get adjusted to walking outside without being overwhelmed by the natural beauty of this place.

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