Published: October 21st 2007October 1st 2007
The city lies between two mountain ranges. All the streets are steep. Construction creeps upwards.
Travelling to Quito with an electrical student as a seat mate required only two hours. Being in the aisle seat, on a public bus that was totally full, I had no opportunity to take shots of the countryside.
Driving into the city involved going thru numerous tunnels up steep streets and down steep inclines thru another tunnel. Overhead walkways, stairs going up between houses and the houses themselves seeming to be built atop one another gave a quick and permanent picture of the walking that would be required.
At the Quito bus station we grabbed taxis and were on our way … until every vehicle seemed to be going in the same direction. It was election Sunday the taxi driver explained. In further conversation he told me that everyone over 18 was obliged to vote and a fine would be levied if this was not complied to. People were going to local Colleges to vote. Later in the day I did see a big crowd … families, baby carriages, groups of friends and individuals.. coming in and out of the high gates of the college.
After travelling we knew not where, with the guys in the back and
In the Gondola
Up to 4.050 m in hail, driving rain, thunder, lightning and wind. Still smiling we joined others equally adventurous at the top of the mountain.
me in the front of the pick-up truck that served as a colectivo, the man turned right and began to climb a road that had to be at the angle of a small lampshade or the line from the corner of your footstool to the floor. When he stopped I had to ask him if it was safe … would he roll. He turned his wheels in and pulled the safety brake!
I am in a room with Merrick, Tony and Paul. The other four, Pablo, Amy (new), Kate and Chad were downstairs. Karen and Cat went to a hostel where they knew the person from five years ago, across the street from a bar and with TV in the room.
Room 10 went for Chinese and then a walk to the Basilica. The approach was STEEP. The stained glass windows numbered too many to count, were all of high quality and had no dates on them…bummer!
We walked all around the Basilica. When going down a cement staircase from one street to another we noticed spikes on the steel banister. This definitely discourages sliding down either on your behind or if a small kid, in straddle
Blurred View of Quito
Two dollars for 'jubiladas' and not a view to be had. Waited for almost an hour. The city remained locked in dismally cold, wet clouds.
And as luck would have it I stumbled out of my shoe ( this is the only explanation as there was no hole in the sidewalk…not this time), turned my ankle, tore open my knee, bruised and scratched my elbow when I hit the wall and landed on the left side of my face wrenching my glasses out of shape. Could not recover once I started to go down because of the incline…some streets are so steeply angled. Merrick helped me up. Tony had no clue I had fallen because he was too far ahead. Paul was concerned and solicitous.
I WAS THOROUGHLY PISSED OFF! By next morning I was still explisiving. Had to spend the day with my foot up. Missed going with Paul back to the Basilica. He climbed right to the very top of the highest steeple. He has great pictures he is willing to share. His description of how he climbed up ladders and across walkways is exciting even when hearing it the third time … I try to imagine myself climbing up so high … mainly because I can only take threes rungs on a step ladder. I would like to have
Hail & Rain
There was a definite accumulation of the white stuff!
taken pictures of all the wondrous stained glass.
I remained at the Casa Bambu for the day. Merrick and Chad brought me food. I read the novel ‘Fall on Your Knees’ by a Canadian, about Cape Breton, recommended by Oprah.
Next day I went by us to Mitad del Mundo … the centre of the Earth at the equator. The name sake of Ecuador and Quito it was a park set up to entice the tourist to take photos and spend money.
Room 10 went by local bus for less than a dollar, thirty kilometres to 0’0’.
For lunch we did not eat the $15 guinea pig on a spit. Had chicken soup instead with the biggest drumstick seen in years, a big egg and a piece of potato in delicious broth for two dollars?
Merrick and I were in a small rush to get back to the city. We were going up to 4.050 m in a gondola.
We took a taxi up the mountain retracing the road we had just taken in by bus. As we climbed up thru a lovely neighbourhood it began to rain. Then it was hailing stones the size of
This may be as close as I get to snow this year.
a small finger nail. Buying the ticket I ask the woman, “Is it safe?”
“Oh yes”, she answers.
Merrick and I run from escalator to escalator three times and arrive at the line-up space for the gondola.
There is no line up. The weather is lousy. The taxi driver said we should have come in the morning. There is no view. It is cold. I buy a scarf. We drink hot chocolate and eat a pastry. We wait. At one point we see more of the city. Most of the pictures are f the accumulation of ice on the window frames.
On the way down, the gondola is shared with three Venezuelan, simpatico types, good-looking and friendly.
Once more in a taxi. This time the driver has rooked me into paying $5 for a three dollar ride. OK its rush hour and raining and it takes a while to get to where we we’re going. He is not a metered taxi so its no use arguing. Merrick said later I should have given him $3 and simply stepped out of the cab. Maybe next time.
Chad proposes cooking food and I agree. He goes too get
So cold ... had to buy a scarf... hope its not a good synthetic...want alpaca!
chicken and veggies. We cook up a nice tasty stew. There is even enough for Paul who would have to go out by himself in a taxi.
Because Tony was 'mugged' (no bodily harm but all his pockets emptied) not even the men are going out by themselves at night. Tony did not wait for Merrick. Merrick, according to Tony, was chatting up a woman. This story has been corroborated.
The Casa Bambu is the best hostel I have ever stayed in. It is clean. A fine effort has been made to decorate the rooms, kitchen and sitting areas. The rules are clearly posted. Refrigerators with glass doors give each room its own shelf. There are plenty of pots and cooking utensils. I even cooked breakfast every day. The laundry is returned in small plastic boxes. There is a library of books and a library of DVD's. The outdoor seating is spacious and comfortable. It seems to be run by two women. Did not really get the whole story there. Suffice it to say: it is the absolute best hostel I have ever stayed at.
I try to walk to the old town. After a few blocks
Mitad del Mundo
Am I at the top of the world, at the centre or in the middle? Its 0' 0' 0'. And then it is said that this monument has been built in the wrong place. Who to believe?
I take a taxi to the Museo de Sucre. Approaching the entrance I see signs of construction work. Sure enough, the Museo de Sucre is closed for renovations. Regroup. The Jesuit church is open. After paying the 'jubilada'price of one dollar ( I am retired for all the entrance fees, everywhere) I enter a totally guilded interior. There are 50kg of gold leaf covering the inside decorations; reliefs, frames, columns, banisters, ceiling tiles, alter pieces and balcony railings. All the gold comes from Ecuador. Only one side chapel alter and a piece of balcony is much brighter. This is gold leaf from Germany that has been used to replace fire damage to the dry wood. A worker let a little water fall on an electrical unit. An eleven minute fire resulted. It took ten years to rectify the damage
The volunteer guide was very informed. I joined a small group of people and listened to all the interesting facts about La Iglisia de Compania. I spent almost an hour in the church because no photographs were allowed. I did buy some postcards.
The next place I visit is the Museo de la Ciudad. Extremely informative. Easy to get the
Equator Runs Thru It
it was animpressive site reached bylocal bus for sixty cents. The man in the seat beside me checked his change!
message. From the pictures and the artifacts. The most intriguing thing I notice is in a corner that pays tribute to Humbolt, a German who came to S.A. for scientific explorations and observations. The currrent off the coast of S.A is named after him.
In the museum can be found a sea trunk. The lid is open. As the lid stands open it can be seen that a headrest of a bed has been painted as a decoration. At the front and on top of the trunk can be seen a metal cot. When this cot is collapsed it fits into the trunk. It isa travelling bed used in the 1800. How heavy is it? Was one man made to carry it by himself? Did Humbolt himself sleep on the bed? There was no explanation about any of this. It is one of the more curious things I have seen.
Four religious orders imposed themselves on the city of Quito. The Jesuits, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, and Le Merced. Have not yet figured out what that is in English. Did visit their church and also the Franciscan one. On October 4th the animals come to the Franciscan
Lunch at the Middle of the World
Turned down the $15 Guinea Pig. Had one HUGE drumstick in delicious soup.
Church to be blessed. Missed that. This church is also undergoing massive restoration. The alter is obscured by a huge 'cloth' depicting what the actual alter looks like. Along the sides outside the pews are steel columns holding up the roof and scaffolding. When looking at what is still on view, a lot of restoration is necessary to make this church look as good as the gold guilded one.
In between time I visit a coffee shop. The coffee on offer comes in the form of hot water in a cup and coffee essence in a small pitcher. With a flaky cream pastry its not a bad tasting snack.
By 5:00 my ankle is ready to sit down and take a weight off. Home by taxi and into the perfect hostel for the last night.
In the morning Merrick comes as body guard while I get money out of a bank machine. By the time we get back to the hostel the others have already left for Terminal Terrestre. Not to worry. The kind woman at the hostel phones for a taxi and we are off. Taking a most convoluted drive, over hill and dale, under tunnels and
How not to Treat a Building
Across from the church plaza the old buildings are used for just about any type of commerce.
around big buildings we reach the terminal. Dragging oour lugages thru half the place we arrive at the meeting place. I did not bargain on carting around my bags. Ususally travel with one piece so that my hands are free as they would be if the truck were our means of travel…that for which we paid.
The truck has apparently landed. It is to catch up with us at Banos. Till then we are lugging packs, putting them in dirty compartments under the bus and having to do scouting duty so no one walks away with our stuff. Paul and I chain together our laptops with the wire lock I used in India.
We are on the bus for a six hour drive to Tena. The country side promises to be enchanting.
P.S. Every $5 $10 and $20 has to be checked. Counterfit money is all the rage here. The ridges on the coat of the person represented, a watermark of that persons face and a metallic line down the width of the billl are the signs to look for and ensure you have the real dough. Everyone checks the money;m the man sitting beside me in
Beneath the church shops fill the arcade type spaces.
the bus, the woman at the grocery counter, the cashier at the restaurant. I am not about to check all the bills I get out of the bank machine. Before I finish checking $300 someone will dash by and grab my loot. I keep my money in a safe at the hostel. The money I carry is in my brassiere. I have had a lot of hot twenties lately!
There are more photos below