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Published: January 24th 2013
Virgin of Quito Statue
This statue is located on Panecillo Hill high above Quito. The aluminum statue is unusual because the Virgin has wings. It was made in Europe.
When we thought this amazing trip couldn't get any better, it did. We have decided that Ecuador is our favorite of the Andean countries visited on this trip. The people are friendly and helpful. The country accepts U.S. currency, requires no visa, and uses 110 voltage. All of these little things made our life easy.
Quito is located in a large valley surrounded by volcanoes. The weather is temperate year round. The temperature hasn't dropped below 40 degrees F in fifty years. Most people do not have heat or air conditioning in their homes. We weren't sure what to expect since this is Ecuador's summer season. The mornings have been cool (50's) and afternoons warmer (high 60's to low 70's.) The natives tell us that you can experience all four seasons every day in Ecuador. Short showers are common in the afternoons. Even though Ecuador is about 10,000 ft. above sea level, the altitude has not bothered us. We really noticed it in La Paz but have had no problems here.
We stayed in the Traveler's Inn in Mariscal (New Town) when we first arrived because they had nice tours. Then, we moved to the Cathedral
One of the 7 Crosses
The street of Garcia Moreno is known as the Street of the Seven Crosses. Each cross marks an important religious site.
Hotel which was in the center of Quito's Old Town. Both hotels were very reasonable and served a nice breakfast. We enjoyed exploring Quito by riding the Hop On, Hop Off Bus and by just walking. We took an all day train trip from Quito to El Boliche. We enjoyed seeing the countryside, the farms, animals, and volcanoes. The train is really just a tourist attraction. It isn't used that much by locals. We also took a day trip to Otavalo, the largest Indian market in South America. It covered 11 blocks and had everything that you can think of for sale, including a live/dead animal market. I loved the shopping and found some neat souvenirs. I ended up having a bad fall when I caught by foot in a sidewalk crack. I sprained by ankle and have had a hard time walking. This meant that we had to skip some of our planned stops. I insisted that the driver stop in Cotacachi so I could buy a few leather products. Walt took photos for me at the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) Monument. I could see it from the car but couldn't walk the 300 meters to
La Compania de Jesus Church
This church has the prettiest interior of any church that I have ever seen!
Walt's favorite activity has been to sit in the Grand Plaza (Plaza de la Independencia) and people watch. I met him there one day and he told me about seeing a dog jump in one of the fountains for a swim. A moment or two later, an Indian lady came up with a small child. They each filled their water bottles from the fountain. The Presidential Palace is opposite the plaza. Something interesting is always going on there. Military bands frequently play national anthems for visiting dignitaries. On several days, we have seen political protests with speeches, songs, posters. Usually, we have no idea what they are protesting. The Tourist Police are everywhere and visible. We called on them for help one time when two rude drunk guys would not leave us alone. They wanted Walt's Cuban cigar. The police quickly escorted them out of the Plaza.
Walt is an avid newspaper fan and reads several a day. On this trip, the only English language newspapers that he found were at high end hotels in Quito. This has been our first trip to not have either BBC or CNN news. That was a blessing in disguise since
The Otavalo Indian women wore black skirts with a slit over ivory slips, white embroidered blouses, colorful sashes, black or beige ponchos, and black head scarves.
we missed "Obama's Coronation." Walt is in withdrawal from no Fox News!
The street running by the Presidential Palace and the Plaza is called the Street of Seven Crosses. Large stone crosses mark important religious sites. I enjoyed going in some of the city's churches. All of them have beautiful main altars with fresh flowers, statues, carved gilded wood, murals, large paintings, etc. I will have to say that the most magnificent church interior belonged to the La Compania de Jesus Church. Seven tons of gold were used to gild the walls, ceilings, and altars, It took 163 years to build and was started in 1605. I was not allowed to take photos inside the church. The exterior is stone with wonderful detail work. Three artists were working inside the church when I was there. The wooden carved pews and confessional boxes were very impressive. Many of the people in Ecuador consider this their most beautiful church.
We have enjoyed trying traditional Ecuadorian food and drinks. At meals, a glass of fresh juice is served (papaya, lemonade, pineapple, strawberry-banana, tree tomato, orange, etc.) Bread is only served with breakfast. The Almuerzo (set lunch $2-3.50) usually consists of soup,
The Cathedral of Quito
Interesting fact about this church: In 1877 on Good Friday during mass, the Bishop of Quito, was poisoned with strychnine dissolved in the communion wine .
salad of tomato-peppers-lettuce, rice, beans or potatoes, chicken-fish-beef, and sliced fruit for dessert. We have tried all different kinds of empanadas and really liked them. Our favorite drink has been canelazo: a warm, spiced juice of the naranjila (orange type fruit) mixed together with cinnamon and rum. It is served in a glass rimmed with sugar.
Ecuador was truly a pleasant surprise!
Everette & Walt
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