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January 24th 2013
Published: January 24th 2013
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Virgin of Quito StatueVirgin of Quito StatueVirgin 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.
Hi Everybody!

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 CrossesOne of the 7 CrossesOne 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 ChurchLa Compania de Jesus ChurchLa Compania de Jesus Church

This church has the prettiest interior of any church that I have ever seen!
it.

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
Otavalo NativeOtavalo NativeOtavalo Native

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 QuitoThe Cathedral of QuitoThe 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!

Take care,

Everette & Walt


Additional photos below
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Middle of the World MonumentMiddle of the World Monument
Middle of the World Monument

(Mitad del Mundo) This monument marks the highest pooint along the equator.
Snow Capped VolcanoSnow Capped Volcano
Snow Capped Volcano

It is hard to believe that glaciers are on top of this volcano at the equator.
Presidential Palace TourPresidential Palace Tour
Presidential Palace Tour

I met this nice lady, Mia, from Sweden, when I did the Palace tour. She lives 3 months a year in Colombia. I also met 2 evangelists on the tour, one from Ecuador and one from Colombia.
The President's Office  in the Presidential PalaceThe President's Office  in the Presidential Palace
The President's Office in the Presidential Palace

I took a tour of the Palace and found it to be beautiful and well kept.
Plaza de la IndependenciaPlaza de la Independencia
Plaza de la Independencia

This is also called the Grand Plaza.
ProtestProtest
Protest

We saw several of these political protests --all in front of the Presidential Palace.
Metropolitan Cultural CenterMetropolitan Cultural Center
Metropolitan Cultural Center

This is right beside the Presidential Palace. I saw an interesting photography display of giant posters. It covered many aspects of life in Quito.
National Basilica - QuitoNational Basilica - Quito
National Basilica - Quito

This spectacular neo-Gothic church is still not finished. It has been worked on for 100 years. The people have a legend that if it is ever finished, there will be a catastrophe.
Train TripTrain Trip
Train Trip

We loved taking the train Quito to El Boliche. We enjoyed the companionship of the other passengers and our nice guide.
Beautiful Scenery in the CountrysideBeautiful Scenery in the Countryside
Beautiful Scenery in the Countryside

On our train ride, we traveled through s huge valley surrounded by giant volcanic mountains. We saw many crops growing and some being harvested. We passed several dairy farms and saw other types of livestock.
Vendor at the El Boliche StationVendor at the El Boliche Station
Vendor at the El Boliche Station

We stopped at this train station for lunch.
Beautiful DoorsBeautiful Doors
Beautiful Doors

I probably took 50 pictures of tall carved doors. Many were in great shape.
Blue AgaveBlue Agave
Blue Agave

This plant borders many of the highways. You can sometimes see where some of the leaves have been harvested with a machete. The plant is used to make tequilla, aloe vera, shampoo, twine, rope, and many more things.
Harley Shop in QuitoHarley Shop in Quito
Harley Shop in Quito

Walt couldn't believe that this shop had to pay 110% tariff on all Harley products brought into Ecuador. He bought a souvenir but not what he really wanted.
Monastery of San FrancisoMonastery of San Franciso
Monastery of San Franciso

This is the oldest church in Quito and the city's largest colonial structure.


24th January 2013

Everette, so glad I get to travel the world and you and Walt get to foot the bill for me. I love seeing your pictures and reading about all the places you see. Wonderful trip for all of us who still sit at home. Have fun for all of us!!
26th January 2013

Blogs
Still enjoying blogs and reminders. Jean

Tot: 3.645s; Tpl: 0.065s; cc: 11; qc: 50; dbt: 0.0422s; 3; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb