Day 36: Quito Take Two

Tues. 18th September 2012

QuitoOur second view of Quito was at the more civilised time of 9:30am for a morning tour of Quito. As we are back on an organised tour all we had to do was turn up at the right place at the right time. Other decisions have already been made for us!

Quito has had to evolve around the natural features of the area and so the town is squeezed into the valley between the mountains/volcanoes and is about 8km wide and 50km long. To the west development is restricted by the volcano called Pichincha, which like a number of others is still active. Firstly we were driven through the busy streets of Quito to a statue which was originally meant to be south of the town, however due to the size of the population ”squatters” built homes on the mountain side further south as a necessity. After 10 years they can claim the land as their own.

Not a Weeping Angel, but the Virgin of Quito on El PanecilloThe statue of the Virgin of Quito on El Panecillo (a hill so called because the Spanish thought it looked like a bun) faces north and was meant to look over/ after the residents of Quito, but those south of the statue are supposed not to have her spiritual good luck. As we are back with Christian symbolism, the snake at her feet represents evil.

A walking tour of the historical centre shows the Spanish influence with the colonial features and the main plaza is surrounded by the most important buildings including the presidential palace and the town hall. Those who read our blog on Merida will see the similarity in layout and importance of this Plaza Grande.

The cathedral is quite plain in contrast to the La Compania de Jesus which was built by the Jesuits. As their followers are required to make donations to the faith they was very rich and it took over 160 years to build and decorate every single inch of the interior with carvings all covered in 22 carat gold as well as many paintings. Whilst we were there an Argentinian choir, who are touring Ecuador, sang a few songs and their voices were spectacular and accentuated by the acoustics of the building.

La Plaza GrandeAfter lunch, a siesta was called for ready for our 6:45am departure to The Galapagos – I can hardly wait as this is one of the highlights of the tour for me.

We visited a local restaurant for dinner serving local cuisine and they had the usual trio of musicians playing music. Tourism is only fifth the economic list for Ecuador (below oil, bananas,shrimps and flowers) and although the trio had the usual CDs for sale they have yet to master the art of waving a begging bowl under the noses of all the restaurant goers like they would in Cuba where tourism is first!

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2 Responses to Day 36: Quito Take Two

  1. Richard says:

    If you have a few days in Quito when you get back you might like the following:
    1. The museum on the equator. As you walk up the square spiral staircase you go from one hemisphere to another.
    2. Otovalo is a nice place to chill out for a few day. a short (2 hrs?) bus ride north.
    3. The train trip (LP will tell you where) that starts off at dawn in the freezing mountains and ends up on the tropical coast where you get a bus back. The USP is that, like everyone else, you sit on the roof of the train. The driver sounds the whistle when approaching the tunnels where its a good idea to sit down!

    Glad you’re enjoying it. Oxon will seem pretty dull when you get back!

  2. Dave says:

    Thanks, Richard. It is great to hear from you.

    Good suggestions – as with everywhere we have been, we wish we had more time.

    We did the museum on the equator – both the famous monument, and the smaller Init-Nan which covered both the native artefacts and some pseudo-science experiments around the equator (blog post will follow in a few days).

    We haven’t had the time to do either Otovalo (which we hear good things about) or the train trip which sounds quite fun.

    Instead we had a couple of days in Mindo in the cloud forest (or cloud-cuckoo land as Janet called it), which was really good, if a bit too eco-basic.

    We have started to enjoy Quito as we get to find our way round it – a shame as we leave tomorrow to head off for Lima!

    Dave (and herself!)

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