La Virgen de Quito
Hola amigos! Well, I made it. Colette valiantly fetched me from mi casa at 4:30 am on Tuesday in time to drop me off at the famed Van Galder shuttle to O´Hare with plenty of time to spare. Happily, the flights from Chicago to Miami and from Miami to Quito were on time and I arrived here in Ecuador right on time and without incident. My taxi driver was quite chatty (and amazingly, I understood most of what he was saying) so I got a mini-tour of the city of Quito while en route to my hostel…somewhat oddly named the Chicago Hostel. So far so good.
Plaza de la Independencia
On Wednesday I planned to take it easy as I´m just getting over a cold and wanted to be sure that the altitude here in Quito wouldn´t affect me too badly. I´m staying in a section of town that is near the “Old City” where Quito started several hundred years ago. The Old City is packed with cobblestone streets and lots of old colonial style buildings. I made it as far as the main square…Plaza de Independencia before I realized that yes, on my very first day in South America, I had been pickpocketed. This I cannot recommend.
Don´t despair my dears…the only thing los ladrones got that was of any real import is my ATM card but fortunately I had several hundred dollars stashed elsewhere and here in Ecuador where my single room costs $9 per night and a three course lunch costs $2, a couple of hundred dollars goes a long way. As it turns out, I found out that it is really quite simple to call the States from Ecuador and not too expensive…so I´ve chocked up the PP incident to stupidity on my part and a rather pronounced educational experience.
Wednesday afternoon was spent in calling the States and canceling/reordering cards and by the time I was finished with that task I determined it was time for a nap and that starting fresh on Thursday was the way to go. On Thursday, I ventured out again into the Old City though this time with much more caution and a hand on the zipper of my bag at all times. My first stop was El Museo de la Ciudad (Museum of the City) which is an interesting historical museum set in a restored 16th century hospital. They have various displays representing the city of Quito at various points in history…from pre-hispanic times through the 19th century. It doesn´t take too long and is pretty interesting. At the end of the museum is a very beautiful courtyard and cafe where I had the best cup of coffee I have had since arriving here in Quito. A picture of the courtyard is below.
The courtyard of El Museo de la Ciudad
Being an extremely Catholic country…Ecuador appears to be quite enamored with virgins. As it happens, the city of Quito actually has its very own virgin…or rather a statue of her that overlooks the city. The picture at the top of the post is, of course, of La Virgen de Quito as seen from the city below. It´s possible to take a taxi up to the statue for great views of the city but some Swedish girls I met recommended taking the Teleferico (cable car) to the top of a different mountain instead for better views. I planned to do this today but the clouds have been rolling in at a rather brisk pace so I´m not sure how good the views will be. It´s currently the beginning of rainy season so most outdoor sightseeing must be complete by about 1 pm or you will get soaked in the storms and downpours.
Tomorrow I intend to take a bus to the outlying village of Otavalo where one of South America´s most important markets takes place. Watch for some pictures from that coming soon. On Sunday I head to the coast in the city of Manta where I will begin 4 weeks of one-on-one Spanish study. That´s all for now…
La Plaza de San Francisco
Tags: 8 - Ecuador, Ecuador, Quito