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Friday, March 22, 2013

Quito, Ecuador, Day One (Friday)

This morning I ate my breakfast in a dungeon.

It was one of the loveliest dungeons that I've ever eaten breakfast in, and that's saying something.

Soon after, I stepped outside of the circa 1534 former conquistador's villa turned *not* Holiday Inn, I walked into a new old world. Metal doors that slid up from the edge of the narrow sidewalks to reveal little concrete enclaves where local people sold their wares.

The sidewalks were impossibly narrow, and were speckled with more women, some with babies strapped to their backs, selling all manner of everything- cactus pears, mangoes, lotto tickets, scarves, and limes. There was a mad woman, ranting and shaking her arms at us, pacing and muttering. The street was an equal access oppurtunity to cars, taxis, motercycles, hundreds of pedestrians, and the occasional wandering dog. There were cathedrals, museums, men shining shoes, gigantic wooden doors, women in stillettoes. And all in the first few blocks outside our hotel.

We took a short walk and boarded a bus for a winding, curb-jumping drive up to the teleferrico, a system of cable cars designed to take us 8,000 feet up into the Andes.


I was immediately struck by how different the air felt- so fresh, and green, and humid. Not at all like the frozen home I'd left behind. Green sprung up from every crack in the pavement. Glorious, wonderful green.


After a steep climb in the cable car, we disembarked high in the Andes.


We began to hike around on the many pathways.



Everything smelled so green. (Have I mentioned that I love that its GREEN here?)

There was a beautiful church, every window a celebration in colored glass.

Brian had brought his hand held GPS, and we skulked around looking for a geocache that was nearby, but when we did the math of "nearby as in- down hill all the way there, and then pretty much straight uphill to get back" we decided that the hike was marvelous enough without finding the cache. We struggled back, sometimes nearly straight uphill, gasping in the high altitude air. It was worth every gasp.

Soon enough, it was time to take the ride back down, down, down.

Past the cows grazing below. (affectionately named "Andy")


Back "down" to 10,000 feet above sea level.

I sat with my eyes glued to the bus window and found much to entice me.

There are traffic police all over this part of the city, helping people to navigate the streets whether in taxi, car, motercycle, or on foot.

We spent the afternoon wandering around the area surrounding our hotel. So much history packed into every single block that I found it overwhelming, so I decided to focus on the doors.





It is impossible to describe what it is to wake up on a Friday morning in Quito, Ecuador.

To find myself surrounded by solid wood, tiled floors, ancient pillars, colored glass windows.

To be the minority- to be the one who is speaking in a foreign tongue.

To wonder about the little boy in the square- the one wearing two pairs of tattered pants, blackened by shoe polish, relentlessly imploring Brian to shine his shoes. To wonder about the mad woman and her waving arms. To wonder what its like to spend a day trying to sell three bags of limes with a toddler strapped to my back.

And then to wonder what tomorrow will bring.



janice said...

You are blogging from Quito!! Oh I love it! So articulate and such great photos. Now I must see if I have any journals and photos from when I was there.

brenda said...

Thank you, thank you, for being my eyes into this window of another world. Please keep this travelogue coming. I, too, have a penchant for doors; beautifully constructed, weather & time worn doors. Maybe, a few days in when you're feeling a little bolder, faces?

Karla said...

If that's only day 1, I can't imagine how colorful and green and FULL the next many days will be!!

bygeorge! said...

Thank you
for this glimpse of your journey.

rob said...


joyce said...

I am dying to write about day 2, but for some unknown reason my iPad refuses to connect to the Internet here in Banos. I am meanwhile in a valley that smells like the earth, a volcano to my right, anticipating a day at the zoo, a museum, and more faces to study. The faces are difficult to photograph!!