Sunday evening, I traveled to Quito with Reyna’s youngest son, Juan Pablo. I really do enjoy Reyna’s children a lot. They’re very close, very fun, they have cute babies. And it doesn’t hurt that three out of four of them live in Quito, meaning that when I have to spend a night in that city (three more times- all because of flying in and out of Quito- before I leave in April), I have places to stay. With bus fare costing a mere $4 and lodging costs at zilch, after how much I found myself enjoying the city of Quito, I may even return for voluntary visits.
I was done registering my visa by 9:30 Monday morning, so I grabbed a map of Quito from a Quito tourism office conveniently located across the street from the Dirección General de Extranjería, then took off. Five minutes on a trolebus, and I was in the beautiful historic district.
First, I stopped into La Basilica, the tallest church tower in South America! I was by myself at this point, and enjoyed the inside and outside most thoroughly. However, when I told Juan Pablo about my visit, he asked if I had gone up into the towers for a view of the city. Whaaaaaaaaaat? Definitely doing that on my next trip.
After La Basílica, I tried to use my map to head to another recommended destination, but got a little lost… heh heh, so unlike me! I ended up on a street of nothing but shoe stores. Ecuador does this a lot with shops. In Riobamba, we have 2 blocks of nothing but auto supply shops, 1 block of nothing but photo development shops. It doesn´t really make any sense to me, but I needed (that might not be the right word) a new pair of shoes, so I popped into a few, and, by a few, I mean about six. Why that many? Because none of them had shoes my size! My feet are big for the US, gargantuan for Ecuador. When I told one of the managers what size I was looking for, he actually said “Sacra Maria!” (Holy Mary!) Thanks… After getting tired of seeing cute shoes 3 sizes too small, I found my way back to the historic sights.
After visiting the lovely San Augustin church, I started taking some pictures from Plaza Grande area, outside the Presidential Palace. Then, a strange man approached me and asked if I spoke English. When things like this happen in Ecuador, my first thought is to clutch my purse a little tighter and be very aware of what’s happening around me. However, this guy was not part of a robbing crew. He had lived in New York for eight years and felt like helping out a foreigner. He pointed me toward a building nearby where I could take the stairs to the roof and shoot better pictures!
After my roof excursion, I met up again with Juan Pablo. (Oh, I have a phone that I can use in Ecuador now- soo helpful.) We went out to lunch with his sister-in-law, who was just delightful. Then, he assisted me in fulfilling my desire to do Quito like a tourist.
Holy smokes- La Compañia was absolutely stunning. Juan Pablo and I got a tour (in English- yes!), which was very interesting. It is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in South America. The attention to detail, the gold interior, and the fascinating design make this place so worth a stop. Photography is prohibited, so I found a picture of the interior online:
Our last stop for the day was at the Panecillo, Quito’s 45 meter-tall aluminum Virgin Mary. I love that she has wings, that she’s stepping on a snake, and that she is probably the only woman in Ecuador with feet bigger than mine.
I had a lovely day touring the city of Quito. I spent the evening with Reyna’s three sons who live in Quito, their wives, their children, and a family friend, all in Juan Pablo’s little living room. We ate animal crackers and karaoke’d. You can imagine how huge the English selection was… I sang “Killing Me Softly,” “Let it Be,” and “It Must Have Been Love” (as a joke). I was pleasantly surprised to find Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind” among the scant assortment of English songs. Even in a place as pleasant as Quito, I enjoy reminders of home, sweet home.