Our Second Week at 10,000 Feet (or Quito II)
Our second week in Quito was dogged by rain. We even stayed indoors most of Sunday to catch up on bills, blogs and laundry. In spite of formidable weather, we managed to take one very long daytrip and to see several museums in the city.
Museums—Mystical and Secular
Visits to the museums in El Centro (the old city) included lots of religious art and relics. Our favorite of the convents was the church and convent of Santo Domingo. Great displays, a terrific guide who spoke English for Paul and a beautiful church made it special. We enjoyed the beautiful Moorish architecture and the art inthe Convent of San Augustin, but the staff were not as friendly as Santo Domingo. We saw the gilded lily at the Church of the Jesuits, the domes of green and gold are in the picture above. Although our guidebook stated that there are free guided tours in English, it was the most expensive of the churches we visited ($5 pp), there were no guides and a warning not to take pictures. I may have cheated on that one!. We also visited the Museo Casa de Sucre, which delighted us. The tour was in Spanish, but it was vital to understand the house and the role that the Mariscal of Sucre played in the war of independence, fighting with Simon Bolivar and freeing Ecuador from Spanish rule. The Museum of Colonial Art and the Museum of the City seemed very similar to us, a mix of religious art and colonial history. If you can only do one, visit the Museum of the City. We stopped for lunch on La Ronda, a beautiful, historic street and delighted in the traditional Locro de Papa, potato and cheese soup—perfect for a chilly, rainy day.
On another day, we visited the National Museum of Ecuador part of the CCE, which explores the history and the cultures of Ecuador. It was interesting, some of the displays clever, but we both felt it did not provide a lot of depth of information about the colonial history. The same building houses the CCE Museum which had extensive temporary exhibitions of contemporary artists Estuardo Maldonate and a lesser known surrealism artist Onate, as well as a cultural exhibit describing Ecuardorian native cultures.
Day Tripping—Vocanoes in the Mist
Our longest day trip, 12 hours including amost 8 hours of driving time, was to see Cotopaxi Volcano and Quilotoa Crater lake. If we had been able to see Cotopaxi, the tallest peak in Ecuador, we may not have come away feeling jaded. The lake was beautiful, but without the sun it appeared to be green, not the brilliant blue of the pictures I had seen. The guide was certainly adequate, but I think the dreary day dampened her spirits as well. As soon as I met her that morning, she said “It’s going to be a long day!” The drive in the mists was beautiful, showing off the stunning green of the “breadbasket” of Ecuador. At one point, we passed a funeral procession on foot in the rain. The guide was right—it was a very long day, too much time on a bus. At least the bus dropped us off near a great place for dinner and a drink!
While in Quito, we experienced a wide range of dining experiences! Check out the chicken foot in my soup at lunch one day! That was a first. Although we never visited the McDonalds or KFC, they were very popular. Check out the kiddy play area at KFC and the outdoor dessert kiosk at McDonalds, right across the street from each other. Our favorite restaurant, where we ate twice including our last night, was La Briciola. Garlic bread, beautifully prepared salads, fish and risotto, completed by limoncello.
We enjoyed Quito, but were ready to get out of the city to head to the Galapagos for two weeks. More vagabond ventures to come in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!