Galapagos Day 11, Quito Day Three

Mostly overcast, yet wonderfully textured clouds greet us this morning.  Views from the hotel restaurant are colorful as well as the abstract art on the wall outside our room.

Today is relaxed and unplanned for the most part.  We head outside and go in search of the Presidential Palace, having chosen to stay in the Historic part of the city.  We’re told the Presidential Palace is only a few blocks away, so off we go!

Random Vendors setting up for their day in hopes of bringing home enough money for another days food and shelter.  Others without the means to set up a vending stand, just kneel in the streets in hopes that those more fortunate will take pity on them and leave them a few sparse coins.

Unique outdoor covered shopping malls house vendors trying to make a living.  Soon we come across the Presidential Palace and courtyard.  Statues and Presidential Facades fill our vision as we tour the courtyard.  Off to one corner is a museum and an announcement of an Art Exhibition by Yoko Ono.  Let’s go in and check it out.

Inside, we are singularly unimpressed as we come across the artwork.  A wall of Post-It notes has us scratching our heads as to how this is art.  Another display, which I chose not to publish photos of, depicted photographs of Yoko’s naked body parts in graphic detail.  I shouldn’t judge, but it just wasn’t my opinion of art.  The building was old and elaborately built with impressive architecture though.

Back outside, we found a vendor lady displaying her silk scarves and our wallets became a wee bit emptier) Remember, even though they use US Currency here, there is a definite 3rd World Economy in place.  Then another cathedral, something that is everywhere in South America in plentiful supply, was just across the street, so it was time to go inside another one.

Back on the streets again, more Vendors hoping to fill their wallets for the day display their wares, hoping for a small sale here and there.  Unique Police vehicles abound around the square and a friendly officer even insists on posing for a photo.

Homeless vagrants sit and watch us, likely hoping to take advantage of unwary tourists, but this is not our first rodeo.  Others sleep with bags of their possessions on the steep streets, perhaps just taking a short nap before working his way to his next location.  A lady gets her bags of Chicharrones ready to sell!  Yum!

More colorful street scenes expose themselves to us and the absence of litter amazes us again.  Food stalls , vendors and small stores greet us.  One display of “Tree Tomatoes” catches my cameras eye.  This delectable fruit is used to make a very unique and tasty salsa that is served here.  I even went so far as to try and locate these plants once I arrived back home to no avail.  Professional nurseries even told me that getting the seeds out of South America is impossible.  (So I guess that bag of seeds that arrived in a pouch of my suitcase is really not there?)  I have, with even more research, discovered that the fruit here at home is called a Tarmarillo (or Tamarillo) and can be found but is very expensive!  Just the kind of thing I like to grow in my gardens!

Steep streets, Churches, Cathedrals, a Lady with all her possessions on her back, Food Displays, Colorful Banners and a local Bar assuage our senses.  Wait, did I say Bar?  LOL, it IS hot.  We ARE tired.  A cold brew can’t hurt, so we sit for a few, watching soccer on the local bar TV.  Did I mention that the World Cup Games coincided with our trip?  It’s fun to watch the intensity with which South Americans participate in spectating the game of soccer!

We make it back to our hotel, tired, but ready for the next thing to see here in a foreign and exotic country!  Yesterday, on the way back from Mindo, we spotted a Gondola up a mountain called the “Teleferico” and it disappeared into the clouds.  Of course our reaction was, “We gotta check that out!”  So we decided that with the heavy clouds this morning that we would attempt it for a sunset trip this afternoon.  So we wait patiently for a taxi to pick us up in our spacious hotel lobby.  Back into the streets of Quito, tangles of wire on telephone poles and even some colorful artwork on the walls along the streets.

We arrive at the Teleferico, pay our fares (Something like $3 per person, everything down here is quite inexpensive) and we ride up the mountain.  We never gave a thought about the altitude until we arrived at the top and did the math.  4050 meters translates to approximately 13,300 feet!  We were glad we brought sweatshirts with us.  Lucky for us, we brought them because it was getting close to sunset and Quito is at 9000 feet, so we thought they might be useful.  Little did we know!

The sights from the top were amazing.  At times, we were socked in with clouds and then it would clear and give us fantastic views of the city below.  I even found a little church out on a trail at the top of the mountain.  Astounding where they build churches here!

A side trail near the church led across a deep ravine, probably 20-30 feet deep.  I had to study the old worn out, rotted bridge that crossed it, and after determining that it was safe enough, I went across to the other side for a couple fun views.

Back at the top of the Teleferico, we found a restaurant with hot beverages and a bite to eat was the perfect respite to wait out the socked in clouds and warm up a bit.  Then back outside, as the clouds swirled around us, the impending sunset turned the clouds into fiery wisps of cool moisture as we gazed upon the city below, bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun.

Ok, we’re happy and satiated with the views.  A relaxing ride down the Teleferico, 18 minutes later we step out at the bottom.  Now to find a ride back into the city.  It just so happens that taxis hang out here for wayward tourists just like us.  Happily chatting with our driver, us in English and him in Spanish, we pull out our technology again and those nifty translation apps on our phones do their work again!

Traveling by more monuments and statues in the middle of traffic circles, dusk descends on us.  A family, living in what appears to be a garage with a roll up door, seems to be deeply engrossed in their daily lives, all 10 of them.  We recognize where we are and tell our driver to let us out because in our conversations with him, his day was done also and he wanted to go home to his family.  Traffic would have taken him another half hour to take us the final 3-4 blocks and we were willing to walk it

Back to the hotel, we refresh for a short bit and head back to the street of restaurants to find a second story open air restaurant with perfect local charm.  I order the Guinea Pig.  Yes, you heard me right.  I first had it in Peru several years ago and it was delicious.  Yes, that cute little bunny like animal that our children had as pets, is a delicious delicacy in South America.  And of course I finish the evening with a few more after dark photos.

Weary, yet quite happy, I turn in for the night.

See you again in the morning!