Monday, March 29, 2010

Quito, Ecuador

We departed Costa Rica for Quito, Ecuador.  The man at the check in counter said the flight was oversold, so we got stuck in business class.  Boo hoo!

We landed at Quito and immediately started breathing hard, as the elevation here is over 9,000 feet, or about 3,000 meters.  Tana had found us a nice rental house in the old town which was great, especially the rooftop deck.

We spent our days walking around the amazing collection of buildings in the old town section, justifiably granted status as a world heritage site.  The building were fascinating, many many old churches originally built in the 1600s.  Earthquakes have wrecked the originals, but many now date from the late 1700s.

We climbed the towers of the massive Basilica del Voto National (twice) which did not go unnoticed by our legs and lungs.  The view from up there was fantastic, and the less than substantial stairs and ladders gave a bit of an edge to the affair.

On Palm Sunday the churches were packed, the streets to the old town were closed to traffic, and the city had quite a festive air to it.  While walking back towards the house we came across a little performance happening in a courtyard, so we popped in for some local music and dancing, both quite good.  The dancers each had a ribbon connected to a central pole, and as they danced around each other the ribbons became woven together around the pole, first loosely and then tightly  They danced some more and the ribbons miraculously became unwound.

Feeling that 3000 meters was not high enough, we took the gondola up to 4100 meters.  Great view, thin air.  On the way down stopped at the local amusement park for a few rides and rounds of bumper cars.

We like Quito and are looking forward to our return.  Next stop, Ecuadoran cloud forest.

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