Thursday, January 13, 2011


Quito grew on us. First impression was that it was dirty, ugly and sketchy. However, with a little exploration and excursions into other neighborhoods, we soon changed our mind. The Old Town was loads of fun to walk around, filled with plazas and churches. Following up on a story we had learned about in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book The General in His Labyrinth, we visited the museum of Manuela Saenz, the lover and two-time savior of Bolivar the Liberator. From there we chose Compañia as our requisite church and were not let down by the massive amounts of gold covering the interior.

Next site was the teleférico, Quito’s own version of the Medellin gondola advertised on The Wandering Paisa business card. However, this teleférico has a completely different vibe. It’s definitely a tourist attraction as evidenced by the high price, lack of local riders, and sluggishness. Fortunately, the immense height attained at the top makes it entirely worthwhile. We initially disembarked into cloud cover but they soon cleared and while meandering up the slope a ways further we were presented with a series of breathtaking views of the city below us.

No trip to Ecuador would be complete without visiting the Equator, so Miles and I hopped a bus to “The Middle of the Earth.” The site was incredibly tacky and tourist-oriented but we made the most of it, balancing an egg on a nail and checking that we really did weigh about 10lbs less. Then we visited a nearby Incan ruin, my first yet. However, even without having seen the more impressive ruins in Peru, I couldn’t help but think that the pink rocks looked more like a lovely garden wall than the foundations of an Incan prison . . .

On our final day we visited the Chapel of Humanity, a museum site designed by and filled with the works of Guayasamin, Ecuador’s most prominent artist. In this chapel, Guayasamin presents the viewer with a social commentary via paintings of varying states of humanity. They are largely quite gripping and intense, often politically motivated, and sometimes gentle and tender. Beautiful and moving, the museum was the perfect finale for our Quito visit.

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