Our group had a fabulous adventure yesterday in the historic center (also known as Old Town) of Quito! We started out at 9am, did tons of bus-ing, walking, sight-seeing, bag-protecting, photo-taking, and got home around 6:30pm. Long day, but well worth it! I feel super cultured now. Here’s how the day went:
I took the bus from Lumbisí (where I’m living) to Cumbaya (where USFQ is) to Rio Coca (bus station) to Old Town. Phew. Long bus rides = more people = more crowded buses = greater probability of being robbed. That’s just how it is here. The economy’s bad and people are broke, so some people resort to pick-pocketing and stealing. Actually, one of our girls almost got robbed! Some guy started unzipping her purse, but then some other guy started yelling at him and then the bus driver kicked the pick-pocketer off. So it’s real stuff, but there are nice and just people. Phew! Anyway, when we got to Old Town, there were tons of people marching for a mayoral campaign. I call them “las banderas verdes” because I don’t actually know the name of the party or who’s running, just that their flags are green. We didn’t participate with them, but I felt like a total rebel- like I was sticking it to the man, fighting the power, throwing it on the ground, etc.
Soon after this, we went to a bunch of Catholic churches because there was basically one on every block in Old Town. I’ve never been to a Catholic church before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But maaaaaannnnn were these churches beautiful! You could tell people spent a lot of time carving, sculpting, painting, embellishing, etc. I don’t remember the names of the churches or which photos they correspond to, but here are some of my favorite shots (please excuse any poor quality, blurry shot. Sadly, it’s a crappy camera to start with and I dropped my camera in the Mississippi River last May…):
Yeah, so everything was stunning because a lot of the woodwork was coated with gold. Yes, real gold. I’m a little iffy about how much gold they used to beautify the church because on one hand, it cost a ridiculous amount of money that could have been spent more generously on others, but it also shows how much these people cared that their place of worship was fit for a king. Well, now they’re historical landmarks tourists go to, so at least they’re pretty to look at? People also go there for mass too, of course.
Oh, I forgot to mention that earlier in the day, we bought homemade popsicles! So what happens a lot here is that people will prepare and cook food to sell on the streets (street vendors, duh. But these are like shadier…) and it usually tastes amazing. So here’s me and Alice eating our multi-flavored popsicle! The flavors are (from top to bottom) milk, blackberry, an Ecuadorian fruit that has no English translation, and another Ecuadorian fruit that has no English translation. They were so creamy and delicious though. I wanted to buy another one and should’ve, but didn’t… sigh…
Adorbs, right? We also got to see the Presidential Palace, Liberty Plaza, some other streets and plazas I don’t remember the names of. Here’s a view from the Presidential Palace looking over Liberty Plaza:
One of the coolest things I saw throughout the day was this installation. It’s based off the works of Gonzalo Endara Crow. He had a thing for flying trains and giant apples. He’s really legit though, so Google his art!
Ah, and I can’t forget to mention the wonderful lunch I had! I also forgot to mention that it started down-pouring like crazy midday, so we had to run for cover! It wasn’t too bad though, because we just went into a restaurant to eat. Here was my lunch, seco de chivo, or lamb stew. The lamb was so flavorful and tender, and the veggies and avocado were fresh and yummy. The fries were a little floppy, but they tasted good because I had them soak in the lamb stew. And I didn’t take a picture of it, but I ordered chocolate cake for dessert and it totally hit the spot! Ecuadorians don’t typically eat a lot of sweets, much less sweet chocolate, so I was very satisfied by the chocolate cake. Mmmmmm.
Well, that’s all, folks! I have my third day of classes at USFQ tomorrow! I’m currently registered for 7 classes right now, but want to drop down to 4. AHHH!!!! I’ll keep y’all posted on what I end up doing. Fingers crossed for keeping my painting class that I’ll start on Wednesday! 😀