Sunday, January 04, 2015

South America Adventure - Part IX - Quito

We were back at the bus terminal and headed into the heart of Quito for our last couple nights. We'd offered to share a cab with Josh, but he had to figure out where he was going.  Turns out, his brother had gotten a room on the same block where we had booked ours. Too funny. This was our most expensive place, but probably the nicest, except for the club music that goes all night. That's what happens when you stay near Plaza Foch.

We headed out for Middle Eastern food but got sidetracked by offerings of poutine. Meg is from upstate NY, so....  The place was cozy and nice, and we had some excellent chocolate cake, too.

The next morning we had breakfast in our hotel, and I got directions on how to take the bus to the Carcelen station to catch a bus up to Otavalo, the market town. Meg's boots had broken, so we dropped them off at a shoe place to have the zippers replaced before heading out. Anyone know how to say zipper in Spanish?  Then we were off on our day trip. On the city bus, this guy hopped on to sell a compass/protractor, something every 4th grade needs. His onboard upside down demonstration on his notepad was pretty impressive.

We arrived in Otavalo, and I asked a lady for directions to the main marketplace. I don't think we were there on the biggest day, but it was still pretty substantial. We were ready to shop!

Quick lunch break, and we caught the opening ceremony of the World Cup. You totally can't tell in that photo, but we could barely tell that JLo was singing either.

Quick walk around the square, then back to shopping.

Meg drives a hard bargain.

Yep, those guys were catching the World Cup.

We came home with lots of goodies. I got blankets and sweaters and other little trinkets. Two hour bus ride back to Quito that cost us $2.

When we got back, we had email from Josh. We went to meet up with him and his people at a movie theater. I had looked up the location and asked the cab to take us there, but he totally didn't believe me when I said the name or told him where to go. He was clueless and I was right.  I am good with navigation.

We had a fun time with Josh and his brother and Jamie. We saw that new Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt action movie. I liked it alright. We took an unmarked cab back to Plaza Foch and tried to find some karaoke, but every place had minimum drink requirements.

We ended up at a dirty place with cheap, terrible shwarmas where a drunk guy kept hitting on Josh, but all in all, a fun night.

Our last day in Quito! Friday, the 13th.

We had breakfast, then packed up and checked out of our room. I had really wanted to see this art museum, so we hopped a bus and headed to the Bella Vista neighborhood of Quito.

We had to walk a bit which felt like a lot bit uphill. Wasn't sure we were in the right place, but I asked a gardener outside, and he told us we were on the right path to find La Capilla del Hombre and Guayasamin.

Really pretty neighborhood in the hills.

First stop, Capilla del Hombre, which houses many of Guayasamin's works.

No photos allowed, but I had to sneak a few. These faces are just so captivating.

He painted a lot about the struggle between the Spanish colonialists and the indigenous people, represented with the bull and the condor. 

Out of order, but a quick view from Guayasamin's house and terrace.

I just find his work so haunting. His periods of painting cover Sadness, Rage, and Tenderness.

There were no guided tours available in English, but one of the museum workers who spoke 'okay English' walked us around a bit.

Looking up through the top of the chapel.

I ended up buying a couple prints when we left - one is a face from below. Another is a representation of Quito, as seen from his house on the hill. 

Then we walked next door to tour the house where he lived in the last part of his life.

I loved this part of the day - probably my favorite thing in Quito.

Back to Mariscal, where we had delicious Middle Eastern food. The place was packed when we got there, but the owner found us a table and chatted with us for a bit. Eat at El Arabe.

We met up with Josh and gang afterward so we could head to Mitad del Mundo and see the Equator.

We had to take a bus all the way to the edge of the city, and once we got dropped off, it's like walking through dirt and dust to get to this major tourist site. Kinda funny. There's a whole complex of things to do, but we were running short on time. We first went up into this tower overlooking it all. 

There's a museum as you wind your way down the stairs, and some other tourist guys offered to take our photo. Yeah, they're not great photographers.

Josh found some kids who loved his hackey sack.

We had to leave soon after arrival, so Meg and I could get to the airport for our flight that night. Traffic in Quito is not a joke. We barely made it. We hopped a bus from Mitad del Mundo, but it didn't go exactly where we needed it to go (and it circled around and backtracked a bit, which made me nervous). We finally got south far enough into Quito, but we weren't near the center. We got off the bus and walked a bit, and it took awhile to find a cab. I'm glad there were 5 of us. Not that I felt totally unsafe, but Quito isn't the warmest looking place after dark.

We finally got a cab that would take all of us, and we got back to Plaza Foch and ran back to our hotel. Grabbed our luggage and hopped another cab to the old airport in the middle of the city (glad I didn't have to fly into that one!) to catch the shuttle out to the new airport. We showed up literally 2 minutes before the last bus of the night left. I had to dig quickly for our return tickets, and they shoved us on the bus and took off. If our cab driver had dropped us off any further down the entrance, we wouldn't have made it. Whew.

Made it to the airport in plenty of time, and the guy checking us in for the flight was really nice and gave us some better seats. Overnight flights aren't fun, and I'll take anything I can get. Short flight to Houston, zombies into Phoenix, and we made it to Meg's for laundry and a nap. I purposefully gave myself a long layover in Phoenix, so I could get Bahama Bucks. We'd come from the cold and were sweating like crazy in layers when we got back to Phoenix, but this shaved ice made it a little better. Got to see Holly and Brandon, then off to the airport again for a flight home to SLC. Fantastic trip! I had a great time.

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