Monday, February 17
Once again, I woke up in my comfortable bottom-bunk in my six-bed dorm room with no plans. Heaven, after the madness of Brazil! I know I’ll get antsy soon, though.
After a breakfast of fresh fruit and bread at the hostel bar, I noticed a hand-written advertisement on a blackboard for a free walking tour of Quito’s gorgeous Old Town, el Centro Historico. Even though I’ve been down here a couple times before, I thought it would be a good idea to get oriented by foot and learn some new historical details.
|The Basilica, which is visible from my hostel's rooftop terrace -- along with a panoramic view of the city and mountains.|
|The Basilica's only deviation from typical Gothic style is its replacement of gargoyles with native Ecuadorian fauna.|
|There were even Galapagos giant tortoises!|
|We arrived to the main square just in time to see President Rafael Correa waving from his balcony.|
|This statue presides over the four historic buildings in Old Town's main square.|
|The Andean condor represents freedom for Gran Colombia, the original country which encompassed Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. I hope I get to see one of these endangered birds in the wild.|
|The angry lion represents the Spanish empire, and the broken ship and cross behind him represent colonization and the Catholic church.|
|I had de ja vu from eating lunch in this very room a few months ago with the GAIAS study abroad group! It feels very different to come upon the place alone.|
|An Ecuadorian flag between the towers of the Basilica|
|One of the seven crosses on Calle de las Cruces.|
|An elegant courtyard visible from a public rooftop.|
|We explored the dark, narrow, winding tunnels under this church where a strange artisan crafts market is now held.|
After the tour, we all decided to grab $2.00 lunches at Almuerzo Como en Casa (Lunch Like at Home), the restaurant our tour guide had recommended. Then, three chill British guys from the tour and I headed out to play frisbee (YEEEE) at a park. My two-person team smoked theirs, and the guys were all naturals at defense. We asked the trash-collector lady to please leave the foam cups we were using to mark the end-zones, and almost ran over a businessman in a suit who had inadvertently cut across our field. We got lots of smiles and funny looks from Ecuadorians who had never seen a game of ultimate. It was so much fun!!!