Churches and the Middle of the World
Jul 23, 2012
Up early again and met our tour group – we are now 33... A bunch of folks from Ploand, some from DC, some more from California. Juan Carlos – our tour manager, went over some of the stuff we were going to do, and then the expectations.
We boarded the bus and headed to downtown Quito. Streets just as narrow as in Peru. We ended up in the center square and visited the outside of the Quito cathedral – interesting in that the gargoyles are all animals – turtles, bats, anteaters... Lots of vendors as well but not very pushy.
Being a churchy kind of day we then went to the church of St. Dominic. Unlike every church we visited so far we were allowed to take pictures. Marvelous and ornate interior1 Then off to the church of St. Francis = no photos, but just as ornate.
Then we headed off to the government square. On Mondays they have a big ceremony celebrating the country – a sort of changing of the guard, The place was packed with people – school kids, tourists, military protesters (they want more pension) and sundry others.
The ceremony started with military dressed as lancers parading out and occupying spots along the front of the building. Then a band marched out. Then some guys on horses. Then more lancers... Then finally the Vice President appeared. He's in a wheelchair as a result of being shot in a robbery. He's currently one of the strongest advocates for the handicapped - and is more popular than the president.
The national anthem was sung with gusto by all present, the VP waved, the military marched off and we left. It was quite exciting actually. One group of soldiers carried a skull as a banner!
We drove around Quito a bit and ended up at... the center of the world. This is the place where French scientists determined the equator and used the position to test Newton's theory that the world was not a perfect sphere. There was an elaborate monument to the event and a yellow line marking the equator. The place wqas crowded with shops and restaurants as well. Not too many people there. Lots of pictures. We had a great lunch!
Then we headed off to our next destination along roads through the Andes that curved back and forth on each other in a most remarkable way. We stopped at the “Grand Canyon of Ecuador” for some very windy pictures. Then off again. Through a small town where the tradition this time of year is to kill a pig and hang it in the shop. Customers come in and ask for specific pieces...
We finally came to our destination – a lodge on a lake under a volcano. We had a nice lodge that overlooked a lake. Marina, miniatures golf, petting zoo, and lots of other things. Very pretty place. We went to a dinner where we were presented with male and female drinks in gourds – the same stuff but hats and necklaces... When we returned to our lodge they had started a fire in the fireplace. Toasty!
I went back to the lodge – the only place with an internet connection and tried to grade web classes, but the computer kept freezing and a it was really tough. The lounge closed at 9:00 but they let me stay until 11:00 trying to work things out. I finally headed off about that time, stoked the fire, and off to bed.
Tomorrow we're off to a thermal spa!