I could have gone away this weekend to a different city or town in Ecuador but with my ankle not fully healed, I decided to make the most out of Quito (which wasn’t hard, Quito has a neverending supply of things to do).
On Tuesday September 15th, after classes finished, Kiki, Ally and I headed to Mitad del Mundo. We took the iconic pictures standing with one foot on each hemisphere, enjoyed an incredible view from the top of the monument (though the stairs killed us), and ate a tasty lunch (ceviche for the win!).
The funny thing is though, that that big ol’ monument at the so-called “middle of the world” isn’t actually the middle of the world.The true equatorial line runs through this little place a five-ten minute walk up the road.
Centro Historico by day
This Saturday September 19th, Kiki, Rebecca and I headed downtown to deeper explore some of the sights from our previous trip down in the evening. We all live pretty far from downtown so even the simple act of getting there took some effort. However, after meeting up in Parque Carolina (which is like our thing now), we consulted our trusty maps and decided to try out the TroleBus which runs north-south a couple blocks west of the park. For the same cost as a normal city bus ($0.25 USD) we hopped on a crowded TroleBus, and were downtown in no time.
We arrived a block down from Plaza Grande and were yet again immediately struck by the immense beauty and grandeur of it all. We walked around a bit, trying to get our bearings and decide what it was we most wanted to see in the day. Realising that although it was only 11 we were starving, we sat down at one of the first little cafes we saw and were all able to find something tasty and cheap. We had what seems to be our signature orders while we are out: Kiki got an humita for $1.50 USD, Becca got a pernil sandwich $2.50 USD, and I had an empanada chilena con pollo $1.25 USD.
We were happy to find Centro Cultural was free to enter. It contained some artwork, but the real draw for myself was the sheer architectural beauty of it. The courtyard in the centre was a little slice of paradise. We checked out La Catedral Metropolitana which was gorgeous as well, and included a small museum housing papal artifacts, dress, and artwork.
La Compania de Jesus was just as striking, if not more, given that the interior was entirely decorated with gold. Unfortunately no pictures could be taken inside but you’ll just have to trust me on this, it was pretty fancy.
We walked around trying to decide what to do next when we came across the coffee shop my host mom had told me to check out, Pacari. I insisted on going in to the girls, who were good sports about the whole thing, and came to appreciate the visit. Becca and Kiki aren’t coffee drinkers but they each ordered something and enjoyed themselves as well. The coffee was the best I’d had since arriving (most of what I’ve found has been instant Nescafe, and pre-sickeningly-sweetened), they source it ethically, AND the owners and all of the staff are super cool. Plus, they also sell chocolate. I am definitely going to return before I head back to Canada to get some beans and chocolate for home.
Next, with our newly caffeine-induced energy, we decided to trek uphill many blocks to La Basilica del Voto Nacional. I think we all agree that La Basilica was the highlight of the day. A massive, and breath-takingly beautiful building complete with stained glass windows and an unreal amount of stairs. There were even a bunch of opportunities to cross questionable bridges and sketchy ladders, but I left that up to Keekster. By about 4pm it was just starting to rain a bit, and considering our very lacking familiarity with the transit we were planning on taking home, we decided to make our exit.
Somehow, I still have not gotten to do all that I would like to down there, but now that I have taught myself how to get there easily, it will be a piece of cake the next time I want to take another swing at it.