Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Quito and Otavalo

Flying into busy Quito after the peace of the Galapagos came as quite a shock. We were back at significant altitude again (2500+ meters) and chilly once more. The old town of Quito is considered to be one of the nicest and most significant in South America. We spent a day looking around and checking it out, popping into a couple of the churches as well. The Jesuit church is ridiculously gaudy and gold. We overheard a tour guide explaining that this was considered necessary to convert the Incan heathens in general because they were so used to decorating with gold as it was symbolic of the sun and sun god. In any case there was a lot of gold nearby so they used it liberally. The central plaza is smaller than I expected but busy and pretty enough.

Carondelet Palace on the Grand Plaza

Grand Plaza and the cathedral
Facade of the Jesuit church

A peek inside the Jesuit church. This level of gold continues throughout the interior

Fun and games on La Ronda street.

A view over the historic quarter.

Quito is huge.

We struggled to find the motivation and energy for it though. Maybe it was the change in altitude. I strongly suspect it was more due to the let down of coming back to the "real world" after 2 weeks in paradise. Quito is usually thrown in as a first or last stop by most visitors to the Galapagos so I suspect this is a common thing and perhaps Quito's reputation unjustly suffers as a result. Either way, we weren't going to force ourselves into ambition in another big S. American city just for the sake of doing something. We were there 2 days and on one of them made a short trip out to Mitad del Mundo, a large park built on the equator line. It is actually something of a tourist trap with a giant monument to the equator and a handful of museums, but it suffers from a bit of competition and indecisiveness. There is another, smaller ethnic museum a few hundred meters away that also has an equator line and monuments to pose in front of. A sign nearby states that the gps 0'0 point can vary by as much as a couple km so anywhere within that wide band is fair game. While this may be true on a massive time scale (though you have to wonder how navigation works in the meantime), there should be at least a geographical centre that is less variable. In any case it just adds to confusion that you don't see at other equator monuments around the world. In the end we went to the smaller of the sites with fewer people.

The equator... Possibly... lol

Mitad del Mundo monument. The equator... Again... Possibly... lol

We weren't planning on visiting anywhere else in Ecuador until we realized that our crossing into Colombia would be a lot easier/faster if we started that long day from further north so in the end we spent a night in Otavalo. It is only a couple hours north of Quito on the main highway so we had time to check it out briefly as well. It is a small city well known for having one of the best handcraft markets to visit in South America. We were not there on a Saturday, the main market day but there was still enough going on in the market plaza to get an idea. Lots of colourful fabric, blankets and clothing were on display and for the first time in Ecuador we saw some indigenous people wearing traditional clothing. The market and its goods are quite tourist-centric now but being there midweek we found it rather quiet and without much hassle at all. There is also quite a bit to do in the surrounding area, hikes and lakes and whatnot and it is all very mountainous and scenic but we were in a hurry to get moving north again right away.

In the Otavalo market

Exploring Otavalo

Fruit market, Otavalo.
Simon Bolivar Park, Otavalo



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home