Our last 2 days in Quito are in the books!
Friday we had a slow morning and walked to one of the larger churches in Quito, which happened to be a very short 2 block walk from our apartment.
In fact we had a lovely view of if from our bedrooms (yes our $38/ night apartment was 2 bedrooms!).
The basilica del Voto Nacional (voto=vow, not vote) is interesting in that it is similar to European gothic churches in more than style: it has taken forever to build. Started in the 1890s and was consecrated in 1988! It’s also said to be largest neo- gothic building in Americas.
This newness brings the lovely feature of incorporating more local touches… where there are usually gargoyles or such in Europe, this one has iguanas and local birds, etc.
It’s the first place where we saw another US family, there really are not many North Americans here at all (or Europeans for that matter).
We were able to climb some towers for a gorgeous view of old town, where we could also see our apartment from above.
In the afternoon we decided that the kids needed to see the newer and richer part of town so they had a more balanced view of the city. (We got a view of the truly poor neighborhoods the next day via train). We took about a 30 minute (traffic is terrible here) $4 taxi ride to a mall called Quicentro https://www.quicentro.com where we ate lunch, walked around and got laughed at (not really) for looking for tall sizes in their version of REI. Sadly and not surprisingly, the clientele of the very upscale mall was noticeably much whiter than general population. Not much taller though. Jack is definitely already taller than almost anyone here. Steve stands a head above. The internet tells me the average man here is 5’4.4. Jack is nearly 5’9 at this point.
Kids begrudgingly admitted it felt like it could be in the US. The Dunkin’ Donuts didn’t hurt. Interestingly it was mainly more expensive than home (by a little). Another post on pricing here to come at some point.
Saturday, our last full day in Quito we got up early to take the day-long Tren de los Volcanes. It made a few stops, and we saw some great scenery. Once again few international tourists; it seems like it is mainly a weekend day trip for well to do Quiteños.
The destination was the national park at Cotopaxi, a large famous volcano but what we didn’t know was the train didn’t really give a view of it! We were on the wrong side. Oh well. We were there 🙂 We went on a short walk with a guide. Short was all that was feasible at 11,000+ feet.
The train was completely full and we got the last 4 seats together when we booked on Tuesday. It stopped for lunch in a random station and we had to pick which of 4 restaurants we wanted to go to in advance, which was interesting. A small bus took us (and a couple of dozen others) to a small town 5 minutes away and they miraculous fed us all near simultaneously. A couple of mix ups with our order, and we had way too much food. I had the cuy (guinea pig), to say I had it, but will pass in future. Will leave it at that! Also think lettuce at bottom of my plate cause some stomach upset later. Oops. I didn’t ask about accompanying things. (We can’t drink water here and fresh vegetables and such are suspect, too). Kids had various meats, fries and avocado (Less suspect as it is peeled and not washed).
A long day wrapped up with our attempt at tacos using the local grocery store’s food. Tortillas and ground beef is easy, seasoning and salsa not so much.
We are now 2 hours from Quito, and could not look or feel More different! More to come…
* we have two more nights at airport hotels in Quito on our way to and from the Galapagos in a few weeks.