We're now almost done with our stay in Quito, Ecuador, and so many great things have happened that it's hard to list them all. We took Spanish lessons, learned about the project we will be doing with Yanapuma, toured a water treatment plant, and took salsa lessons.
One of my favorite activities came on Thursday morning, when we toured Quito's historic district. We saw a church that took 160 years to construct (it was gilded all over, which prompted Katherine to wonder, "How many people would Jesus have fed with the money it took to build this place?"), and at lunch, I ate cow's tongue (it tasted pretty much like regular beef) and had a delicious drink called Ponche. The best experience, though, was when we climbed the Basilica del Voto, a huge gothic cathedral built in 1892.
The architecture was amazing, but the first interesting moment for me came when I saw the door:
It's not the best quality photograph, but the engraving depicts a robed Spaniard blessing (and presumably converting) a kneeling Native American. Kinda says it all, doesn't it?
Anyway, we climbed up to the very top of the bell tower, which had an amazing view:
We could see buses and cars, as well as dozens of uniformed schoolchildren scattered in courtyards across the city. In the background of the second picture, you can see a few of the amazing mountains that surround Quito. The city is built far up onto their slopes.
The bell tower at the cathedral was covered in interesting graffiti. Climbing to the top of the Basilica was definitely an exertion (there was an elevator, but that's not for hardcore TBB types like us), so I got to wondering: when they've hiked up all those steps, what do people write?
Some folks just went for the classics:
Jose, Sanoy were here 1999
While others just admired the view:
There were languages from many places...
But love, of course, is universal:
You are the light that illuminates my life, you are the best of woman, I love you.
Fat man, I love you. From black girl.
("Gordo" and "negro" are sometimes used as terms of endearment in Ecuador!)
Quite a few inscriptions had an artistic flair:
And some were funny:
Spotted two-thirds of the way up: "From here he didn't attempt to climb any farther."
While some were sad:
"These nights when you are not here... (something I don't know) I feel terrible."
Here's one for my mom, who hates misplaced apostrophes.
And here's one that just caught my eye.
Anyway, tomorrow we are leaving Quito to head out to the Tsachila village where we will be spending the next few weeks. We won't have internet access, and even sending postcards might be iffy, but if you email me when I'm there I will absolutely respond when I get back. As they say in Ecuador, ciao!
(No, really. They say that here.)