August 9-12, 2012
The last few days have been just thoroughly terrific. As you all may have known, Brianne, Eric, and Kaia have been in Ecuador for a couple weeks now. The four of us purposed to meet up sometime after I arrived in Quito. Accordingly, they came to Quito on the 9th, three days after I arrived. Together, we adventured to a few of the popular spots in Quito; we went to the world renown Mitad del Mundo, El Centro Historico, and the Mariscal/La Plaza Foch, plus much much more.
El Mitad del Mundo literally translates as “The Middle of the World.” If those of you reading this haven’t deduced how the word Ecuador translates, you won’t be deceived in believing its meaning is literally Equator. Indeed, observe a global map. Brianne, Eric, Kaia and I were there. Dead center, mate. At El Mitad del Mundo, there are many fascinating museums including an impressive insect museum, which was pretty sweet. Also, there are multiple restaurants that serve almuerzos: the latinoamericano lunch that brings a delicious glass of fresh juice, huge bowl of soup, and a plate of rice, occasionally with beans, and ALWAYS meat, especially here in the highlands. This massive meal (found at any and all restaurants) will cost an average of $2.50. Heladerias (ICE CREAM stores), tienditas (small mercantile stores) and various other amusements made the entire 6 hours we spent there more than worth it. The actual monument for the center of the world itself is a colossal spectacle, built of stone and brick. Random fact: the monument is actually mathematically misplaced. But, it is awesome. (Pictures will be coming soon.) Now, running through the center of this park-like area (imagine a six flags without amusement rides and about 3,000 acres smaller, and food for 1/5 the price), is a yellow line marking the Equator line! Eric, being the dawg he is, showed us a trick worth sharing with you all. The northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere force pressure towards the center of the world. And, because this is the center, the equator, these pressures are perfectly equal along this line. So, Eric finds an egg, I still don’t know howw, and then locates this small stand with a nail on top. This stand is dead center between the northern and southern hemispheres; it is the location of the actual correct mathematical measurement. He placed the egg on the nail and it balanced flawlessly. Like Christopher Columbus. Yes, el Mitad del Mundo was great fun. Did I mention there was ice cream?
We also went to the Centro Historico, but on a different day. El Centro Historico is a really terrific place. It is the older part of Quito, therefore it has a feel of incredible history. The first street ever built in Quito is found in the Centro Historico with several really fun tienditas (remember what those are?) and many small restaurants. This street also contains a piano studio that I believe is magical. The now-owner of this studio fixes as well as builds pianos from scratch. There was one piano there from the 1800s that the “piano doctor” had fixed! When all four of us passed by, music of the most jovial kind was playing from inside. We discovered that for just $50 a month, anyone can play there whenever they wish between 8:00am-8:00pm. I can’t wait to do this. The Centro Historico also has several ancient churches, museums, government buildings, and plazas! The churches here are a combinations of baroque and native architecture, which is fascinating to see. Pan de oro (gold paint or gold dust like paper) covers many of the intricate doorways, ceilings, and interior structures of these iglesias antiguas. The amount of museums in Quito is incredible, and many of them are found in El Centro Historico, but also in La Mariscal.
La Mariscal, aka gringo landia, is about one square mile of bars, clubs, hostels, museums, restaurants, tiendas, and so much partying. The noise from 10:00pm-4:00AM will keep you from sleep, as Brianne, Eric, and Kaia would concur. During their stint here in Quito, they stayed in a cute bed and breakfast hostel conveniently located in La Mariscal. I typically enjoy La Mariscal, but as one could imagine it is an exhausting environment. Also, La Plaza Foch is a plaza within La Mariscal where the more expensive restaurants and bars are located. It’s fun to observe the people in this location particularly. Anyhow, because of the injury inflicted upon Brianne by a dog, the four of us spent a considerable amount of time in this part of town, which was not at all unfortunate. It really is quite pleasant, especially before 8:00pm. After 8:00, it’s a different type of pleasant with a beer in hand. This is gringo landia.
In addition to the three aforementioned locations, the four adventurers also went to a hill located near the Centro Historico. On this hill is a monument most massive. She is called the Virgen de Quito, and she’s huge. This statue is very symbolic with the Virgen standing on top of a serpent, which is on top of the crescent moon, which is on top planet Earth, and some. You can see this statue from most parts of Quito, therefore she is looking over the city and protecting the people within. So far, she’s done a terrific job. All 3 plus million people within Quito’s city limits are alive.
Quito is the country’s capital, so one could compare it to Washington DC. Both places contain a fascinating amount of history, museums, people, monuments, and beauty. I thoroughly love it here: the history, people, beauty, and Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador.