Our last week in Quito Emily and I had a long list of things to do, especially since we’d already missed out on so much from me being sick the first week and her being sick the next. (If you go rafting, don’t swallow any water. Just don’t.) Monday we explored the Centro Historico with David and Mido. We saw some incredible churches and Emily went inside the Iglesia de la Compania which is an all-gold church. You had to pay a few bucks to enter so I didn’t, because I’m super duper cheap now and I wasn’t all that interested.
Honestly there wasn’t much for us to do in the Historical Center besides shop for trinkets similar to those we found at Otavalo. The buildings were super pretty though, and more like what I’d expected Quito to look like.
On our way back Emily had her change purse stolen out of her purse on the Ecovia bus. We’re lucky it was only change though, and that that’s all we had stolen during our time in Ecuador. I really felt safe the whole time there. Except for when we were looking for a used bookstore and some guys across the street were yelling “3 dollars!” at us. I thought they were selling food or something. But then a nice man who spoke very good English pulled up to us in his car and said, “Ladies, it’s not safe here. Those men are dealing drugs, you need to leave this corner.” So we left. Quickly. (When we found the bookstore though, I bought two books… in French. One was a book called Ecuador about a Frenchman who explored the country in the 1930s and the other was Embarrassments in French and How to Avoid them. I was excited about my finds!)
Tuesday Emily and I did the TeleferiQo, the gondola lift at the edge of Quito to the side of Pichincha Volcano. It took us from Quito’s regular altitude of 10,000 feet to the very high 12,943 feet. It was hard to breathe. I felt like I did when I first arrived in Ecuador. But the view was definitely worth it, and worth the pricey $8 ticket up there. There’s a trail from the lift to the top of the volcano that takes a few hours but we just weren’t up for it…
Wednesday we went to a free salsa class our school put on. Later that night we practiced our moves at Ladies’ Night in the Mariscal. Everyone we talked to kept saying there’s free drinks for ladies on Ladies’ Night all over Gringolandia from 8 to 10 so Emily and I went earlier than the rest of our group to see what was going on. Well, we couldn’t find free drinks anywhere. We finally gave up and bought a 2-for-1 special that our waitress recommended and UGH!!! Worst drink I’ve ever had! (Although that’s not saying much… I’ve only ever had a few.) It literally tasted and looked like Pepto Bismol. So yeah. But finally at 9:30 our friends from the school showed up and brought us to the discoteca where the free drinks were, Bungalow. From 8-10 there they have girls enter in one door and guys from the other, and separate them until 10:00 when they can start to mingle. It was interesting.
Thursday we went with David to Mitad del Mundo, the equator monument. The huge monument there isn’t actually where the real equator is though. They built it before GPS and technology stuff could find where the line exactly is. So we took a few pictures with the monument, shopped around at the many shops selling Otavalo-like souvenirs, and set off the find the real equator line.
I saw online that there was another nearby museum on the real equator so we searched for that. It was only about 200m away on the main road and then onto a hidden dirt road. They should really make it easier to find. Well, this museum was 100x better than the “official” monument because there were experiments set up, guides actually showing you around, and shrunken heads. Gross, but I thought they were really cool to see. Our guide explained the whole process to us, how they take out the skull and put rocks in to keep some of the shape… They also had a sloth shrunken head there… I don’t know why.
As a geography freak I was soooo thrilled to stand on the actual equator. The experiments our guide showed us were pretty cool, too. They had a tub full of water and when they drained it on the equator, the water fell straight down the drain. When they moved it to the north, the water funneled down one way and on the south it funneled the other way. Pretty neat.
That was my busy week of after-school activities in Quito. For our last long weekend in Ecuador Emily and I headed to Baños, my favorite town in the country. More on that next…