My goal yesterday was to find a nice warm sweater or a poncho I could take with me up to Cotopaxi when I head up there today. I ended up with two pretty scarfs, but no sweater. But I had a legitimate excuse for why I failed! I got to shake hands with the President of Ecuador. I think that trumps shopping. :)
First of all, I want you to see the view I have been waking up to since last Wednesday:
I literally open my eyes and that's what I see. Most awesome view ever!
Yesterday morning I decided to head into the Old Town, hoping to run into a market somewhere or someone selling sweaters or ponchos. Added bonus of getting to see pretty pretty buildings on a stunningly perfect day.
UNESCO declared Quito one of the first World Cultural Heritage Sites back in 1978. It has one of the best preserved and least altered historic centers in the Americas. The area is filled with churches and museums, the government palace and plenty of shops to keep you busy.
Originally uploaded by theloriest
I wandered into the Museo Nacional De Arte Colonial, but didn't see any displays. I did, however, find a library! With roof access that led to some amazing views.
I wandered down the street and found a number of fabric shops, but decided to hold off buying anything quite yet. I want to see what Otavalo has to offer first. One of the most amazing buildings I saw was La Compañia, a church that unfortunately was closed and I couldn't go inside. I've heard that seven tons of gold supposedly ended up on the ceiling, walls, and altars... but the outside was ornate enough and I took a shit ton of pictures.
Still searching for that sweater I continued wandering, until I stumbled upon a large group of men in military uniforms, all carrying musical instruments! "Ohhh, this could be neat!" I said to myself. So I found a place I could wait until they went on the move, and then I followed them.
We found ourselves back in the main plaza, and to my surprise a huge event appeared to be gearing to start soon! I had no idea what was going on, just that there were kids with flags, kids with various instruments, a military honor guard, and my friends the military band I had followed to get there. I found a good vantage point for photographs and though I didn't understand a word of what was said I enjoyed the performances quite a lot.
As you can see, I had a good view of the VIPs. And to my surprise, one of those VIPs was Rafael Correa, the President of Ecuador! And I was standing right where he passed by on his way out of the plaza. He was shaking hands with people as he passed, and he shook my hand too! :) Coolest random thing to happen to me yet!
Turns out the President of Turkey was visiting Ecuador, so my guess is that this huge event was staged to show off a bit. At 11 the President and a host of other dignitaries (later found out they were all the heads of government for various cities around Ecuador... the woman standing next to the President was I think in charge of the Galapagos) came out on the balcony of the Government Palace and then a band started up and there were performances by a group with flags, and another group on horseback. A huge crowd had gathered in the plaza... waving and cheering for their President... and when the band played songs they knew every person began to sing along. It was completely amazing to witness.
The rest of my day was not nearly as cool. I never managed to find the sweater or poncho, but I'll be fine. I did wander down to the Chinese restaurant down the street for lunch, and was hugely surprised at how delicious the food was. Spent some time hanging out with people in the hostel. I'm heading up to Cotopaxi, where there is no internet. So I soaked up my need for internet and got all caught up before I am to leave.
Managed to succeed to not falling down any more stairs. Last night I played more cards before coming down to my room to pack for the next few days. I'm leaving my suitcase here in Quito and am only bringing my backpack with me for the next few days.
The plan is to grab the transport up to the Secret Garden Cotopaxi at 10. It's about a 2.5 hour drive. I'm staying there tonight and tomorrow night. I don't plan on climbing the volcano, which is one of the world's highest active volcanos, but I do plan on relaxing and enjoying being away from everything. I'll go horseback riding across the Andean plains. And if I feel up to it I will go hiking a bit up to the waterfalls I've been told about, where you can jump off one of them! I've always wanted to jump off a waterfall.
Anyway, I am off to locate food, and to then check out of my room. I will talk to you again from Baños, which is where I plan to head after my visit to Cotopaxi.