Quito Finale and Farewell

Our last few days in Quito were really nothing exceptional.
When you return to a city three times, there is a sense of comfort about it
that does not propel you into wanting to do much. We didn’t want to leave with
regrets, so we did push a bit.

The city government house has free tours if you are willing
to wait in line. This is the same place that has the toy soldier guards
standing outside that we walked into once before, but never got as far as the
garden. This was our Saturday morning opportunity, but it seemed that the
locals had similar ideas, creating a huge line with only 20 people admitted for
a tour at one time. It was hot out creating an uncomfortably sunny line of
waiting. While I held our place, Ron went to check out another cultural place we
had ignored up to now. Twenty minutes later he returned as I was baking in the
sun. Taking my place, I took respite in the shade, but then walked over to
reread the sign of the building we were waiting entrance to. Good thing I did,
because each person needed their national ID or passport to get in. We had
neither and could have been turned away at the gate.

Giving up that idea, we went right next door to the Quito Cultural
Center. Given that there are two guards standing in the doorway, it is intimidating
to just walk in, but we did freely and without grief or harassment. In the extensive
courtyard, the public is privy to a photography show of an Ecuadorian’s photos
of people and places of Quito. As great as the photos were, the rest of the
downstairs rooms had art from various artists with works of portraits or self-portraits
that ranged from weird to incredibly creative. Exploring the 2nd and
3rd floors of this massive building, we discovered that it contains
a library segmented room by room with divisions of books. One room held social
sciences, another economics and so on. There were two rooms for the children’s
books at two different ends of the long hallway. On the 3rd floor,
you can walk out to view the city, though the views are not spectacular, but
interesting. We did witness some demonstration in the park, but never found out
the reason.

This was our last chance to get to the Egas Museum, the work
of a famous Ecuadorian painter. We had made attempts on our last two visits,
but it was closed. The plan was to have lunch at Govinda’s, a full 3 course meal
for $2 and then walk across the street to the museum. Foiled again, the museum
was still closed without any posting of hours.

Shopping or at least window shopping took up the rest of the
afternoon, before reading/writing time. Dinner was at a restaurant decorated
with Harley Davidson and Coca Cola enameled signs on the wall. It was there I
discovered that one of the arms of my designer sunglasses was missing. As we
were leaving, we heard music in the nearby courtyard. Wandering over, there was
a free public indigenous dance performance, an Ecuadorian ballet in traditional
costumes with a man dressed as a shaman. I could have kicked myself for not
bringing my camera.

Sunday, as we walked to the main square, we found all of the
major streets were blocked from traffic. We found that on Sundays, this is the
routine. It is to encourage people to ride their bikes and exercise. There are
blocks and blocks of bike and pedestrian access. Children taking advantage are
speeding down hills at velocities that would make me pale, taking advantage of
the free access, though they are competing with the trolley buses still.

We had never made it to inside the basilica and thought to
hire a taxi, but with the lack of auto access, it was not possible. We walked
instead up some really steep hills that required step, step, step, rest… step,
step, step, rest… step, step, step, sit down somewhere. We came across the
vertical garden, the one we had seen from trolley buses only until now.

At the bus terminal, there is handicraft market that we have
seen before, but never perused. There were some interesting crafts and some we
could not make heads or tails of either. There was a local musical band playing
and people were in the center of the booths dancing. There were a couple of
really elderly women dancing alone doing some unusual movements. I would have
loved to have seen them with partners.

When the basilica was in view, I was almost tempted to thank
a higher power. We could get in only because a mass was being conducted.
Compared the gold and glitter of all of the other churches we have seen, this
was a poor step-sister in comparison. I had my camera, but was not motivated to
take a single photo. Outside was different. They had a roasted pig and were
serving like an old fashioned American church dinner. We were not certain if
this is customary or if there was a special reason. Ron happened to notice the
gargoyles were indigenous animals like iguanas and turtles. Attached to the
church is a crypt; it was very interesting as it resembled our bunk beds on the
cruise.

On our way back we stopped one more time at the Egas Museum
only to find it closed still. Back in the main square, we had to stop in the
tourism office yet again. Ron had spotted a wall hanging that he really liked
for the blue bedroom. After deliberating the expense, we returned to purchase
it.

The rest of the day was reading and writing until 4 pm when
we wanted to try La Ronda once again. The last two times we were there at
different hours and different days, the majority of places were closed. Today
turned out to be no exception. I can only wonder at how these places can exist
or if there really is a business behind the metal barriers where a business
once was. It was disappointing. Stopping for a coffee, I had convinced Ron he
needed to try a hot chocolate. The chocolate here is supposed to be beyond
compare as is the coffee. Neither my coffee nor his hot chocolate were worthy of
mention.

Tomorrow, we fly from Quito to Panama City on Copa Airlines,
followed by KLM from Panama City to Amsterdam and then finally Amsterdam to
Budapest again on KLM. Until then…

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