Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Quito? But we just began-o...

So like I was saying yesterday, my vision of Quito completely changed that Friday, when I toured the city. Finally getting out there to explore what was going to be my home for the next 4.5 months was just what the doctor ordered.

I woke up bright and early to meet up at María Antonieta's (the study-abroad progam coordinator) house with the rest of people from our program. We were leaving at 7:30am for a bus tour of the city, as well as a visit to a few museums and historical landmarks. We were also told not to bring lunch - which got me very excited, because free food is one of my favorite things in the world (they say the love of food is the most sincere form of love there is). Once we were all there, we hopped on our magic school bus (it really was a yellow school bus), and we were off.

Señor Medina, our trusty chauffeur. He let me sit in the passenger seat so I could feel cool take pictures.

María Antonieta was our handy dandy tour guide. If I recall correctly, she studied Latin-American history and art, so she knows everything about Quito, and threw knowledge and fun facts about the city at us everywhere we went.

She's also quite the comedian.

Our first stop was at a mirador overlooking one of the many valleys in Quito.

Just behind those two mountains is Cumbayá, where my university is located.

I guess riding on a school bus brought us back to our elementary school days where walking in a line was the law.

Afterwards, we drove past the central part of the city and up into the skirts of Pichincha, the mountain overlooking Quito from the west.

Driving through central Quito.

Pichincha in the background - that's where we're headed. Also note 'El Panecillo', the hill to the left.

We drove around in the mountains along winding roads, climbing up about 600 feet in the proces, until we reached our stop - El Templo de la Patria.

Definitely a much better example of brutalist architecture than BU's law building.

Cows are very patriotic here in Quito, apparently.

El Templo de la Patria is a museum erected at 'La Cima de la Libertad', the site of the Battle of Pichincha. On May 24th, 1822,  Latin-American rebel forces were intercepted by the Spanish army at this very spot - the rebels ended up winning a decisive victory however, liberating Quito and securing independence from which the Republic of Quito would eventually emerge.

I forgot who this is, so I'm just going to say it's Ché Guevara and Jesus put together.

War drums from the Battle of Pichincha.

There's always a garrison of soldiers (and their lady friends apparently) stationed at the museum site.
Mural showing the liberation of Quito.

It was getting to be around lunch time (HELL YEA, FOOD), so our next stop was El Panecillo, a hill  located in central quito with a huge and beautiful statue of Virgin Mary at the top. From what they told us, it's not the regular Virgin Mary, but the Virgin mentioned in the Book of Revelations (but honestly, the catholic church has like 23475 Virgin Marys and they're pretty much all the same).

At the top of El Panecillo

We ate at a restaurant called Pim's, which was located right on El Panecillo, and as you can imagine, had some spectacular views of the city. The music was kind of weird though - they kept playing stuff like destiny's child and things like that (yes, we know the restaurant is filled with mostly gringos, but we're not in the 90s or the 00s anymore).

We are excited for food.

Free canelazo shot? Cheers.

I like my Beef Tenderloins stabbed with plantain chips.

We had a great lunch and some wonderful conversation. And trust me, the conversation WAS wonderful  - a few of us realized we were all Game of Thrones fans, and talked about that the entire meal. By the time we left, we were still so full from the food (omnomnom) that we had trouble dragging our food bellies out of the restaurant (there were lots of stairs involved).

Afterwards, we stopped by the colonial center of San Juan Quito.

San Sebastian y De Cristo? I feel like if I turn around, I'll get to El Morro.

Yeah, I felt like I was back in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Makes sense though - the same people (the Spaniards) built it, and from the looks of it, they pretty much stuck with the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it rule' - this is pretty much a bigger version of Old San Juan (good thing Hector Lavoe isn't Ecuadorian, or they would have gotten their own Calle Luna, Calle Sol).

Palomas. Palomas everywhere.
Voy subiendo, voy bajando.

Spanish colonial architecture is beautiful however, and is special wherever you go. Every sunday, they close down 20 miles of streets all through Quito - so you will inevitably see me biking through here very soon.

At the end of the day, I got to know the city a little better, and felt a little more at home in the process (especially after visiting the colonial part).

First day out = success.

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