11 March 2012
Connie, warm in the sun and cool in the shade
Quito is a pretty city nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains and the volcano, Cotapaxi. It is between 7000 and 8000 feet high, so it’s pleasantly cool after all the hot and humid weather we’ve been used to. We went on the Teleferico, which is a gondola style ski lift, up to a view point at 12,000 feet high. The views over the city were spectacular from there. There are hiking trails and mountain biking trails from the top. Two teenage boys shared our gondola and had their bikes on the outside of the gondola. We could see the trails zigzagging steeply down the mountain under the gondola and the boys were very excited. After that we went to the “Mitad del Mundo” or the “center of the world”. This is where it is 0 degrees, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds latitude, in other words, exactly on the equator. There is a large monument and exhibition buildings that explain who and how this exact site was discovered. There is an exhibit where you can pour water down three sinks: one is right on the equator and the water goes straight down the sink, another sink is just one or two feet to one side of the equator and the water swirls around and down the sink, when water is poured down the sink on the other side of the equator it swirls down the other way. Very interesting!! We also enjoyed exploring the historical old section of town, where a lot of the government business of today takes place. We saw the presidential palace where there were two guards that stood on either side of the big door without moving (similar to the Queen of Eng. Guards). The presidential palace is on a beautiful plaza with fountains and monuments. There are a number of beautiful old churches, nunneries, and monasteries in this part of town. The huge Basilica with its twin spires is on a hill and can be seen from many parts of this section of the town. High on another hill is a huge statue of the Guardian Angel of the city which can be seen from most places in the city. We will be staying at a B. and B. that’s 2 blocks from this plaza in a beautiful old building when we return from the Galapagos.