Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bruschetta-tasting tour

It ain't easy keeping up with this creative mind! Today was a small bruschetta-tasting tour around the Mariscal neighborhood. Ice-cold beer. Ice-cold Diet Cokes. Bruschetta and a perfect day - not too sunny, not too cloudy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mindo Lindo

Today we made a special day trip out of the city, to Mindo, about an hour northwest of Quito. I love going this way - the changes in the weather, vegetation, wildlife. The waterfalls coming down out of tree-covered mountains. Steep cliffs plunging down to small, trickling (or raging) rivers.

We got a big umbrella leaf along the way. Put him in the back seat but I'm not sure he was comfortable - not a lot of space back there for him.

Here is a sense of how big these things are.

Perfect for getting out of the sun or rain with.

Spent some time in a tree-cabin resort (El Carmelo). Had a nice time walking around the grounds.

On the way home, a little Ecuador-adventure for you: a landslide, which kept us oh so close yet oh so far from home for about an hour while people tried to build a ramp out of sand in order to get around it. A bit too much adventure for me, perhaps, as the land kept sliding down.

Well, that's living in Ecuador for you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Walking Route (in Car) #4: the Basilica

Today's walking route was more of a driving route. For one, we are getting enough of these hills.

I really like the Basilica. Andrés's grandpa is buried in the crypts here, so we go to mass here a couple of times a year. I like how majestic and regal it seems.

The altar is something different - very plain and simple but with the Ecuadorian flag. A lot of altars in Ecuadorian churches have the flag right up there with the image of Jesus.

Dad's teaching me a lot. He does his homework before we go places and then tells me what to look for. For example, look at these cool gargoyles.

Made in the images of Galapagos animals and other animals from Quito. I don't remembering noticing them before, although Andrés has for sure shown them to me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Inti-Ñan Museum, or the Path of the Sun

Today we went to the Equator. In fact, we went to three equators: the main one, where most of the tourists go and which the Escuela Politecnica Nacional measured (wrong). The original in Calacali, measured (wrongly) by the French in the 1700s. And the one, Inti-Ñan, measured by the Quitus over a thousand years ago (correctly).

Definitely, Inti-Ñan was the highlight. We saw how some native tribes in Ecuador (still) live.

Dad with his Haorani friend.

Some lovely shrunken heads. The one on the right was a 12-year-old boy, preserved thus for his status in the tribe. Over 15o years old or so. Something like that.

But better than anything was learning all the cool things that you can do, right on the equator.

Like a balance an egg on a nail.

Or watch how water rotates differently right on the equator and even two feet south and two feet north.

Or how you lose resistance on the equator and can't really defend yourself from another person's attack, but a foot off of the equator, you retain your strength.

And I walked along the equator with my thumbs up and eyes closed and could feel the magentic pull of the north and the south.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Guinea pigs, ice cream and bizcochos, oh my!

Anyone who knows Andres knows that he likes his food. Anytime we go on a trip he is all about finding the food that will go along with it. And sometimes the food stops trump any other stop. Today it was guinea pig in Chaltura (I ended up not quite getting up the nerve. I doubt I am missing much). (And, yes, that is the kids like zombies in front of iPods. Well, you know, it keeps them quiet.)

Next it was ice cream in Ibarra. Pictures while we ate and made room for round two. Throw in quesadillas just for good measure!

"Mommy? How about a picture here?"

"Oh, and here too!"

Bati and the kids at Yaguarcocha Lake.

And in Cayambe bizcocho biscuits and caramel sauce for the ride home.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pictureless Saturday

Ah! I had to spend the morning at Tin's school and the afternoon at work and I didn't get a picture today! Not much going on... just hanging out, trying to catch up on stuff and getting ready for tomorrow's trip to Chaltura, where some say the best place for guinea pig in the world is. Well, we'll know tomorrow!

(And here's the guinea pig that later ended up in Grandpa Dan's stomach!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Walking Tour #3: San Marcos and Alameda Park

Another walking tour - as if our feet haven't had enough! :) But, it has been so fun getting to know more of Old Town. Today we took a taxi to La Merced and caught it open.

Next we visited a small, traditional neighborhood called San Marcos. I have never been here - have never even heard of it! Quite a little treasure in the middle of bustling downtown. Quiet, shady, no traffic. Ahhhh, fresh air. And as an added bonus - a working fountain!

Took these steps down, but everyone else seemed to be taking them up!

Took a taxi back up to Alameda Park.

Always getting that perfect shot, ya know! :)

The monument dedicated to Simón Bolívar - Latin America's freedom fighter and hero.

Going up to Bethlehem Church. This is the church Laura and Checho are members of.

Then a short rest in El Ejido Park as we make our way back to work to pick up Andrés. Oh, and Kari had to check out the little library they have built in the park...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Walking Tour #2: The Route of the Theaters

Today the tour consisted of theaters and, of course, churches!

First, the Sucre Theater. Gorgeous. So much work has been done restoring some of these old buildings.

Next was Teatro de Variedades. Not technically on the tour but pretty and all restored, too!

A cool building on some street. It's amazing all the times you come down here but are so busy watching for traffic, or shopping, or talking to the person with you, you never even look up to see the buildings. You really need a tourist (with a photographer's eye, of course) with you to start appreciating things more.

Bolivar Theater, a cultural icon and now a gutted mess. A gas tank at Pizza Hut exploded over ten years ago and to this day the theater has not been restored. I'm assuming they are still caught up in the legal battles. A shame, too, since I can remember going to the theater café with Andrés's aunt on some of my first trips to Ecuador and having little finger sandwiches on the balcony.

Santa Catalina. The nuns here are cloistered and survive by selling wine and honey and other items to people, who go up to a turnstile, put their money in the little cubbyhole, and turn it. A minute later their product appears. There was a constant line 2-3 deep the whole time we were there.

Santo Domingo Church. Open. Cool altar. I didn't take a picture and probably should have, since it was only the second time I've been in there. Grandpa Dan will have to send me a copy of his.

And down to La Ronda. I took this picture for Andrés because I knew he would like it, and sure enough! Of all the pictures he immediately brought this one up and said, "Cool picture!" I know my honey, that's for sure!

The balconies of Quito. Classic Old Town.

Back up to San Francisco Church. Candied peanuts in all varieties on the way. Spooky clouds.

Inside the convent we spent a few minutes recuperating and hiding from the sun. It was hot and we were tired, but it was so peaceful and cool inside the convent. Getting away from the smoke and smog and noise of downtown Quito, yet still in the midst of it all...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Walking Tour #1: The Street of the Seven Crosses

Today Grandpa Dan and I started the first of our walking tours of downtown colonial Quito. The tour today was of García Moreno street - named so after the president who was assassinated on the street many many years ago. But it used to be known as the Street of the Seven Crosses, since you could look down the street and see seven crosses of churches from the top. I have always heard of the seven crosses, but have never taken the time to "get to know them", so to speak. Today was the perfect opportunity!

The first cross: Santa Barbara Church.

One nice thing about getting downtown around 10 a.m. is that the churches are open. I had never been in this church before, so it was nice to go inside. A very humble, modest church.

The second cross: La Concepción Church. The picture was discovered a few years ago and now has been restored. Nice to look up and see that there - I almost never even knew there was a church on that corner!

Also open, also one I don't think I have ever gone inside. It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful and unique every church in Quito is.

Not sure - possibly Santa Marianita de Jesús? Very interesting - I don't think I have ever seen a woman on the cross before.

The third cross at the Cathedral, right in Plaza Grande. Not open. I think I forgot to get a shot of the cross!

But nice doors. Someday I am going to do a picture tour of different doors and windows in Quito.

The fourth cross: El Sagrario.

Breathtaking inside. Look at that ceiling!

The fifth cross: La Compañía.

The sixth: El Carmen Alto.

The seventh cross will be for another day. Once we got to El Carmen Alto the characters on the street started getting a bit shadier and creepier and we decided not to risk it. Plus - our feet were starting to hurt!