Hola mis amigos y bienvenidos de nuevo a mi blog sobre Quito, Ecuador!
If you have been following my blogs, you know that both my husband and I visited (and fell in love with) Ecuador earlier this year.
Last week, we decided to “live” in Quito for seven days. Our goal is to eventually immerse ourselves into Spanish language (that we currently study at home) while developing concrete and purposeful goals of living in a community while “giving back” through the use of our time, abilities and skills. We hope to fully achieve this goal on future trips.
During one of our days in Quito, as we were climbing the top towers of the Basilica, we met an American man who has taken on a pet-sitting assignment for an American woman living in Quito. The American woman has dual citizenship and works in Quito. The man that we met (Dave), will stay in the woman’s house rent-free, caring for her dog and home while taking Spanish classes four hours a day, learning the bus transpiration system, cooking his own meals after shopping in the markets, and acclimating into the Ecuadorian life-style for seven weeks. What a fabulous experience and opportunity. It is hard not to envy him and I am hopeful to have a similar experience some day!
During our week in Quito, we stayed in the Hotel Casa San Marcos https://www.casasanmarcos.com/.
This terrific boutique hotel is located on one of the oldest and most historical streets in Quito: Junín. The hotel boasts a fabulous collection of priceless artwork, statues, and antique furniture. The location is breath-taking and close enough to all of the great churches, squares, museums, and our favorite restaurants. Junín street is a little gem because it hasn’t yet been discovered by large tourist groups. We met the owner of Hotel Casa San Marcos, Mayra Ribadeneira de Casares. She is a lovely woman and we treasured our time with her as she gave us a tour of the San Marcos neighborhood, joined us for coffee, and introduced us to her neighbors: painters and owner of the Watercolor Museum, Manuela Saenz and his talented wife. Later in the evening, we walked down Calle La Ronda with Mayra and another friend, eating pizza while walking, meeting local artisans, and enjoying the lights and historical sites of this fabulous street. Later Mayra, who is also the president of RadioMaria.com in Ecuador, mentioned to us some volunteer opportunities at several of her Catholic schools for when we next return to Quito. Meeting Mayra, listening to the stories of her remarkable life, and sharing with her our love for Catholic faith was definitely the highlight of our adventure in Quito.
While in Quito, we returned to many of our favorite spots and got reacquainted with some friends we had met in February:
1. We saw the changing of the guards at the Presidential Palace in Independence Square. So many locals take time off from work to congregate, visit, and sing the National Anthem together. Many of them were happy to include us into their circles. Ecuadorians are such beautiful and peaceful people! There were some protestors there, but it was all very peaceful. On the balcony of the Presidential Palace, we saw the “standing” vice-president. In the photos below, you will see her wearing a red jacket. She is standing in for the current vice-president who is not currently serving due to some legal issues.
2. Quito has an abundance of incredible churches (Iglesias) throughout the city, but our favorite ones are located in Old Town. Our goal was to attend at least one Spanish Catholic mass a day, which is easy to do since so many Iglesias post a mass schedule on the doors. Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus was a favorite, although the Inferno painting (a copy, not the original that was painted by Hermano Hernando de la Cruz in 1620) scared me to death! It’s a vivid painting of Hell that is very frightening and disturbing! But, what I will most remember about this Iglesia and the many other beautiful Quito Iglesias was the fact that each mass we attended was packed with families and locals, many just coming from work. Wow….Beautiful!
NOTE: There is a $2 admission per person at Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, but it’s worth every penny! Photos are not permitted inside Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus.
FREE LIVE ENTERTAINMENT IS EVERYWHERE. THE CLIMATE IS SO PLEASANT (agradable) THAT PEOPLE WANT TO BE OUTSIDE TOGETHER.
3. Watching live entertainment in San Francisco and Plaza Grande Squares is a favorite way to pass the time. Seeing the free plays, cultural dancing that is done in traditional Ecuadorian costumes, and watching the fellowship of the townspeople is an activity we never grow tired of. Everything is performed in Spanish (Espanol), of course, which suits us perfectly!
4. Visiting the church and climbing the tower to the top of the Basilica del Voto. From our hotel, this was a 3 mile walk on the hilly-cobbled streets of Quito. The altitude never bothered us, even when we moved at a fast pace. The walk seems much faster because the tower structure of the Basilica always appears to be very near wherever you are.
5. Monasterio Carmen del Alto Museo and Iglesia. This is my FAVORITE spot in all of Quito. We met Ana, our Museo Guide in February, and made a point to see her several times during this past visit. To me, this is the most beautiful museum and church in the entire world. There is just something about this place that touches down to the deepest part of the heart. And, Ana: If you are reading this: HOLA MI AMIGA! Como estas?
The Museo de la Ciudad below:
6. The Museo de la Ciudad was not open in February, but we visited it last week and LOVED it! It is pretty sophisticated and I would visit it again in a heartbeat. It’s just across the street from Monasterio Carmen de Alto, and while there, I spotted our friend Ana through a window and she was waving to us! I just LOVE Quito so much!
7. Parque La Carolina and Jardin Botanico de Quito were places we had missed last time, but thoroughly enjoyed last week. There are paddle boats that can be rented at Parque La Carolina and the Botanical Gardens even had a resident cat who became a friend. We also checked out Rumipamba Archaeological Museo and took a Spanish-speaking tour with about 60 sixth graders which was a lot of fun and beneficial for our Spanish-learning skills!
Mercado Central below:
8. Mercado Central was frequently visited to order to read the Spanish food signs aloud for proper pronunciation. Maybe next time we’ll buy some groceries there!
9. La Copilla de Hombre is an interesting place to visit if you like modern art and controversy. See Casa Museo Guayasamin while there….
10. The Panecillo or guardian angel can be seen throughout the city. The structure stands high atop a hill and protects Quito. Take a metered taxi there for safety. On a clear day, there are great views of the city and volcanos.
11. Teleferiqo Cable Cars offers wonderful views of the city and some great hiking. Take a metered taxi there for safety.
12. Teatro Bolivar. Although we didn’t have time to take in a show, it’s definitely on the list for next time. We did stop for coffee while there and enjoyed this section of Old Town a lot because it’s like stepping back in time. It reminded us of the 1940’s and 1950’s.
There are also many great little restaurants in Old Town, Quito. Our top favorites:
1. Bandido Brewing: The Hamburguesas and Papa Fritas are INCREDIABLE.
2. Lero Lero. Everything is good here, including the WIFI. The pollo-carne mix emparedado is excellent! The owner and workers there are so much fun!
3. Cafeteria Fabiolita was another favorite spot, but get there early and watch your belongings, as it’s in a busy area of San Francisco Square where a few beggars hang out. It closes at five o’clock. There are great little sandwiches and home-made bagged chips. The owner is super friendly and also has a nice ice cream parlor next door.
4. Ktedrel Cafe. The coffee and cake here are divine. The WIFI is perfect too! We spent a lot of time here.
5. Ronda Pizza as seen up above (when we were with Mayra on Ronda Street) is also a great place to eat in the evenings.
Por ahora, eso es todo. No hay duda de que volveremos a nuestro amado Ecuador. Hasta luega, amigos!