Sunday, January 31, 2016


Today's post is a little longer. I'm squashing 4 days into it, so bear with me. Captions appear below pictures, just in case you get confused. 

We began our trip by organizing our packs for carrying. Geordie here showing what that looks like. This pic is actually in Baños where we were heading. Stayed two nights at a backpacker place full of youngsters who thought nothing of sitting outside our room chatting and drinking beer till midnight (official quiet hour). 

Back to Quito - the bus station. We took the local TroleBus to the bus station. It was packed and we began stuffed in. Bad thing - at the very first stop we were pushed in further and, in the scrum, Geordie had his wallet pick-pocketed. Yep. He lost about 40 dollars and an expired license. Lesson about where to carry wallets learned. 
A bad pic of the view down into the valley where Baños is located - 1000 meters lower than Quito, but still cool in the evenings. 

This glorious double blossom hibiscus was in our garden at the first place we stayed - the Hotel Transilvania. 

 Just threw this in. It's the chimney over the fireplace at the restaurant we are in right now in Baños.  A little kitschy. 

The streets are not nearly as crowded as Quito here in Baños, but this was a protest against the failure of some promised education for children. 

For the gourmands out there, here's a local Andean delicacy. It's roasted Cuy. We know it more familiarly as guinea pig. 

Making candy in a doorway. The candy is twisted and stretched over and over using the wooden hook in the doorway. There are a number of these around town. 

The local cathedral. Very much revered by the locals. It venerates La Virgen de Agua Santa - the virgin of the holy water. This is a town of hot springs with an active volcano in the background ( not visible from the town - although the town has been evacuated because of eruptions -most recently in 1999. 

The church does have beautiful carved doors - a source of some pride. 

St. Peter with the keys. 

The interior is somewhat gaudy. But highly decorated. 
Here is the venerated Virgin who is taken out on parade in richly dressed gowns occasionally. 

High on the walls are pictures, many of them commemorating miracles attributed to the Virgin. 

There are essays below the somewhat primitive paintings which tell the story of the miracle pictured. 

Outside one can buy candles. 

To bring inside - there are so many burned that they've installed two huge chimney hoods. 

This is the view from our little balcony at La Petite Au Erie. Gorgeous flowers. I have never seen such tall hibiscus. 

This gorgeous flower is in the garden of our second hotel -La Petite Auberge. 

And this exuberant banana flower. 

With a hand of red bananas. 

At a local fruit stall, the red bananas are available to purchase. 

Of course chocolate is grown and processed in Ecuador. We had this bar with cacao chips and salt. 

Just at the edge of town one can see this tall waterfall. More on it later. 

The farmers set fire to the fields on the steep slopes of the mountains. It cast a pall on the hillside all day yesterday. 

Just at the edge of town is a steep gorge with, far below, a small bridge. 

Directly above it is this bridge. Where crazy young people throw themselves off. Yes, they are attached to a rope and wear a harness, but they must have a death wish. This isn't a bungee jump. 

See the guy? Yes he is in mid air. The rope stops them about halfway down and they are lowered the rest of the way. I thought it wouldn't be terribly popular, but there was a line-up to jump!
In the other direction one has a great view of several waterfalls pouring over the cliff. 

We had lunch at this little Fonda in the local market building. It may once have served as a shopping Mecca but now it only has these small restaurants all seeing exactly the same food. 

We made it to the waterfall which has a hot springs operation and is something of an amusement park.
Witness these stuffed horses which are offered for photo opportunities for your children. And the dinosaur trolley in the background. 

Here we found a long line of washing tubs - inaugurated exactly two days before Geordie was born. Above him on the left the small stone tower bears the date of my year of birth, too. 

See - it says 1950. It's quite a lovely waterfall and there were lots of people out on Sunday enjoying the day. 

And the hot pools themselves. The water looks none to salubrious but it isn't smelly like some hot pools. 
Here is another representation of the Virgin of the holy water. 

And a view this morning of the hillside from the gallery of the church cloister which houses the quirky museum I promised to share. 

Here we have an image of the Virgin done completely in beans. 
And a quite nice painting with the Virgin hovering over the city. 

And another done as a floor rug. 

These trucks. 

These wooden figures representing the native population. 

And bird feather headdresses. 

Another erupting volcano. 

Typewriters, a vcr, a megaphone, a record player, and a 16 mm projector. Wedding dresses, confirmation dresses, a Valentine heart. 

And this delightful knitting grandma - who was housed with many more kitsch objects in the same vein. 

I'll leave you with this lovely painting, not in the museum but in the men's bathroom - done by Lorena, age 11. I actually think she has talent. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Quito Day 2

Today we managed to see three museums and not a single church (I lie). They were all interesting, but the first two were really quite superb. 

The first was the Casa Museo Maria Augusta Urratia, a philanthropist of the first order. Her family was very well off and she was the sole inheritor, when her parents died. Instead of throwing her money away she began to offer the poor children of Quito food to help them as well as providing education. She was very well educated herself and spoke three languages, Spanish, French and English. She entertained Presidents and high society but she did everything she could for the poor. When she died she left her entire estate to her foundation and the city. A very large park is another of her bequests still enjoyed by today's Quiteños. I could not take pictures inside her home which has many luxuries including gorgeous chandeliers but we were certainly impressed with her huge home and her legacy. 

The outdoor wood-fired cooking area. Inside was a gorgeous German made stove similar to the Aga range or the stoves of La Cornue. It was huge. But no pictures. Oh how I wanted to. 

Just a few of the utilitarian objects used in food prep. 

The courtyard was lovely and the well supplied water for the neighbourhood. 

Our next remarkable museum was the Museo de la Ciudad, another very large place over two floors and two buildings. 
Here is the central courtyard. 

And I guess you could say we were in a church - we were able to view the chapel attached to the building via the choir loft. 

Another angle showing the small side chapels. 

The museum attempted to show some aspects of daily life in the country. This was the interior of a thatched roof hut - full sized. 

A great graphic showing the building of the main church - the first one we toured yesterday. 

And this remarkable marquetry floor, a map of old Quito. 

Loved this turtle seat. 

And this oddity, a display of candle snuffers embedded in candle wax. 

This was a small display - the woman is perhaps five inches tall. I just liked the attitude of the llama. 

There was a great mirador from which we had an excellent view of the winged Virgn Mary. She stands high on a hill , a proud symbol of the city, and we were told that she is used to orient oneself. If you can see her face, you are looking south, if her back then you are looking north. A very lovely small version of this winged Virgin was in the first museum we toured. 

Some public art and a patio from the viewpoint. 

And for my crafting friends, a cabinet of supplies. 

The second half of the museum is the remains of a hospital that was in continuous use from the mid-1500's to 1974!

This mural on the back wall of one of the hospital wards shows the walled beds and also the religious nature of the hospital which was run by both male and female religious groups. 

Here's a mock-up of one of he patient niches. 

And a few surgical instruments - something of a matched set. 

The large patio outside the hospital served as the laundry area. There was also a crypt over where Geordie is walking. He was disappointed to find it closed. 

Attached at the back of the hospital was a very modern addition with this large scale sculpted head. There was also a pleasant coffee shop. 

And this view to the east. 

Along a narrow street below. 

Our third museum was the home of one of Ecuador's greatest heroes, the Mariscal Antonio Sucre who was a leader in the fight for independence. Before the dollar was made the official currency, one used sucres as the monetary unit. 
The great hero himself. 

Another gorgeous patoi. 

In this room we were surprised to see some unusual wall construction. The lattice work at the top is cane set in the plaster walls. It likely helped to keep the rooms cool and well aired. 

Oh, we did stop in at the cultural centre which also houses the municipal library. These bronze sculptures of printers at their presses was in the corridor. 

Ok, we didn't get to see the inside, but we did walk up to this church, La Merced, which held out the promise of interior paintings showing volcanoes erupting but it wasn't open so we had to be content with an outside view.
Which included this bell tower which legend says is the work of the devil! It's the tallest church tower in Quito apparently but has been locked for years. 

These steps led up to the side door of the church - volcanic stone.

No pictures, but tonight we went to the Hilton Colon where we met our friend Marje from Calgary, fresh from her visit to a cloud forest after 10 days in the Galapagos. Tomorrow she's off for a jungle adventure. We will meet her again in a few days and we will hang out together in a somewhat lower end hotel than the Hilton, but a little upscale from our Hotel Liz. We enjoyed some local food at a nearby restaurant. I'm sorry I didn't think to take photos, but my Seco de Chivo - a lamb stew was delicious. 

On another note - we took a taxi back to our hotel, but our taxi driver couldn't figure out how to get to it with the plethora of one way and blocked streets. He finally had to let us off to walk two blocks to our place. I don't think the taxi drivers at the Hilton often get to drive to our part of town. 

We are off to Baños next - to take the waters. Till then...