Sorry about the extreme time between posts. I am attempting to get my kitchen done by Thanksgiving (probably not going to happen but a girl can dream) and it’s the busiest season of the year in advertising so I’ve done about three weeks of work in two weeks. I’m so exhausted I did the creepiest thing ever this past Saturday night. I asked Cricket if when I came over to his house we could have a fire in his fireplace. He obliged, put some logs in there and got a fire going. I proceeded to get two grocery bags filled to the brim with his recyclable mail, sit directly in front of the fireplace on the floor and burn each piece of mail individually over the next THREE HOURS while saying nothing. I was simply decompressing but I imagine it looked like I was hiding the evidence of the murder I had recently committed. Cricket fell asleep on the couch watching me do this stellar performance art and when he woke up he said, “Okay, well, I’m going hiking tomorrow so I’m going to bed. When you’re done doing whatever it is you’re doing let yourself out through the back door. Night night.” About twenty minutes later (that would be 1:30 in the morning) after I had reduced all Cricket’s recyclables to ash I quietly left. My point is that I’m very busy and very stressed and with the first opportunity I got in the last few weeks to relax I decided not to go to a movie or catch up with a friend but to become a character in a Korean horror film. So please cut me some slack. Okay. Back to South America.
Quito! It’s pronounced Kee-toe, not Kwee-toe. It’s a big city, I think about 34 miles long, nestled in a long valley between a whole bunch of mountains.
And it’s got a massive basilica. More on that in a bit. But as you can see it makes an excellent landmark.
Another great landmark is the angel made of aluminum perched on one of the mountains. It was a gift from the French. One thing you can say about the French – they love to give massive metal statues to other nations.
Quito has a few major town squares which are wonderful. Often bands are playing and there are all kinds of food vendors. One food I saw being peddled by quite a few women looked like a pile of frosting in a Tupperware. I found out later that it was called espumilla (which means “foam”) and it’s a meringue of sorts made with guava and egg whites. I did not feel comfortable buying a bunch of uncooked egg from a street vendor who had been carrying it around all day in the bright sunlight but I won’t say I wasn’t tempted.
And there’s a ton of other snacks one could enjoy. And toilet paper (in case you ate the raw egg whites).
Back to the town squares.
Almost all of them have a church in them and we visited two. The first one, the Church of San Francisco, had a pretty nice exterior and even though we weren’t supposed to take pictures inside I surreptitiously snapped a few pics because the ceiling had just been redone due to a fire and the amount of gold was crazy. These are not great pics. It was so shiny and reflective my poor lil camera didn’t have a clue how to calibrate itself but at least you get a vague idea.
I thought that was as fancy as it got, church-wise. I was incorrect. This is the Church of the Jesuits. It’s down the street.
Look at the level of detail. And the awesome fish that flank the doorway.
I didn’t take any pictures inside because I had to scrape my mouth off the floor, but I found some other people’s pictures. And none of them do it justice. It was overwhelmingly amazing. Like being inside a jewel box.
Interestingly, we were there on a Saturday and every Saturday the President of Ecuador comes out on his balcony and makes a speech and we ended up outside his house about a half-an-hour before speech time. Our guide for the day asked us if we’d like to watch the speech and we were like, sure, we’re here, let’s see this all go down. The speech itself was whatevs but the fancy military men on equally fancy horses were delightful. One horse had a checkerboard shaved into its rump. I liked that a lot.
We ended up going to a very posh hotel for lunch were we drank a local drink, basically a tisane of sorts made up of a variety of flavorful herbs and reb quinoa. The red quinoa both imparts a pretty color and makes the drink have protein. Protein water!
Now the Basilica. The Basilica, compared to the gold churches, was pretty low-key. It’s a big ole cathedral-type building and the inside is very high and lofty and gray stone except for the small chapel off to the side which is polychrome, meaning the stone was painted.
The part of the Basilica that makes it awesome is that all the gargoyles are indigenous animals from Ecuador! How many pictures did I take of them? All the pictures. There were iguanas and turtles:
And monkeys and pumas and what I thought were giant crab claws from a distance but when I got closer I realized were anteaters:
Armadillos and crocodiles.
On the exterior of the painted chapel (which I imagine was built later because it’s made out of a different type of stone) there are regular gargoyles.
After walking around the Basilica several times, I noticed that you could go beneath into the catacombs. Hooray, catacombs! Those were amazing. It seems like it was filled predominantly in the 1950s, 60s and 70s and the design elements on the fronts of the tombs reflect the aesthetic of the time.
Coming up next: The Galapagos. Get pumped because lava and beasties a-comin.’