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The Beautiful Quito

ECUADOR | Tuesday, 31 December 2013 | Views [1105] | Comments [1]

I could definitely get used to waking up to the sounds of roosters. It’s just like I always imagined as a kid! Sure, 5:45 came around early, but the quiet, beautiful city made it all worth it. Christine and I went to Mass at the church down the street at 6:30. I believe it was called the church of St. Francis, but I’m not sure; the Ecuadorians don’t put huge signs next to the door of the church like the Italians do. When we walked in, we quickly realized that they were half way through the preparation of the gifts. Apparently Mass started at 6:00 and not at 6:30. Oops! Nonetheless, we were warmly welcomed by an old gentleman sitting in the back row and got to participate in the rest of the Mass. I even understood some of what they were saying! It amazed me that even in Ecuador, the Mass is the same. What a beautiful witness to our faith. After Mass, Christine and I wandered around Otavalo for the last time before going back to the hotel. The community we witnessed as people were attending Mass and setting up their market stands for the day was refreshing. It was a witness to the family like unity that still exists in our world.

After getting stranded outside of our locked hotel for a good fifteen minutes, we made our way to breakfast. Real pineapple juice, fresh bread, and scrambled eggs were ready when we arrived. Soon after, we loaded the bus for Quito. This two-hour drive seemed boring until we made a stop. We were at the equator. I was ready for a touristy spot with tons of people, but our tour guide took us to a different site. This location, we were told, was the middle of the earth. Since this spot was in the Andes, it offered many opportunities for interesting research about the earth. We even learned that we’ve been viewing the world the wrong way. Who knew! After getting the cheesy pictures, we got back on our bus and continued our journey to Quito.

Quito was NOT what I was expecting. Talk about a country full of diversity. We came from the indigenous town of Otavalo where the people ran markets and lived modestly, and to be honest, I expected Quito to be much of the same thing. When I woke up from my nap—I have a habit of falling asleep on buses—I saw many high-rises, modern buildings and very nice apartments. The mall we stopped at for lunch even had a Tiffany’s across the hall from a KFC. It was evident that we were in for a whole different experience.

Our first stop was the museum. We saw the work of the famous artist Oswaldo Guayasamin. This man was distraught over all of the tragedies that were occurring in the world around him. He experienced World Wars I and II, Vietnam, and many others. The paintings and sculptures depicted the emotions of the people ranging from hopeful, to hopeless, to angry, and sad. It was a beautiful depiction of humanity. Although it was difficult to understand most of what the tour guide was saying, a simple phrase translated by our tour guide Austin made the paintings come alive.

Finally, we went on our city tour. Quito is so beautiful! The city is literally built in the mountains surrounded by volcanoes. The churches, government buildings, and houses were built over gullies via arch like supports. I have to admit, I was in seventh heaven because we finally got to hear more about Ecuadorians and their Roman Catholic faith. First, we saw the Basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This huge gothic church stood high and strong right on the boarder of the old and new Quito. The influence of the Galapagos Islands was evident, and I loved that the crucifix, Sacred Heart painting and Our Lady of Guadalupe picture were all lit up with blinking lights. It’s strange for us Americans, but definitely something you see all over Ecuador. The lights illuminate what they see as most important. One last thing about that Basilica: there was a window at the entrance shaped like a heart. Through that window, you could see a giant statue of Mary on the top of a small volcano located in the middle of Quito. Take this as you will, but to me it was a reminder of how important Mary is to us as a church. She is our mother and protector, always watching over us.

Next we visited the Plaza of Dead Pigeons. Yes, dead pigeons. The square was surrounded by the home of the president, significant churches, and old colonial houses. This is a square in which people could come to perform whether they were a clown, a musician, or a passionate speaker. You could see the excitement among the people and the energy all around. I laughed when I saw an obelisque in the square. Italy found me! Actually though, they imported this statue from Italy piece by piece. After leaving the plaza, we saw  the local monastery and what the Ecuadorians call the Church of Gold, because the inside was literally covered in gold. Both churches had stunning interiors and great stories to go along with them. Lastly, we went up onto the Mary volcano where you could see all of Quito. It was again, SUCH an amazing site.  You could see all the sites that we had visited, buildings for miles and miles, and then beyond that, the mountains. It was a great way to end the day.

As we arrived back at Hotel Quito (which was definitely one of the nicest hotels I’ve stayed at), we ate dinner and called it a night. Right now I am sitting in my hotel room attempting to stay awake to read the last few pages of the textbook. I’m so excited to see what the rest of this trip has in store. Two days until we meet our host families!

Tags: city tour, dead pigeons, jesus, museum

Comments

1

I didn't realize you were locked out of the hotel! I hope you were able to use the time and make some casual observations about the start of the day in Ecuador.

  Marianne Jan 7, 2014 5:29 AM

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