First full day in Quito and Ecuador for Gwen and Pat so it was off to explore the old historical part of Quito on foot. There is much to see and do all around where we are staying at the Hotel San Francisco de Quito. The parks, the central squares, the museums and church’s are all beautiful with some of the buildings over 500 years old. The oldest church in Quito took 70 years to build followed by a major renovation hundreds of years later due to an earthquake.
In the “Grande Square” Gwen was approached by a beggar holding out his hand, she was just sitting down for a smoke so offered one to the beggar who declined by giving the cigarette back. Shortly after a shoeshine boy requested to shine Gwen’s shoes and asked $2 which I explained to Gwen that it was about $1.50 too much. He seemed to have problems matching the shoe colour so requested help from his cohorts (pic) soon Gwen had 4 young lads doing their best to destroy her shoes. Her shoes went from dirty tan to blotchy cream and tan. I think she ended up paying a dollar just so they would stop wrecking her shoes further.
Of course being the first lunch in Ecuador what better place to have lunch then at a pizza place – actually quite good – and of course the required beer to keep one hydrated.
After the siesta we grabbed a cab and tried to get to El Panecillo – La Virgen de Quito. This is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary and the only one in the world where she has wings. Unfortunately traffic was so bad and so slow that I got out and walked up to find that there was parade / festival going on and hundreds of people were leading the hundreds of cars up to the Panecillo. Quickly turned the taxi driver around and then asked him to take us to the newer part of Quito. Thirty minutes later we ended up back in Historic Central near our hotel with the taxi driver not sure where we wanted to go. Jumped out of cab and walked to the hotel. Hoping to find a place to eat nearby we found that by 6:30 almost everything had closed or was closing. With everyone getting tired it was a quick stop at TIA (grocery store chain) to buy supplies for ham sandwich’s to tide us over until our trip to Salinas tomorrow.