Day 2 – Quito, Ecuador Walking Tour
In the morning we received a buffet breakfast in the hotel. This was great because there was an international range to choose from, so you could find things like eggs, bacon, sausage, and cereal if you wanted it. But I decided to embrace Ecuador by trying the local fruits and kind humitas and tamales, which are both made with corn. It’s safe to say tamales weren’t to my appetite but, the humitas were quite nice and tasted a bit like cake. There was the option to eat popcorn for breakfast, which might seem bizarre in British culture but it was nice to be able to embrace local life from the very beginning of my time in Quito.
After breakfast, we went to see the monastery of Quito. Here we saw some beautiful gardens, which had an unfathomable amount of wildlife and flowers. We also heard Old Catholic stories and tales that many Ecuadorians are raised on, which gave more great insight into local life. Following this, we went to see a mass taking place in the church inside the monastery. We saw many local Ecuadorians at prayer, as well as some truly beautiful artistic architecture.
Next, we went to see Compania de Jesus Church. It was very majestic with gold just about everywhere - it was unreal. It was built in 1765, and we found out it is still a working church as well as an interesting tourist attraction. We were told stories about the construction of the church - which actually began in 1605 - and how much it impacted the local residents. Not only this but while we were here there was a wedding rehearsal taking place. We saw the bride and her father walking down the aisle, practising for the wedding that was due to take place. It made me think of how beautiful and stunning it would be to get married in a place like this. Anyone looking for a perfect fairy-tale wedding would be hard-pressed to find a better location.
Next, we took a journey up to the top of a hill. I say hill as that’s what the tour agents called it, but to me, it was a mountain. At the top was a huge statue of Mary - or, the Virgin of Quito. She stands proud on top of the devil in the form of a snake. Past the massive statue was a mesmerizing panoramic view of Quito. This was quite special.
This busy schedule filled our morning, and of course, by now we were eager for lunch! This turned out to be a wonderful, local gourmet spread. Being a buffet, this was a superb way to try things I wouldn’t normally be confident in trying. One of the things that stood out is how Ecuadorians seem to enjoy cheese with everything. There was a range of meat and fish served with cheese, pancakes with cheese inside, but my favourite was the desert. I had figs with a side of cheese. This is a delicacy in Quito. The figs are very sweet and almost taste a bit like liquorice. But the taste of the cheese compliments the figs perfectly. I don’t like liquorice much, but with the cheese accompanying it I really enjoyed it.
After lunch, we had a 50-minute coach journey to what was my favourite part of the day; The Equator and World Park Museum. Did you know, when you travel to the equator you actually lose weight because there is less gravitational pull?
The museum displayed how the two sides of hemisphere rotate in opposite directions through a globe. There was also the classic test with water in sinks. Water was released either side of the equator, and both lots drained through a plug, in opposite directions. Not only this, but a test was done over the equator itself, where the water fell straight through.
There were also other tricks displaying the magnetism of the equator. This included the fact that we could balance an egg on a nail, and struggled to actually walk in a straight line along the equator. It is a lot harder to do than you might think!
As well as this fascinating science, the museum also teaches about a range of animals that you would find in the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon, along with the tribes there. It was really very interesting; I learned that one tribe had for years been taking human skulls, and turning the piece of skin left into jewellery they’d wear around their necks. This finally stopped around the 1970s and now they use animals.
I really enjoyed the final activity, which was seeing the making of cocoa that Ecuador is famous for. We were able to try the cacao which is used to make chocolate - the natural seeds from the fruit are a lot more acidic than you’d imagine. I also tried the nibs that are created after fermenting, drying, roasting and crushing the cacao bean. These tasted like pure, dark chocolate.
Later on in the evening, we had a lovely gourmet dinner that was included. The day exceeded all expectations, and next, I was heading to the Galapagos Islands! Oh poor me, right?!
|A Galapagos diary: day one||A Galapagos diary: day three|