Monday, August 02, 2010


We spent six nights in Quito altogether, so I'd like to think we got to know the city at least well enough to give directions to other tourists.

We spent most of our sightseeing time in Old Town Quito, which reminds me a lot of other Latin American cities I've visited. Lots of colonial buildings, cobblestone streets, beautiful churches. I liked the atmosphere of Quito--quite cosmopolitan but still retaining a specific Ecuadorean flavor. I can't say exactly what that flavor was, but I appreciated that it wasn't too gringo-fied (except for the Mariscal, which is also known as "Gringolandia" by locals) and wasn't too generic.

Saturday night out in Old Town was by far my favorite Quito adventure. After dinner in the Plaza de San Francisco we pretty much just followed the live music and it took us to all kinds of exciting places. Most exciting was a dance party (and firework lighting extravaganza) in the courtyard of the Monasterio de Carmen Alto. The event was packed with people and families of all ages, and everyone was dancing to the live band. At some point a few women walked around giving out little tupperwares of food. We were offered alcohol by not once, but twice. First by a little old man with a beer pitcher full of canelazo, second by a middle-aged man carrying a 1-liter water bottle filled with Kool-aid blue liquid. Each man had a shot glass and would pour a sip for someone and move on. We declined, but the kids doing shots of the blue stuff seemed to enjoy it so maybe it was alright.

The one thing I do not have photos of, but am completely fascinated by, is the street vendors. There are the usual booths selling snacks and magazines, but then there are the ones that start to get a little hard to understand. Is there really a big market for selling CDs out of a booth on the street i.e. do people walk around with their Discmans thinking "Man I'm sick of this song. Oh good, I can buy some new tunes right here"? Is a blanket on the street really the best place to sell (and buy) batteries? My two favorite vendors both only had three items--not three types of merchandise, but only three discrete objects that were available.
-Vendor 1: A bathroom scale and two old used books. I did not inquire whether all were available for purchase and/or whether the books were related to weight issues. My hope was that his gig was weighing people and then using that number for some sort of numerology that he would seek out in the books.
-Vendor 2: A painting of the Last Supper, a painting of a unicorn, and a watch. I couldn't come up with a good back story for him.

Here, my photos of Quito. It's worth clicking on the album so you can zoom in on a few of the pictures.

(As always, click on the slide show for access to the album and corresponding captions)

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