QUITO

Our primary reason for going to Ecuador was to visit the Galapagos Islands, but you can't get there without spending some time in either Quito or Guayaquil.  We were glad we decided on the former.  Although situated about 12 miles south of the equator, Quito has a moderate climate owing to its 6,000 foot elevation.  We arrived about 11:00 P.M. and the temperature was  40 degrees. Quito is in a valley surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes which are quite beautiful.  The city is divided in half:  Old Quito  is a World Heritage site featuring narrow winding streets and preserved colonial buildings,  and New Quito looks like any other large South American city with featureless buildings and lots of traffic.  New Quito does contain one not-to-be-missed venue, the Central Bank Museum, which houses the best collection of pre-Columbian art and artifacts in the world.  Unfortunately, photography is not allowed.  The Ecuadorian people are very friendly, the official currency is the US dollar, and things are generally pretty cheap.

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Saturday market in the old city.

San Francisco church - oldest in the Americas.

The principal government building in Ecuador.

This square is the hub of Old Quito.

 

The Equator

For a lark, we took the public bus to the Monument at the Center of the World.  This 45 minute ride cost 40 cents and was a real experience.  Musicians and vendors jump on the bus and ride for one stop selling everything from cookbooks to Chiclets. The monument commemorates a French expedition which came to Ecuador in the 18th century to mark latitude 0-0-0.  The yellow line on the pavement marks the equator.

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The monument is convenient to Quito, but the spot where the French actually made their measurements is located about 30 miles outside of town.  There is a marker there (shown below) but is not too impressive.  Kissing from one hemisphere to the other is obligatory.

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Otavalo

This is the market center for the indigenous craftsmen.  It is located about two hours outside of Quito.  In addition to the market, we visited some villages observing some craftsmen weaving and others making Christmas decorations from bread.  We also found an internet cafe.

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