And on blogging
I started telling you about our 3rd day in Quito because I had just experienced it and was still feeling so HIGH from the whole experience but I must also tell you about the rest of Quito in words and in pictures, of course.
Here's what I had written in my diary.
WELCOME TO QUITO
A gruelsome 8 hour overnight journey on a very bumpy bus. My head hit the ceiling of the bus 3 times it was so crazy. And I spent the entire journey holding on to Brel (sprawled all over me, asleep) with my dear life. As we got closer and closer to Quito, it got freezing cold inside the bus ... and so the shivering began and Brel also became my blanket and I spread all the clothes I had on hand to cover his entire body. Arghhh sooo uncomfortable the whole thing!
Arrived at the Quito bus terminal just passed 5 am. Pitch dark, rain and men in dressed in black from head to toe (including face masks through which only their eyes were visible) AND FULLY ARMED. That's just no way to make someone feel welcomed here. SHIT! Not reassuring at all after the countless stories I have heard (all sorts of armed robberies) from fellow travellers and warnings read all over my guidebook. It was clear now. This city is dangerous.
Hopped in a cab. That in itself is always dangerous but what could I do? Every move you make is a risk here. I just keep those eyes open all the time, hang on to Brel and hope everything will be alright. And my risks are always calculated. We made it to the hostal. Slept in till noon. Brel woke up in pieces and we both had bad headaches. To be expected ... Quito is 2850m above sea level.
Took it really easy all day. Walked very slowly up and down the amazingly narrow colonial streets of the old town. Incredible views of the mountains, the crowded houses in pastel colours, clumped by colour. Somewhat like the clothes at the Salvation Army. Pink houses clustered together, then the blue group, the yellow ... GORGEOUS!
My guide says that the old town is A MAZE OF COLONIAL SPLENDOR and that it is! TO WALK ITS NARROW STREETS IS TO WANDER INTO ANOTHER WORLD. Oh yes!
The ANDES (finally we're here) are always present and nothing is flat. The houses make me think of x-mas gifts piled up under the tree; different sizes all wrapped up in a multitude of colour. I keep on getting flashes of Louise Nevelson's boxes/sculptures. Maybe she came here for inspiration! (Tried to paste one of her pieces here but was unable to, sorry).
Arrived at PLAZA GRANDE. It's the center of the Old Town. Almost as beautiful as the Grand Place in Bruxelles but here it is clear that religion occupies a much more important place. Cathedrals, churches, crosses and all kinds of museums. And sadly, lots of little children shoe shining.
And a fabulous internet cafe. Finally a fast connection. For 3 weeks we tried connecting on the coast. A nightmare! They are connected to internet through their mobile phones. You just can't imagine how long it took just to log on to gmail...and to get to my blog, I won't tell you the frustration. So here we were able to upload photos!!!
And then for my sweet Brel who really deserved it... a movie. I had promised him that we would go to the cinema as soon as we got to a city. And this day was perfect for it since he wasn't feeling 100%. We took the TROLEY, a sort of bus on rails, to see LOS REYES DE LA OLAS in spanish of course (no subtitles) and Brel needed NO TRANSLATION.
DAY 2 IN QUITO
At breakfast we met an Italian that doesn't speak english or french. Our only common language was spanish. How funny is that? Long conversations between 2 Quebecois and 1 italian in SPANISH!!! He learned spanish In Buenas Aires and so his accent in spanish is quite funny and charming. Made Brel laugh a lot. Decided to walk back to the Old Town together.
Brel and I had a rendez-vous with ART. A fabulous ANDY WARHOL exhibition at the CENTRO CULTURAL METROPOLITANO was waiting for us. Oh art ... how good it felt, and they did such an amazing job!!! They recreated the FACTORY (his studio, meeting place for "happenings"), showed sculptures, films, book editions and lots of silskscreened series. Although I'm not a huge fan, I seem to meet Warhol on all my big trips. Even saw him in Sante Fe on my roadtrip to Mexico 2 years ago. I loved his illustrated silkscreened recipes. Lush colours and an edible line. Gorgeous and tasty.
An afternoon walk to the MARISCAL (considered extremely dangerous after dark in my Lonely Planet). Not interesting. Hostal after hostal, restaurants (for tourists), and evrything else tourists might need and want. Not of much interest until we landed in front of the MINDALAE (Ethnic museum of Ecuadorian artesanias). INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE THERE!!!! We had our own guided tour of this fabulous magical place in spanish (for our italian friend) and learned a ton of stuff about the shamans, textiles, weavings, pottery, hats, arms, animals, basketry ... The museum is completely new, not even a year old yet, not in the guides but what a treat it is. Beautiful building and incredible displays that through the light (and lack of when necessary) really recreated the magical ritual atmosphere. Sorry, no pictures allowed. Many little ceramic figures blew my mind. A KICHUA goddess who devoured all the men she slept with (had a second mouth hidden at the back of her head) was definitely my favourite. And the textiles- woven belts that indicate if a woman is single, still able to bear children ...And the beaded necklaces which depending on how many times they are wrapped around the woman's neck, indicate her status. So much info in their dress. Everything is coded, filled with symbols and meaning. Nothing is empty here.
Back to the internet cafe (the blogging takes hours I have to admit) and home in a taxi. I have to admit that I constantly feel the danger here, especially at night. There are armed policias EVERYWHERE.
Off to OTAVALO today (2 hours north) where Brel and I will take an intensive one week (4 hours a day) spanish private class and live with a family. Exciting! Brel says we should meet the family first before deciding to do the HOMESTAY so that we can choose to stay in a hostal instead if it doesn't seem so great. Not a bad idea. We'll keep you posted.
One last thing ... ABOUT BLOGGING. I have to admit that it is taking over my life. Won`t let me sleep anymore. It's too exciting. I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas, stories to tell and they keep me up because sentences run around in my head... and I don't want to forget...and i don't want to turn the light on to write everything down because I don't want to wake Brel up. I think of details and details that I see that I can`t capture with the camera. When will there be computers in front of which you can just sit and all that info in your head will just enter slowly, in detail with you just having to concentrate on the thoughts, the info ??? Somebody please help me. I can't type or write as fast as I think at the moment and I am blogging constantly (in my head). Arghhhhh.
Besos de Quito