The weather is Quito is remarkably wonderful: 65-70F by day and 45-50F by night. Kathy and I stroll the streets past Ecuadorians in native dress and others in modern dress selling all sorts of items: plastic sleeves filled with apples or pears; lima beans in boxes; multi-colored shawls; bowler hats; ice cream and back scratchers, to name a few. The city is alive with people. Cars and buses vie with people in the narrow streets, the sidewalks being packed. El Centro is filled with colonial buildings, most in good repair and many quite handsome. Surprisingly, we do not find pharmacies or banks–which have been a constant presence in every country we have visited over the past several years.
The Church of the Society of Jesus, locally called, “la Compañía,” is our must-see for the day. To say that it is exquisite would be an understatement. Begun in the early 1600s, it is a baroque masterpiece. Considered one of the most beautiful churches in South America, its baroque splendor easily rivals its counterparts in Europe. Intricately carved and gold-leafed from floor to ceiling, with porcelain statuary adorning the altars, the church is a jaw-dropper. The ten side altars blend harmoniously into the whole, leading to the main altar. The gold ceiling reflects the light making a golden hue that gives a heavenly feel. We sit for a least an hour in silent contemplation of the faith that would produce such beauty.
We also amble through the Central Bank Museum, proof that banks do exist somewhere in Ecuador. It tells the story of coin minting, with artifacts, through the centuries in Ecuador.
Our hotel has pure hot water dispensers and anis tea. The tea helps with acclimating to the altitude and it works! Both Kathy and I are feeling good, maybe even exhilarated! Hmm, is it really anis tea? WEG