This was the day we started in Tonsupa on the coast so literally at sea level, then drove out of the rain forest of the coastal lowlands to Quito, the capital city, in the Sierra (Andean highlands). Quito is at 9350 feet but we were a little higher than that since the pass we traversed overlooked the city.
We were in the rain forest for most of the day. The highway we followed passed through a lot of little towns, each with at least one set of speed bumps where people waited with fruit and other stuff on sale, running up to cars which are never making a complete stop. Seems like a tough way to make living.
The houses were mostly right up on the road, on the narrow strip of land between road and edge of the mountain. It reminded me of roads I’ve driven through the Appalachians where the houses are also right up on the road with a sheer drop behind, although the architecture is of course quite different.
Nearly every house had four or five chickens in the yard, a dog or two, and a pig.
I took a lot of pictures that didn’t turn out because I insist on using a crappy camera through the dirty window of a moving bus. Somehow my husband’s pics from his cell phone look like he was standing on the street with a tripod. (Most of these are his. *sigh*. I saw cool stuff too).
Town on the river. I tried to take a pic of the houses that didn’t come out. Closer to the bridge they were built right up to the water like they do on the Ganges.
I think this is the same town…
We stopped for lunch in a town called Mindo, a touristy place with lots of Europeans roaming the streets. Parts were quite lush…
…and it was Disneyland-clean and maintained…
…but with more of those ubiquitous stray dogs. This one followed us about because one of us had food in his hand. He was a cool dog though, check out those Batman ears.
After lunch we kept climbing higher and higher. We got into the clouds before we even left the rain forest.
Then we reached the edge of the green and everything was suddenly brown. And we’re looking down at Quito:
We went all the way down into downtown, specifically la Calle de Las Siete Cruces (because it has seven churches).
I might be misremembering which one is which, it was late when we got there so we didn’t go inside any of them, but I think this is the one that is all gold on the inside:
The streetlights really messed with my camera so most of what I saw I didn’t get a good pic of. We did see the Plaza Grande and the Carondelet Palace. Our guide/host pointed out that “you can still see the bullet holes in the walls from the last coup”, which I’m filing under things I didn’t hear last year when I was touring DC (of course the British once set the White House on fire, but we didn’t go on that tour).
In this picture if you look down the street you can just make out an illuminated statue on a peak overlooking the city. It’s called the Virgin of Panecillo and despite the late hour we really wanted a closer look at that.
The Panecillo is a hill that tops out at 9895 feet, and the view from up there is amazing.
We were told that this was an Incan sundial, but Wikipedia disputes this. Either way, cool.
Quito is very different from Quayaquil, like Chicago compared to DC (probably I’m thinking that because I visited both those cities on the same trip last year, but still, I think it’s valid). I wish we could have gotten more time downtown, it looked like there were tons of things to see, all those churches just to start with. I guess we’re going to have to go back someday…