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SOUTH AMERICA 12/09

Buenos Aires | Iguaza |  Mendosa | To Bariloche | Bariloche Day 1 | Bariloche Day 2 | To Ushuaia | Ushuaia
Voyage on the Beagle Day 1 | Voyage on the Beagle Day 2 | Santiago de Chile Day 1 | Santiago de Chile Day 2
Santiago to Quito | Galapagos Day 1 | Galapagos Day 2 | Galapagos Day 3
Return to Quito Day 1 | Return to Quito Day 2
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19 December 2009      Return to Quito - Day 1

We arrived at Quito an hour late during the first rain storm they have had this season. It is also supposed to rain tomorrow. But of course!

Before checking into our hotel, we took a tour of a very small portion of the city. Quito is 35 miles long and no wider in any place than 4 miles. It's located in a valley between the Andes Mountains. It was pretty rainy and foggy but we valiantly went along as if everything was sunny and bright. The literal high point in the city proper is, again, in this most Catholic of countries, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The interesting thing about this statute is that Mary is depicted as an angel with wings. The Mary statue is permanent but every Christmas, a manger scene is created around Mary. She's about six stories tall, and the 3 wise men and Joseph are about that size as well. They are constructed with metal tubing and around them webs of small lights are draped. The whole scene is quite visible from the city area where we are, at least a mile away.

We dropped down from the mountain and because it was getting late and dark, went directly to the old town and Main Square. There are several churches within a couple of blocks of one another. We were only able to get into one as this is the Christmas season and the other large church closed early to hand out food and gifts to the poor, who were lined up with their children outside of the church.

Hundreds of years ago, when the Spanish priests converted "the indigenous" in any area they went to, they mixed the native places of worship, religious icons, and ceremonies in with Catholic dogma. I found the statutes, which are typically carved in solid marble in Western Catholic churches, interesting. If everything isn't covered in gold leaf, it's made with silver. The use of small pieces of mirror makes the glow effect even stronger.

Our hotel was crowded with Christmas parties and weddings. We sat in the first floor informal dining room and looked out into a very busy central square. Hundreds of people passed by either on their way home from Christmas shopping, on their way to a wedding or a party somewhere, or on their way to the mountain with the winged Mary we visited earlier. Our guide said that for nine days before Christmas, people make daily trips to the Mary statue to both pray and to spend time with friends. In addition to all the pedestrians, the square was under the watchful eye of an impressive number of police and army personnel stationed around the perimeter. We wanted to go out after supper to take pictures of the lighting ceremony on the mountain but were warned not to stray too far as this time of year brings out the pickpockets in force. Right down the square from the entrance to the hotel was a group of men singing with a man playing a version of a guitar. So, the central square is an interesting mix of the completely charming, and, with the pickpockets, the unfortunate.

One of the things that really struck Carol is the vegetation in the city. Remember, Quito is 9,000 feet high and it's winter now. However, in the square right outside our hotel, there are coconut palms, yes, coconut palms! (Vendors sell coconuts along the highways too.) There are also hibiscus trees, not just bushes (one thinks of hibiscus as a Hawaiian flower) as well as daisies and lilies, all blooming right now. In addition, Ecuador is one of the largest growers of roses in the world and supplies flower markets all over the world. On our way to the market tomorrow we hope to go past some of the rose growing areas.

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Buenos Aires | Iguaza |  Mendosa | To Bariloche | Bariloche Day 1 | Bariloche Day 2 | To Ushuaia | Ushuaia
Voyage on the Beagle Day 1 | Voyage on the Beagle Day 2 | Santiago de Chile Day 1 | Santiago de Chile Day 2
Santiago to Quito | Galapagos Day 1 | Galapagos Day 2 | Galapagos Day 3
Return to Quito Day 1 | Return to Quito Day 2


HOME  |  AUSTRALIA 2003  |  ACROSS AMERICA  |  IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA  |  VIETNAM  |  AFRICA  |  AROUND THE WORLD 2009  |  SOUTH AMERICA 2009  |  LEGENDARY CULTURES 2011
  |  TURKEY AND GREECE  |  CIRCLE THE ARCTIC