This time – in Quito, Ecuador . . Followed by a week in the Galápagos Islands. We’re pretty excited to be on vacation! 😀
We flew from Miami yesterday. Doug, Martha, John, and Laurie came in from Boston. Arrived at 9:30 . .didn’t get to the hotel until close to 11:00. Pretty late for the Jojo! And – you’ll be interested to know that we were all fever tested as we went through customs . . . . Our hotel is amazing. In the old part of town . . With views over all the hillsides. The building was constructed in 1834 for a wealthy family. 15 years ago, it was renovated into this lovely hotel! Along the drive here, our guide, Freddie, threw lots of very interesting info at us about his country. Most of it not overly positive. Corruption at the top is rampant!
Some things we learned
Back in the day, there were never any documents given to folks who built houses or businesses . So there was often much dishonesty as estates were settled. As the new presidents have attempted to make things more honest, the lawyers have begun to Gerry rig documents, keeping much of the proceeds for themselves (Freddie doesn’t think many of the lawyers here are all that honest . .) So many of the huge mansions are now owned by wealthy lawyers . . 🤔
Minimum wage is is $2 an hour. Most people can hope to make $400 a month.
All services are free but not overly accessible. Immigration from other South American countries is a huge issue because these people need all the services that Equador can hardly provide to their own citizens . . . There are lots of inequities. Like Ecuadorian students have to achieve a certain score on an entrance exam to be allowed entrance into the university. Students from Venezuela get right in – no exam required. Freddie thinks there might have been some drug cartel intrigue going on here . . Medical students must get a very high score.
The road systems here are rather good and fairly advanced. Built by the Chinese. And – Equador must pay very high fees to China for this service . . . 😳
So we went on a walking tour of the Quito city center this morning . . Lots of steep hills and many steps . . . We passed by several big squares where there were people deep in conversation and pigeons everywhere . . One big square used to house a major market – but all the stuff that was being sold consisted of items that had been stolen from tourists . . This market has been shut down! 😀
We passed tons of indigenous folks selling things along the streets . . Fruit – corn – scarfs – toys . . These people often sit with their children and they do not appreciate anyone taking a photo of them Doug found this out in no uncertain terms when one woman threw a potato at him at close range! 🙁
We toured lots of beautiful and very ornate churches . . (Tom – you might have gone on your own walk through town today). Freddie knows so much history . . These guides are so well educated. They always speak several languages and have a great foundation in history. Fun to be learning something other than political stuff! 🙂 🙂
Being president over here can be downright dangerous! Freddie told us several stories about past presidents who had fallen out of favor. One guy was pushed off a balcony into the street where another fellow sliced off his head with a bayonet! Another unpopular president was incinerated! Doesn’t sound like much fun . . .
From Quito center, we drove up and over a few mountains to the exact spot where the equator is located – or as close as they can decifer . . . We had a very interesting tour with a local guide who really taught us a lot about all things equator! Also about local people’s and their customs, animals, foods . .
And then it was time for lunch – at a local place. We had the daily special – papaya juice, a local sausage with lime/cilantro sauce, potato and beef vegetable soup, sea bass with rice, salad, and fried yucca, with lemon cake for dessert. All for $4 a person! Can’t beat that in the old U.S. of A!
Adter lunch, we drove back to Quito and toured this huge basilica! Incredible building with lots of ornate animals along the sides . . We climbed tons and tons of stairs. Bear in mind that Quito is 9350 feet above sea level. We are not yet acclimated and we huff and puff on the uphills . . . Also – some of the steps up were like a ladder with very steep steps . . Sometimes I wonder if I’m asking too much of this 75 year old body . . . There were beautiful views of the city from the top, however, and I’m glad I summoned the courage . . .
We’re currently back at our lovely hotel, resting up a bit and looking forward to happy hour downstairs in this lovely lobby Tomorrow we hike up to Cotopaxi Vocano . . Or as high as our lungs will allow . . . That goes up to a mere 14,000 feet . . And that’s just to the refuge center . . Expecting maybe snow up there so we’ll see how it goes