We left Spanish class an hour early this afternoon in order to ‘hop on’ the hop on hop off bus for tourists in Quito. We weren’t necessarily planning on hopping on and off throughout the day, but wanted to ride it around to get a different perspective of the city. I was pleasantly surprised when it circled up to the top of El Panecillo and stopped for thirty minutes for passengers to walk around the Virgin Mary Statue overlooking Quito. We did end up hopping out to see the interior of the Basílica del Voto Nacional and before we were ready to leave the skies broke open unleashing a torrential downpour on us. Who knew that Quito would be so cold (thanks to the altitude) with such temperamental weather (in October)? We didn’t. And I was cold a lot of the time. We had plans to walk around Quito, but the cold rain canceled those plans and instead we spent an hour trying to flag down a taxi back to our guesthouse instead.
We hopped on the bus at the Mariscal stop and rode past the El Ejido, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, and past La Basílica, which you can see below. For some reason Quito’s hop on hop off bus experience seemed a little different than those in other cities that we have been on one of those buses. Maybe because it seemed like there was less to really see and take in from the bus? It was still interesting, but just a little different. I most enjoyed the sprawl of the city because the buildings were so colorful and seemed to stand out against each other beautifully.
We drove around and up to El Panecillo, a volcanic hill where a statue rests at the top overlooking the city. It’s a beautiful view, and if you are feeling risky, you could walk up to the peak, although it’s not recommended as it has a reputation of being the most dangerous area of the city. The top is calm and other tourists milled about. My favorite part? The empanadas that were made to order. I have to say after nearly two months in South America, this was the first time I’ve had a fresh empanada and it was pretty life changing. Lightyears different than an empanada that has been sitting in a bakery for a few hours. Oh my yum. Go try one. Figure out how to make one. You must try one.
After El Panecillo, we rode back down through Quito, through the Plaza Grande and then we hopped off at García Moreno Park to check out the inside of the Basílica del Voto Nacional. It’s a huge, yet rather dark church. There’s a smaller alter, or if it’s possible another basilica within the church itself? I’m not sure of the technicalities of it all- but contrary to the rest of the church, it was beautiful and much more ornate. Unfortunately there were a few “no photo” signs throughout, and I abided by them.
We tried to wait out the rain. We even ran down the street in the middle of it to get a hot chocolate to try to wait it out even more. It was relentless. We gave up. Everyone else in the historical center must have given up as well, because it proved impossible to catch a cab. By the time we made it back to our equally cold guesthouse, we discovered a leak in the ceiling, one that was dripping water directly on our bed. One not so quick room change later, we were tucking into a bowl of mac and cheese and watching The Walking Dead. Yes my friends, we found mac and cheese in Ecuador, and it was glorious. Ok to be fair, I think the water messed up the noodles a bit, but I didn’t care. And next to it, cheddar cheese and crackers. Because obviously we were going for a well rounded meal. Oh right, and we miss cheese.