Sunday, November 28, 2010

Quito, Day 3, Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 3 started out very early for Ken.  At 5 AM he went to pray the rosary in the Quito's historic district with Andres's father.  On the 20th of every month, the people of Quito pray a "Rosary at Dawn" in honor of La Dolorosa (aka Our Lady of Sorrows...aka Our Lady of Quito).  On April 20th, 1906 Our Lady opened and closed her eyes for more than twenty minutes before the amazed gaze of forty students of the College of San Gabriel.

I found this picture on-line as we were not allowed to take pictures when we saw her.  To read more about Our Lady of Good Success click here.  Ken said that there were about 100 people in the procession.  They carried a picture of La Dolorosa and many people dropped flower petals along the way.  The procession leader used a loudspeaker so all could hear the rosary.  Could you imagine people praying the rosary in the U.S. streets at 5AM with a loudspeaker?  How wonderful!  Below are some pictures Ken took of the procession.
Rose petals everywhere!

Ken brought home 3 roses for his "girls".
 Ken returned to the hotel and took a little rest. 
Meghan examined the guide map before we started on the day's adventures.

We saw many women working while wearing their babies on their backs as we drove out of Quito.

We spent the rest of the day travelling to and from a city called Otavalo.
(Click the picture to make the map larger.  I circled Quito and Otavalo in red.)
We hired a tour guide named Nelson from the hotel.  He spoke English very well and was an excellent guide.  During the 2 hour ride to Otavalo, Nelson pointed out the many flower farms Ecuador is known for.

Meghan snoozed on the way.

I tried to take as many pictures as I could from the car window.  The roads are very narrow and wind through the mountains of Ecuador.  When I saw something to take a picture of, we were past it by the time I got the camera ready.  As a result, I have a lot of pictures of the guard rails in Ecuador.

The valleys were lined with flower farms. We never actually saw flowers, just fields.

These plants are used to make tequila.  However, we were never served tequila in Ecuador.  Everyone seemed to prefer whiskey.
Beautiful mountains.
Not the greatest picture due to the glare of the car window, but these cave-looking things are carved by the farmers that work nearby.  The residents scrape the stone from the mountains and use it as soap.

Nelson stopped in a little town called Cayambe along the way that was known for its biscuits.  We were happy to have a break from the car and enjoyed Coca-Cola, milk, and biscuits.  This was also the site of the most primitive toilet we found: a normal toilet without a seat.  (Thank goodness that was the worst.) 

Mmmm...Coca-Cola from the bottle!
Crunchy little biscuits that weren't too bad.

Camille is a happy traveller!
More flower fields.
Colorful textiles for sale along the road.

The roads were tortuous and Meghan held on for dear life, even in her sleep!

We stopped at a beautiful hostel (Hosteleria Puertolago) that was on Lake San Pablo.  Look at all these flowers!

Senor Nelson took our picture

Ken and Camille check out the lake.
Many volcanoes are still active in Ecuador.  This volcano, Imbabura, has not erupted in 14,000 years but is not believed to be entirely extinct.
Cute little cottages.  On the left is the dining room.
More proof we were there :-)
I'm not sure why, but the hostel had llamas.

At last we made it to Otavalo!
Otavalo is the site of a market where the indigenous people of Ecuador sell their wares.  Ken enjoyed haggling with the people in Spanish .  He says he doesn't like to haggle, but given that he would never have to see these people again, it somehow made the bargaining easier.
The market in the square.  Many other South American countries sell goods made by Ecuador's Indigenous and call them their own.

We had to be very careful of pickpockets, etc while at the market.  When Nelson parked the car, a very old, scary looking man stood very close to the car, peered in the windows and scared the heck out of Camille.  Senor Nelson even stayed with his car rather than wander with us through the market.  We did manage to make some nice purchases that some of you may see under the Christmas tree this year!

After spending about an hour at the Otavalo market, we travelled to Cotacachi, a city know for its leather goods. We ate lunch at a restaurant recommended by Nelson.  Ken and I insisted that Nelson eat with us.  Nelson ordered steak and then gladly let us pay for it without protest.  Nice guy, but steak for lunch?

On the way out of the restaurant, we saw a funeral procession.  I tried to discreetly take a video and keep Camille from pointing at the same time.  Here is the result:

The streets of Cotacachi were lined with leather stores.  We did not find anything to buy so we walked back to where the car was parked.  However, our car and driver were gone!  This was really the only time during our trip that I felt uneasy.  Fortunately we had our driver's cell phone number.  Unfortunately, finding a phone in Cotacachi was a task.  Finally we walked into the restaurant we had eaten in and discussed our predicament with our waiter.  He took us about a block away to a store with a bunch of phone booths and managed to call Senor Nelson.  It turns out that when he returned to the car after lunch, one of the tires was really low so he had gone to fill it with air.  He figured we would spend more time shopping and wouldn't miss him.  Thank goodness all ended well!

Nelson next took us to Cuicocha lake at the foothills of the Cotacachi Volcano.  Here's a little note from another site about the volcano:
"Thousands of years ago, the crater basin collapsed after an eruption, which gradually filled up with rain water and run-offs from small streams to form the lake. During a subsequent eruption, two islands appeared and they now stand in the lake’s center. Cotacachi is still an active volcano and you can see gas bubbles emerging from the lake bottom – a clear sign of volcanic activity."

Note that the word "Cui" means guinea pig.  Apparently many guinea pigs live on the islands in the lake.  Guinea pigs are eaten in Ecuador, and we saw them roasted on spits along the road and featured on menus in restaurants.  Honestly, we are open to trying new foods, but we did not try the guinea pig.

Note the bubbles in the lake.  What a beautiful site!
Senor Nelson wanted to take us to the Peguche waterfall a short distance away, but we declined his offer.  Travelling with small children has taught us to rejoice in what we were able to see, but also acknowledge that not everything can be done.  We were exhausted and so were the kids after a very full day.  Thankfully the trip back to Quito went by quickly and the girls enjoyed their naps in the car!
That evening we walked to a restaurant near our hotel.

Note: Carne means meat.  The restaurant was very nice, but anyone who really knows me knows that meat isn't at the top of my preferred palate.

The girls and I, still smiling after a looong day.

Ken and Camille

The food:  shrimp ceviche on the left, chicken kabobs and roasted veggies on the right.  Note: not a chance of getting sick from undercooked meat in Ecuador.
Ken and I look very well-rested in these photos.  The nice part about vacationing with 2 little ones in a hotel room is that when they go to sleep, we have no choice but to also go to sleep. We were in bed by 8:30 almost every night!
Stay tuned for more highlights of our Quito adventures.  Next up:  the Walk of the Seven Crosses and the sighting of Camille's guardian angel.

1 comment:

  1. So amazing! I am loving reading about your family's exciting vacation.