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What fun to have a guide.  Grace knows her way around this area since she lived nearby for a week.  She and I are happy to see so much of it together.

Walking the streets of the centro historico in Quito is a cultural experience.  The city is a melting pot of different colors, sizes and types of people.  We never learned what drew the crowds today, but the plazas were so full that it was hard determine where one group began and another left off.

In the Plaza de la Independencia, or Plaza Grande, there were dignitaries on the steps of the Cathedral saluting to one group that was interspersed with others standing in front the President’s Mansion with arms waving in anger.  There seems to be a lot of animosity against the country’s leader…at least from the most vocal faction gathered in the square.

All this was interspersed with food vendors, families perched on stone walls and indios wandering together along the paths of the park.

We wended our way along sometimes steep and always narrow sidewalks that lead through colonial buildings.

Our destination was the Basilica del Voto Nacional*, an imposing edifice that is too tall to be captured in a photo without crossing the street.  The ornate facade is a bit overwhelming.

Of course, we had to climb the clock tower to reach the belfry.  As stairways deteriorated into metal ladders, the views through the artistically designed openings became more amazing.  We had a panoramic view of the city (although some is over the hills and out of sight) as well as another tower that we had to conquer.

As is usual everywhere we go, the young men are enamored with Grace.  The young attendant at the Basilica spent the time we were climbing to make a bracelet for her, which he presented with his phone number and email as we left.

The rain began in earnest as we started back to the hotel. It gathered steam as we traveled by bus to the home of Grace’s host family and was running like small rivers through the streets by the time we returned to the hotel late that evening.

(More photos below)

Hasta pronto

TRAVEL NOTES:

*It is sometimes also called the Catedral Consagración de Jesús or the Basílica de San Juan. It is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas.