Ensemble in ECUADOR
Day 2 - 4: Puerto Rico
de la Plata
Day 5: Middle of the Word
Day 6 - 11: Ibarra - Festival Paz Y Cultura Para el
The Charm of Cotacachi People
Day 13 - 16: Baños adventure
Jungle at its purest!
Go jump off the bridge
On June 25th, our 23th
day in Ecuador, we were able to experience our first day in Quito. As the
capitol of Ecuador, Quito is one of the most recognized cities. After
eating a delicious breakfast of pancakes, fresh fruit and eggs at our
hostel, we packed up our cameras and traveled by bus to the Old Town
section of Quito. We stopped on the road to see the Pichincha Volcano, an
active volcano which is surrounded by the homes and businesses of Quito.
The most recent activity experienced from the volcano was when one of it's
peaks, Guagua, erupted in 1999. Our tour guide explained the the entire
city was covered in ash. These volcanoes overlook Quito's two million
As we traveled we saw many landmarks and buildings. We passed the House of
Culture which is the best archaeological museum in Ecuador. Also, Alameda
Park which claims the title of being the first astronomical observatory in
South America. We saw the monument of Simon Bolivar, liberator and
president to many South American countries including Peru and Venezuela.
Our first stop off the bus was the Basilica del Voto Nacional. We were
greeted by a statue Pope John Paul II which warmed the hearts of our
dancers. We took many pictures of the outside of the church. It's gothic
style makes the church a beautiful sight. Unlike the traditional gargoyles
we are used to seeing the Basilica homes the indigenous animals of
Ecuador. We walked inside church and took many more fantastic pictures.
After, we walked up many narrow, seemingly unstable staircases in order to
get to one of the top towers of the Basilica. Although it was quite
frightening for someone who is uneasy about heights, it was well worth it.
Our group was able to view the entire city of Quito from almost a birds
eye view. Once we were done taking pictures and climbing back down, we all
met at a little cafe to enjoy some coffee and ice cream. After our rest we
packed back into the bus in order to drive to our next destination.
The second church we visited was the Church of the Society of Jesus, or La
Compania. The church is done in the baroque style, all carved on volcanic
grey stone. It took 160 years to build, beginning in 1605. As you walk
into the church, two large canvasses are on either side of you. On the
left, there is the Last Judgment, on the right, Hell. The original
paintings were stolen many years ago and never found. The ones hanging now
are replacements. The biggest impression the church makes on you is the
fact that every centimeter of the church
is covered with a fine 23-carat gold lamina. Our tour guide explained that
all together there is 52 pounds of gold covered the church. The church has
a Latin Cross design. It has a central, north and south nave, transept,
crossing, presbytery, anteroom to the sacristy and chapel. As we admired
the golden main altarpiece we were told of a story about the Virgin
Dolorosa, whose painting is in the middle. In 1906, the Virgin Dolorosa
opened and closed her eyes in front of 36 students visiting. It is a
miracle that has not been witnessed since. We moved onto seeing the bells
from the bell tower. They are currently on display inside the church
because an earthquake in 1868 destroyed the towers.
Our third stop was to visit the Iglesia de San Francisco. This church was
built in the neoclassical style. We did not enter, but instead listened to
our tour guide talk about the church on the stone steps outside. The
church overlooks a large open area where many families and tourists sit
down and relax. We all realized how hungry we were after the days events
so we decided that our next stop should be lunch.
We arrived at a little restaurant which served guinea pig because a few of
the boys in our group decided that today was the day they wanted to try
it. A few people ordered the guinea pigs and said they enjoyed them. It
was quite interesting to see guinea pigs on peoples plates because that is
not something that is very common back in the States!
Our next stop was El Panecillo, a statue 200 meters high of an angel which
overlooks and protects the city of Quito. We took many pictures outside,
and again this was a fantastic sight overlooking the city.
Our last sight of the day was taking cable cars up the Pichincha Volcano.
This time around, we literally did have a birds eye view of the city
because the cars take you up almost 14,000 ft to the top of the peak. We
were all dressed in shorts and it was freezing outside. However, there
were huge, puffy, picture perfect clouds so we decided to stick it out and
stayed outside to enjoy the view. Once we decided we had enough and went
inside, some of our dancers took advantage of the oxygen bars while others
enjoyed hot chocolate, coffee or tea and various desserts at the cafe.
After we were well rested and well fed, we got back into the cable cars
and went back down the mountain. We climbed into our bus and headed back
to the hostel.
This tour gave us a look at a completely different side of Ecuador. As a
city, Quito was unlike any other city we had seen in Ecuador thus far. In
comparison to the smaller towns of Puerto Rico and Banos, Quito was much
more similar to our hometown of Chicago. Within it's busy streets and
beautiful culture, it gave us, as visitors, a taste of what it means to
live in Ecuador.