Saturday, 15 February 2014

Ecuador - Quito I

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is in a high central valley in the Andes.  It sprawls 30km north-south but is only a few km wide, with barrios heading up the hills on each side.  The old colonial part of town is a lovely chaos of narrow streets, open plazas, some grand buildings, innumerable tiny stores and restaurants, street vendors, and far more people walking than driving.  We stayed at an old family home in the centre of the old town, with a beautiful courtyard, original nineteenth century furniture, eclectic modern art, and an incredibly friendly and helpful family running it - all for 1/4 the price I pay to stay in Edmonton.  The view is of Panecillo ("little bun") a prominent hill with a huge angel statue that can be seen from all over the city, which helps get you home when you are disoriented in the twisting streets.

Quito has a reputation as a dangerous city, although we had no problems at all using basic common sense about watching packs and pockets, avoiding empty streets (which would be hard to find anyway), and looking like we knew what we were doing.  But even more so, there were police everywhere.  When I was drawing in a busy street, 5 of them ending up standing around me watching me draw - couldn't have been safer! 

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