This weekend was fun, but definitely exhausting! My host family took me to Quito, the capital of Ecuador to see a few of the sites (and of course try some of the food). At 2,850 m high, the city is gorgeous, constructed in the Andes. It is absolutely breathtaking to see houses, like steps, built into the mountains.
We arrived in Quito Saturday afternoon and took a little bit of time to rest before we set of to see the city. After a little nap, we got lunch at Café Del Fraile, where we had a spread of plates from land and sea – a little Ecuadorean surf and turf. The food was excellent as usual and I was definitely stuffed. My host family is very big on sharing, so it’s great to trade plates when we eat out so we can try different dishes. One of the dishes (which I told them I was going to pass on ordering) was goat. My host dad ordered it so I still got to have a little taste, and honestly, it was delicious! Would I order it for myself? Probably not. BUT, I still enjoyed it! After lunch, we saw the president’s house, the mayor’s house and probably about 5-7 churches and a few theaters. The architecture of the city is gorgeous, the churches all hand-made of stone with beautiful, hand-carved wooden doors. The streets of the city are small and made of stone, another defining characteristic of the area we were in, also known as “the center.” After exploring and admiring the architecture, we stopped for ice cream! Right after we stopped for canelazo (a drink of water, cinnamon and liquor – though sometimes juice is added as well) and a HUGE empanada filled with a little bit of cheese and topped with sugar (similar to the elephant ears you can buy at the state fair). While I wasn’t a huge fan of the canelazo, the ice cream and empanada were definitely winners! After a long day of eating and walking we also went to a local school of arts where they put on a show in their theater. The show – all of which was in Spanish that I didn’t understand – was a satire about men and women. They joked with each other and danced to traditional Ecuadorian music.
After a good nights sleep, we set out to explore a few more sites on Sunday: The TeleferiQo, the basilica, the Virgin of Quito. The TeleferiQo was first on our list. It is a gondola lift that goes all the way up the Pichincha volcano in Quito and allows you to overlook the whole city, as well as 3 cities. The view was beautiful, though it was cold, and the high altitude often makes people tired. We walked a little bit up the mountain and looked over the city, and we also saw horses and llamas at the top!
After the TeleferiQo, we were all exhausted, but we were on a mission to sight-see, so we made our way to the Virgin of Quito. The Virgin is a large statue of Metal that also overlooks the city. They say that the area in front of the Virgin is the north, and the area behind her is the South of Quito. While we were here, there were many little shops for souvenirs and food, as well as people dancing in the park.
The last place we went was the basilica. It was absolutely HUGE and equally GORGEOUS! It was made of stone and had wood doors, defining characteristics of churches in the area. On the outside of the structure there were intricately hand carved stone animals. We walked inside and of course it was equally beautiful.
After our exhausting day out, we finished the day of with dinner, ice cream and a couple of movies before waking up at 3 am to head back to for school on Monday morning!