A Morning With No Plans

Monday, February 17

Once again, I woke up in my comfortable bottom-bunk in my six-bed dorm room with no plans. Heaven, after the madness of Brazil! I know I’ll get antsy soon, though.

After a breakfast of fresh fruit and bread at the hostel bar, I noticed a hand-written advertisement on a blackboard for a free walking tour of Quito’s gorgeous Old Town, el Centro Historico. Even though I’ve been down here a couple times before, I thought it would be a good idea to get oriented by foot and learn some new historical details.

The Basilica, which is visible from my hostel's rooftop terrace -- along with a panoramic view of the city and mountains.

The Basilica's only deviation from typical Gothic style is its replacement of gargoyles with native Ecuadorian fauna.

There were even Galapagos giant tortoises!

We arrived to the main square just in time to see President Rafael Correa waving from his balcony.

This statue presides over the four historic buildings in Old Town's main square.

The Andean condor represents freedom for Gran Colombia, the original country which encompassed Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. I hope I get to see one of these endangered birds in the wild.

The angry lion represents the Spanish empire, and the broken ship and cross behind him represent colonization and the Catholic church.

I had de ja vu from eating lunch in this very room a few months ago with the GAIAS study abroad group! It feels very different to come upon the place alone.

An Ecuadorian flag between the towers of the Basilica 

One of the seven crosses on Calle de las Cruces.

An elegant courtyard visible from a public rooftop.

We explored the dark, narrow, winding tunnels under this church where a strange artisan crafts market is now held.

After the tour, we all decided to grab $2.00 lunches at Almuerzo Como en Casa (Lunch Like at Home), the restaurant our tour guide had recommended. Then, three chill British guys from the tour and I headed out to play frisbee (YEEEE) at a park. My two-person team smoked theirs, and the guys were all naturals at defense. We asked the trash-collector lady to please leave the foam cups we were using to mark the end-zones, and almost ran over a businessman in a suit who had inadvertently cut across our field. We got lots of smiles and funny looks from Ecuadorians who had never seen a game of ultimate. It was so much fun!!!