Quito, at 9300 ft, is surrounded by high volcanic mountains. The city, built on many hills, it long and narrow. Ecuador is an example of a developing nation. It is old, very old, dating back to the days of the Inca. There are fine examples of the best in gothic style churches, every style since, and a style that we are beginning to recognize as purely Ecuadorian. In the "old city" the streets are narrow and lined with well maintained, often colorful, homes. It Is worthy of its designation as a world heritage site. If we had just come from Mexico we would remark on his clean and prosperous it is. People coming from wealthy first world countries find it less so. It is a city of contrasts. We find the streets well maintained, with no trash. We are amazed to find many high end shops and restaurants... Even great huge shopping centers with the latest and best of everything. We also see evidence of deeply engrained poverty.... Both in the cities and in farm villages. It is a country attempting to grow. We suspect that the most wealthy are involved in tourism, lumber (from the rain forest), mining and oil, and perhaps some in the cocaine trade. A variety of foreign countries are interested in oil, mineral, and forest product rights, and offer easy loans in exchange... Tempting ...but they are giving away the wealth of the country for personal gain. Another landmark trait of this country is many cars, very cheap gasoline, smoggy air that tends to collect in the day and blow away in the night.
Adventures come in different flavors! Judy had found word in a guidebook about a nearby village with a cottage industry of molded colorful small figures... and we were hopeful of finding the place. We asked for advice in our hotel, and early in the morning we left our hostel and walked over to the nearest tram stop. We found the tram car more than jammed body against body full... But were encouraged to push on in. We did... Taking every precaution against pick pockets... A big problem here. Self appointed angels appear when needed... A woman took us under her wing to point out the correct exit and since she was going to the same place guided us to the correct bus, and exit. The town, we found, was a place where everyday life occurred. There were only a few of the special shop/workshops to be found, but the work they produced was whimsical and excellent.
This is our favorite way to experience a small town... Venturing out to be with the people... To set off across a foreign city, dependent on our language skills and a map, and hoping for the appearance of an angel! We returned looking like loaded llamas! Also along the way home we visited some of the grandest churches we have seen anywhere.
Today is a day of preparing for our next step... We will fly tomorrow for the Galapagos... We must store some luggage here in the hotel to meet the weight limits on the boat and our willingness to haul a suitcase full of souvenirs.