The Sunday after traveling around the Northern Sierra I stayed in Quito to see some more of its sights. I headed down into the Historic Center of the town, where I was hoping to be able to piggyback on one of the tours that the Metropolitan Police gives to the public. Unfortunately they didn't have any available, so I kicked around a few other sights instead. I stopped in the Casa Museo María Augusta Urrutia, a house that used to belong to the upper-class Doña María, who after being widowed dedicated her life to social work and the Catholic church. Her foundation has turned the property into a museum, telling about her life and all the public services she facilitated, including the construction of houses, feeding and providing a shelter in her home for poor children, and helping youths from the surrounding provinces come and study in Quito. Beyond the beautiful personal effects and decor inside, some of the old appliances and furnishings from the early 20th century show how the upper class lived at the time. She also had a very beautiful collection of art by the Ecuadorian painter Victor Mideros. I found the story of Dona María and her house to be very interesting and inspiring.
From there I traipsed around more, working my way up to the Basílica, which was modeled after Notre Dame. I didn't want to do too much exploring as I'm hoping that it will be part of the city center tour once I finally get around to making an appointment for one, but here is a picture:
In front of the Basílica is a big plaza:
From there I hopped a cab to the Teleferiqo, which is a cable car ride that takes you to the top of Volcano Pinchinca, the large mountains that anchor the western skyline of Quito. Here's a picture of one of the cars about to fill up and ascend:
After a maybe 10 minute right up the side of the volcano, which was full of some great views of the city and countryside and also some panic at dangling so high above solid ground in a tiny box, we reached the top:
Where there were some really great views of Quito:
I walked around the paths some at the top, but it was cold and drizzly all the way up there so not long after taking in all the views I hopped a ride back down. After that I hit a few of the stores near my apartment for some necessary errands (like getting an Ecuador Copa America jersey) and headed back to rest after an exhausting day of exploring.
This weekend I'll be heading to the third-largest, colonial city of Cuenca, and I'm pumped. But stay tuned for some blogs before then: I want to explain a bit to you all about the current judicial crisis in Ecuador (selecting an Attorney General, selecting a chief Public Defender, ad hoc judges dismissing leaders of the judicial system from power, closing down multiple judiciary institutions to give power to a 'transitional council' tasked with revamping the entire judicial system in 18 months...) AND yesterday I began a very interesting new project in the archives of the Prosecutor's Office for the Province of Pinchincha.
Write to you soon!