November 2011
November 2011
5 min

Wednesday 9th November 2011

5 min

Quito, Ecuador Since my short but eventful trip to Galápagos, I have been back in Quito, and in fact have been slightly under the weather, perhaps due to excessive quantities of delicious food…but I am now fully recovered. On Monday I had to be at the railway station before 10.00 AM in order to pay for the train journey that I am due to do on Friday – I had booked it last week, but as I did not have my passport with me then, I could not pay to secure the booking. Following my less than encouraging experiences with the airline LAN in the previous few days, I was a little nervous of anything to do with travel arrangements, and when the clerk told me that the booking system was out of action due to computer troubles, my heart sank! However, after a while, it came to life, and I was able to complete my reservation. But I still wonder whether this train journey, which I have been waiting to do since 1983, will actually come to fruition…! Following this successful visit to the station, I headed into the old centre of Quito, where I was treated to a view of Ecuador’s populist President Rafael Correa, who was reviewing a military parade from the balcony of the Palacio de Gobierno, overlooking the Plaza Grande (which used to be known as the Plaza de la Independencia when I lived here – I wonder why its name has changed). The rain began to fall, but the sight of the splendid soldiers in their 18th Century uniforms was a spectacle to savour.

Palacio de Gobierno, with President Rafael Correa on the balcony

President Rafael Correa on the balcony of the Palacio de Gobierno

Troops ready to be inspected by the President

After watching this impressive scene, I retreated from the rain into a café for lunch, and I found myself sitting next to a German named Verena, from the beautiful mediaeval town of Marburg, who had just arrived in Quito minus her baggage, this time thanks to Iberia. With me feeling a certain solidarity with her, we teamed up to visit some of colonial Quito’s wonderful churches, but we soon found that most of them were closed as it was Monday! However, we did manage to get into the cathedral, which I had visited before my trip to Galápagos, but later I had I read about a painting of the Last Supper in the cathedral, which has the uniquely Ecuadorian feature of Jesus Christ eating a guinea pig, a traditional food of Ecuador’s indigenous people, so I was curious to see this!

Calle de la Ronda, Quito

The newly restored Teatro Sucre

Yesterday, Tuesday, whatever kind of “Quito quickstep” had inflicted me really set in, so I did not dare to venture out, and definitely not far from any toilet facilities, but by this morning I was feeling better, and I met up with Verena for lunch, after which we took an amazingly souped up taxi up to the bottom station of Quito’s amazing cable car, the TeleferiQo, which takes one up to 3950 metres, with a truly spectacular panoramic view of the city on one side, and of the 4698 metre high peak of Rucu Pichincha on the other.

Quito from the TeleferiQo

[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1188" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Quito from the TeleferiQo (1)

Quito from the TeleferiQo (2)

Quito from the TeleferiQo (3)

We found ourselves sitting in one of the cable cars opposite two girls, Myra and Marleen, with whom we quickly got into conversation, and it turned that they were both from Tilburg, in the south of the Netherlands, and Myra works as a publicity agent for the university there, where I have been to test the English levels of the students! Once we reached the top station, we luckily took longer photographing the incredible vista of the city beneath us than we had planned, for almost immediately the clouds rolled in at almost breathtaking speed, and then a dramatic hail storm ensued – if we had gone on the walk we had discussed, we would have been totally soaked, and at this altitude we would have been pretty frozen as well! As it was we retreated to the cafeteria to warm up!

Rucu Pichincha from the top of the TeleferiQo

Clouds advancing rapidly

As it was impossible to see the views any more, and as the café was far from what the Dutch would refer to as “gezellig” (a uniquely Dutch concept which roughly translated means cosy), we finally decided to head back down to Quito, filled with memories of this great addition to Quito’s tourist infrastructure, which did not exist when I lived here all those years ago.

Quito from the TeleferiQo (6)