We meet a fellow guest at our lovely and (cheap) accommodation. Sadly she is an extremely obnoxious American lady who feels it appropriate to complain loudly about everything and even say that the “children of this country are not better than animals”. Takes all our British reserve to not tell her to shut up. Lorena (out host) manages it and we slope back to the room.
As mentioned earlier I have been suffering from a bit of travel belly but it has now reached almost a week and with a trip up the Amazon looming I am persuaded to get it checked out.
A trip to an Ecuadorian hospital will be an adventure. Lorena kindly drives us and helps us with the initial formalities. I am very impressed with the whole process – less than a 5 minute wait to be seen, full vitals checked, lab analysis completed (all clear) and some medication to help with what is just a bad dose of food poisoning. You even get to keep to the thermometer! Cost-wise it was about $50 (less than our travel insurance excess) so not too bad all told.
After the odd morning we return back to tourist mode and head into old Quito for a lovely mirador cafe lunch (avoiding any diary or fried food – good job we are not in Chile or Argentina) and then follow a Lonely Planet walking tour for the afternoon.
We cover the main plaza which is the site of the Ecuadorian parliament, and the scene of a Presidential assignation in the past, and then head off to one of the most opulent churches I have ever seen.
Church Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús has a beautifully carved stone exterior, but it’s the inside that blows you away (no photographs allowed so check out this link http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=513907). The entire inside of the church, walls and ceilings, are covered in 23 carat gold (in good catholic prudence) and it makes for a stunning appearance, if not a beautiful one.
Another short walk and we come to another church / convent. The church has (slightly) less gold but it’s the convent that makes a bigger impression. Not because of the building, though it’s a nice enough colonial courtyard type building, but because of the “al bazar Navidad” that is on. According to the opening hours it should be shut on a Sunday afternoon, but they are happily taking the $2 per person to let people into a special Christmas fayre.
What we normally assume is a quiet courtyard for nuns to contemplate the world is full of marching bands, characters from despicable me dressed in monk costumes (!), food stalls, and people dressed up and dancing round the square. Inside the buildings we see a display of traditional dancing and a room full of nativity displays that range for the beautiful (a carved wooden structure) to the bizarre (Hawaiian beach hut nativity anyone?) – great fun and helps us feel a bit festive.
An enjoyable few hours completing the walking tour, took us down lovely colonial streets, through pretty plazas and past a few more impressive churches (including the imposing Basillica which despite having 4 clock faces fails to tell the correct time on any of them!) before another bland meal for dinner nearby our B&B.