I love Christmas and being away at this time has been weird. All the things that get you in the Christmas mood are almost entirely lacking:
No concerts, no shopping, no writing Christmas cards, no Christmas do’s, almost no Christmas music, no seeing family and friends, and no dark and cold weather.
You can have almost missed it altogether if it wasn’t for the FaceBook feeds of friends and family showing the normal festive season’s activities.
So this morning I am feeling a bit flat (some friends who travelled at the same time a few years ago said they felt the same at this time of the year). Nik suggests that we go out for a run to cheer me up as we have struggled to get much exercise other than walking round everywhere so far on the trip.
So we head out towards the park in the warm morning sunshine. It’s great to be doing some exercise and the park is beautiful with a running track (though it’s an odd length at 750m), a cool little outdoor gym and a pedalo lake. We have a good laugh using all 3 of them and are feeling happy with life (great work Nik!).
Tomorrow sees us head off into the Amazon for 3 nights and there are a few supplies we need, so stop by the mall again on the way home and are still amazed by the lack of shoppers. We think that Ecuadorian Christmases are far less focused on presents and more on time with family and friends.
The afternoon is spent traveling up to a reportedly spectacular viewpoint of the city. The city itself is 2800m above sea level, but you can get a cable car at the edge of the city up to a dizzying height of 4100m. When we arrive there is cloud all around, and we could have done with Rudolph to shine the way, so we have a hot chocolate and wait. After about 20 minutes the cloud partly clears and we get a view of the city, not perfect but still impressive.
Following this we inadvertently decide to do something that lots of Ecuadorians do on Christmas Eve, and head to El Pancello. This is a park on another hill overlooking Quito (though nowhere near as high as the cable car, only 3100m) which is home to a apocalyptic statue of the Virgin Mary, standing 135 ft high. At Christmas they add some lights to the statue and some large temporary structures made of light to turn the lone Mary into a full blown nativity scene – Three Wise Men, Star, Joseph, Jesus in a manager, and even a donkey and an ass!
Its teeming with local people looking at the lights, eating street food, and generally having a good time (and they car share well here – we see 14 people get out of a pickup). We snack on some of the wares (cheese fried banana anyone) before having a long wait for a taxi back home but we chat with a mother and daughter for a while which nicely passes the time.
Back home to pack ahead of the trip to the Amazon.
Happy Christmas everyone.