Friday, 25 September 2015

Quito 2


02/08 - 03/08


It was the first Sunday of the month which meant that the Jesuit Church in the Old Quarter was free to enter. We were excited to explore the inside of this church which had been said to be covered in gold and which was claimed to be the most beautiful church in the country.  So after a relaxing morning Skyping our families and loved ones back home, we jumped on the trole and headed back to the Old Quarter. As it was the weekend, the park was filled with families and friends enjoying the sunshine of this beautiful Sunday. 

As with most ancient churches and cathedrals, it is prohibited to take any pictures inside. But perhaps we can paint you a picture in words to try and describe the incredible interior of this magnificent building. 

As we walked in we were covered in a yellow glow as the light reflected off the gold walls. We wandered around for a little bit before enquiring if we could be given on be of the free guided tour. A very energetic young girl was directed to us and took us around. She explained the history of the church and the techniques that were used to embellish the walls and statues. It is rather impossible to put into words the beauty and the feeling of the church itself.

The church's construction began in 1605 and took 160 years to complete!  It was built in perfect symmetry, even to the point that the builders constructed and painted a fake staircase staircase in the back of the church to balance out the real one.  The church had also survived a fire and a part of it had to be reconstructed.  But to mark the event the people restoring the damaged area left one of the angels' faces painted on the ceiling marred by soot and fire as a remembrance for all.

Our guide was only 16 years old but so passionate about history and tourism. She loved this building so much that she volunteered as a tour guide here every weekend. She also took us into some of the side buildings where we were allowed to take a few pics.

Joy standing at the gate which led to the crypt below the church floors.

Roxy and our guide standing in the outside courtyard

We were told a legend about a little girl who died inside the church while it was being constructed and now her ghost apparently still haunts this courtyard

The big bells that used to hang in the church tower.

Joy taking the opportunity to ring the bell.

We went into one of the side rooms where we were not actually permitted to take photographs but our guide allowed us to take a few sneaky ones, as she believed that we were respectful and interested enough in the history of the church to deserve this privilege.

This was a very interesting combination box. Specific drawers would stay locked unless you opened others in a special combination.

For example: To open 38, you would first have to open 1 and 8. Very cool!

As Roxy was taking this picture of the grandfather clock, our guide's superior walked in...whoops! Quickly hide the camera.  Luckily she didn't seem to notice and we were happy that we hadn't gotten her into any trouble.  

The ceiling was very interesting - each little face within the circles had its own unique expression.

As we made our way to the exit we were faced with one last piece of artwork in the church. It was a huge mural on the wall depicting the seven deadly sins and the eternal punishment that would befall anyone who was disobedient with regard to each one.  It was a rather scary picture to behold. Our guide explained that all parents bring their young children to look at this image with the warning that if they do not behave that this is where they would end up. But if they were good they would go to heaven, the image of which was painted on the opposite wall of the church entrance. Quite a direct way to manipulate children to do what you want!

We said goodbye to the magical church and our enthusiastic tour guide and went for a little walk around the neighbourhood. We found a building housing a few stalls and we ambled in to check out some of the local produce.

Huge snails!!!! Apparently they have all sorts of healing properties. We were not quite convinced about this but were definitely impressed by their size (we used Roxy's hand to look at them according to scale). 

Arequipe... caramel, fudgy sweet deliciousness!!

The festive square where Joy received a white rose from a friendly stranger.

There seemed to be a large group protesting or gathering for a common cause. We weren't quite sure what was going on and unfortunately we were unable to ask anyone. We really need to find ourselves a Spanish mouthpiece!

We had decided to leave for Banos the next morning but still needed to get a police statement written up for the stolen camera. When we got back to Daniel's house, we went to the closest police station. Unfortunately, we had to go to the tourist police station which were not open at that time. It would just have to wait for the morning and it would be our last night spent with Daniel and to show our appreciation for all his hospitality,  we offered to cook a wholesome meal for him and his girlfriend.  We bought the ingredients from the local supermarket and we all four pitched in to make the cottage pie with roast veggies and even flan for dessert.  It was such a wonderful night with great food and even better company.  We were certainly going to miss our new found friends.  


We woke up early and Daniel took us to the tourist police station. It was such an efficient system and in no time we had our official statement and we were all sorted. We had a rather interesting experience on the way back to the house.  Daniel had left us to go and exchange money for Colombia and he had gone home to complete some deadlines before lunch. The buses were all extremely busy that day (being the first day of school holidays) and as we hopped on our bus,  we realised that the driver was a very competitive driver. He was speeding in front of other buses, suddenly slamming on brakes at the stops and just generally being quite reckless. He even tried to overtake another bus and came extremely close to causing a collision - there was just a centimetre separating the two vehicles. Luckily the police were close by and saw the event unfolding. They immediately pulled him over and discovered that his licence had expired. We were thus all told to exit the bus as he was hauled off into the police vehicle. But what we're we meant to do? The locals were quite vocal and we're refusing to purchase another bus ticket. We joined in on this appeal and we were assured by the traffic officer that we could get onto the next bus without paying provided that we still had our tickets. We strode off the bus,  tickets in hand and searched for the next one to come our way. But, because all the buses were so busy it was almost impossible to squeeze onto the next bus as it was full to even over capacity. This didn't seem to deter the Ecuadorian locals though as they pushed their way into every available gap. The last man to get on the bus was basically pushed in by the doors as they shut closed.
We waited for the next bus which had space but that ticket lady insisted that we must pay. We tried to explain what had happened but she refused to hear us. Eventually we were forced to call the policeman over to us who made her understand the situation although she was still unhappy about it. Wow! What drama! 

Un conductor de bus manejaba con cero puntos en su licencia profesional

Este contenido ha sido publicado originalmente por Diario EL COMERCIO en la siguiente dirección: Si está pensando en hacer uso del mismo, por favor, cite la fuente y haga un enlace hacia la nota original de donde usted ha tomado este contenido.

Daniel later sent us this link - Apparently this was big news and our photograph actually made the front page of the local newspaper - Celebrities!

After this incident we had to pack up and say our final goodbyes to Daniel and Puszek. We had had the most amazing time with them both and were so grateful for the experience! 

We at first thought he was lying on our bags because he was sad to see us go and was trying in his own little way to prevent us from leaving...

But as we gazed deeper into his enormous, glaring eyeballs - we soon realised that he just could not wait to see us go and have his couch back, all to himself. 

The Trole ride to the Bus station down town was suppose to only take about 45mins but because all the public transport was so crowded we had to stand with our big bags on our backs for over an hour. As we arrived at the bus station we were rushed off to catch the next bus to Banos which left in 5mins. We just made it and enjoyed a little nap on the 3hr drive to our next destination. 

Banos is a small town so even though we only arrived in the early evening, we were able to find a good hostel without much effort. We still had some left over pasta so we enjoyed a simple dinner and then headed to bed for some rest, before we dared explore the exciting adrenalin-inducing activities that this little town had to offer!

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