We leave for Cuenca tomorrow, after 5 days in Quito, and before I leave, I want to record some overriding impressions of this city. I think that, once we get to Cuenca, I'll want to write about that.
Quito is problably the nicest Latin American big city I've been in. Not that I've been in a lot, but I'm comparing it to Mexico City, Guatemala City, San Salvador (in the 80's) and Panama City. It is pretty clean, the streets are well swept, and the only vehicles spitting out obnixious black smoke are the buses. Lots of taxis, most in pretty good condition, pretty new. People are friendly, not overly so, but they are when you talk with them. We don't hear many catcalls, "Hey mister,"or "I love you." There are many people selling things in the street, such as shoelaces, batteries, chicle (gum), etc., but not too many beggars. There are nice parks, which are well maintained, and provide an oasis from the noise and movement of the streets. We learned from a cab driver yesterday that every Sunday, over 30Km of Quito's street network are closed to traffic, with only pedestrians, bikers and skaters allowed to use them! There are a lot of beautiful colonial churches and museums to visit, lots of good restaurants, both traditional Ecuadorian ones, and others.
Today we went to visit "La Capilla del Hombre" which is a museum designed by, and holding a large collection of works by Oswaldo Guayasamin, a famous Ecuadorian painter/sculptor/muralist who died in 1999. His work reminds me of early Picasso (Guernica-type) as well as El Greco. His subjects are the poor and downtrodden of Latin America, and he focus on the faces and hands - which most closely show their humanity. It's a really moving museum - definitely worth a visit if you're in Quito. Once the family settles the estate, the plans are to open his former residence as a museum. We were able to walk around the grounds today, though, and saw his two antique cars (one the 1930's) that he drove up to his death.
The girls are doing well - but are ready to move on and get settled in Cuenca. Nikki is quite the photographer, and giving her the camera is a great way to get her focused on her surroundings instead of on whatever it is we won't let her buy!
We've been staying at a youth hostel called the Secret Garden. It's a nice place in a nice part of town, and if I were in my 20s I'd probably love it. But since I'm in my late 40's, Im getting a little tired of the drunk Aussies stumbling loudly in at 2 am.
We're all ready to move on!