Hola de Quito!
After an amazing three weeks in Costa Rica, our group set off for our next destination -- Quito! Our flight went smoothly and we landed safely in Ecuador early Sunday afternoon. Once we unloaded our luggage and settled into the hotel some people walked into town to watch the fútbol game, Ecuador versus Colombia (Ecuador won 1-0!).
A hot shower and comfy hotel mattresses were the perfect preparation for our first day of class the next morning. Our lecture began with a general overview of international environmental politics. We discussed the different factors contributing to environmental concerns and the misconceptions regarding climate change. Ecuador’s experience of political instability and current sustainable efforts were also talked about, providing a foundation for the experiential course at hand.
Following a quick lunch break and a stroll through the markets around the park, we set off as a group to explore the city. The brief bus tour turned into a longer affair then expected, our first encounter of the terrible Quito traffic! But we soon got to our first stop. A beautiful overlook of the mountains from the city’s cultural center awaited us. We squeezed in time for a fast photo op and continued on our journey to the Old City.
Next was a visit to the Basilica del Voto Nacional, a landmark easily seen from all parts of the city. The basilica was beautiful combination of various architectural styles from 16th and 17th century Europe. Another facet of the basilica reminiscent from old European cathedrals was its tiny staircases. Determined to see the view of Quito from the top of the basilica, we climbed up long and winding staircases both inside and outside the building. After a few minor panic attacks over steps seemingly protruding into thin air, I finally made it the top and well was it worth it!
After the difficult trek down to level ground, we headed over to city center. The square was bustling with people and filled with historic statues and buildings. The President’s home is a prominent aspect of the town square. Although we weren’t able to go inside, we did have the opportunity to walk up to the gate and take pictures of the traditional guards standing out front.
Up next was La Compañía. This church is well known throughout Quito for its lavish decorations all made in gold. It was a shame we were not allowed to take pictures inside! Once we finished exploring the church, we broke up into our three-man teams for our scavenger hunt Quito style!
The competitor inside of me took over and I was determined to win!! Although my group failed to obtain victory, sad I know, we still had an amazing time exploring the city around us.