Roaming around Quito

I forayed out this morning not sure what the city would be like. I took Ave. Guayaquil into Old Town and the first thing that struck me was being harangued by people on the street to take some ice cream. The little ice cream shops have soft serve machines facing right onto the sidewalk, and the young women staffing them prepare a couple of ice cream cones (held in a napkin) and offer them to people walking by or people in cars. (50 cents.) A lot of people strolling around in Old Town had ice cream cones. Cannot fail to mention the vendors walking around wiht a sort of ice cream castle on a tray, cones stuck into the top of the castle, who would stop and scoop you out some of the castle. I think it is meringue not actual frozen stuff. Another variant on the soft serve was what looked like fruit sorbet being made by hand in a giant copper bowl.

The sidewalks were cobbly and narrow in places and curb cuts weren’t consistent but I could manage OK. I think because it was Sunday the streets were mostly shut down so I could just go in the street anyway. Every little plaza was nice to sit in & had its own street vendors who sing or chant with varying degrees of skill. Sometimes just a guy looking super desperate with a single package of socks trying to sell you a pair of socks for a dollar. Families were strolling around probably after church, indulging their children, eating snacks, listening to street musicians. It was really idyllic!

Most shops have a step to get in (though, really, most shops were shut because it is Sunday) but I did find a pharmacy without MUCH of a step and got claritin and kleenex for Danny who is either sick or having allergies/altitude sickness. I had lunch in Plaza San Francisco in a little tourist cafe where the food was excellent and I could sit outside. The bathroom there was kind of almost accessible but not really. (Ditto for the bathroom in the tourist information building on the Plaza Grande). Back to lunch: I had a fritada which was huge, cheap, and delicious, with juicy grilled chicken, garlic maiz blanco, a sort of onion-tomato curtido, thin avocado puree with toasted maiz on it, platanos maduros, and a mildly spicy pepper sauce, kicking back with that and a coke sitting right on the Plaza.

I must have gone around the Plaza Grande like 5 times just kind of wandering and then sitting in different places to look at the town and watch people go by.

You can get a haircut for 2 dollars and lunch (huge) for $5-10.

The Museum of Precolombian Art was accessible and had the only (mostly) accessible bathroom I’ve seen so far in Ecuador. By which, it had a hand rail and I could get into it in my wheelchair though a bigger one than mine might not fit. So, if you’re a wheelchair user and you need the bathroom check out this museum (which is free). Not to neglect the actual museum, which was excellent and super fancy, with a lot of ceramics and a few gold oranaments and pretty good explanatory signs (along with a booklet on the exhibit you could borrow). The ceramics from the Chorrera culture were especially fabulous. I didn’t see a shop, alas, (as I was hoping to buy a replica bird whistle.)

I liked the guy with a puppet show of joropo musicians, and the people further up the street playing huaynos (or something close to that) and everyone dancing in the street. A jolly woman in one of those andean lady bowler hats with a peacock feather grabbed my hair and complimented me, dancing a bit (I did not mind) But aside from that only a few people went slack jawed at the sight of me. No one fake-jumped out of the way (what a nice luxury) And no one else had brightly colored hair – perhaps they are all in the other tourist area where there is “night life” and where the gay bars are. I will go there later in the week and find out.

The guys who drove us from the airport to our hotel at midnight were very negative on the idea of my going on the trolebus (it is too crowded, and not “exclusive”) but it looked OK to me, maybe a bit crowded but not impossible. I will likely try that tomorrow, either from the Plaza del Teatro or the Plaza de Bolivar in the other direction. (with my eye on going to the big park that has a botanical garden.)

The whole day was very relaxing!

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