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Liz On The Loose
No Photos 3rd Aug 2018 - Journey to the Galapagos
Quito...the first UNESCO World Heritage site.

This morning’s breakfast was a sight to behold.  We didn’t even see all of the items.  I enjoyed an omelet from the omelet bar, dragon fruit, mango, hot chocolate (I had to mention this for you, Brian), and a blackberry smoothie from the custom smoothie bar (every type of fruit imaginable, any combination you may want).  I know you are probably wondering why I would pick something so ‘normal’, but the blackberries here are a little different and I want to enjoy as much of them as I can.  

We met in the lobby after breakfast for our tour and was greeted by Diana again.  For the day, we had a bus driver (Manuel) and a security guard (David).  They really want to make sure that everyone is comfortable.  To be honest, I didn’t feel the need at all for the security guard, but he was such a great guy.  Our first stop was atop a mountain to see a statue of the Virgin Mary which overlooks Quito and is higher than the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.  It was a bright, sunny day and of course I forgot my sunglasses in the room.  So, I had to pay what Cheryl calls an ‘idiot tax’ of USD$12 to buy what I am sure are not Ray Bans.  I was okay with it though.  Our next stop was the old town where we visited a monastery, the ‘gold’ church, the presidential palace, and saw the main square with old buildings.  It was all lovely, but I want to highlight the ‘gold’ church.  I prefer silver to gold, but this place was almost completely covered in gold and I loved it.  This church took 160 years to build and went through four architectural periods, which can be seen in the decor.  The people being forced to build the church for the Spaniards, hid symbols important to Ecuadorian people in the decor.  I LOVE this church (and I have seen many).  The downside is that photos are not allowed to be taken inside the church and I guess I will have to look at online pictures for future reference.

We went to a fancy restaurant on the main square near the presidential palace for lunch.  We had a private room upstairs at ‘La Belle Epoch”.  It was so opulent.  There was a crystal chandelier and ornate wood trim everywhere.  The balcony overlooked the square and the Virgin Mary in the distance.  It was stunning.  The food was very high class.  I had the ceviche trio to start and was pleased to see more Ecuadorian popcorn, fried plantains, and purple potatoes came along with it.  I had mushroom risotto for my main course.  However, dessert was the most impressive thing.  All of a sudden, the music changed to almost ominous tones and a man in a purple robe with a purple pointy hat that covered his face walked into the room carrying smoking ice cream!  They served our sorbet with a bowl of dried ice underneath.  It was so much fun.  I enquired about the purple outfit and learned that it was used by sinners on Easter.  They would wear it to conceal their identity and walk in the main square to be forgiven in their culture.

After an hour long drive, we arrived at the equator museum.  Here, Cheryl and I were total know-it-alls and keeners asking questions.  Cheryl knew way more about magnetic properties at the equator (bonus points from dad for sure) and I seemed to know more about the indigenous tribes.  She was surprised that I knew about the fish in the jungle rivers that is attracted to ammonia and will swim to (and up) the source...if you know what I mean.  We did water spinning demonstrations, egg balancing (Cheryl and I sucked), walking the line, strength tests (you are weak right on the equator), and time telling.  We also learned about shrunken heads and how they were ‘made’ by some cultures.  We were able to see two examples, but only photograph one.  They were often taken as trophies after a war and for reverence when someone in power or a shaman passes away.  Lastly, we got to learn about chocolate!  We sucked on the cocoa bean when it is covered in a white fleshy fruit exterior to guess the flavours it has adopted.  We saw how they were then fermented, dried, roasted, and crushed.  Of course, we sampled along the way and bought some of our own (no promises that it will make it to Canada).  Plus, the gift shop had a perfect Ecuador ring.

We head back to the hotel for a quick break before headed out to dinner.  I was full and was thinking about staying behind.  However, I went and had a lovely time.  Once we finished we raced back to our rooms to pack everything and leave our luggage downstairs.  Tomorrow at 5 am, it will be inspected by Galapagos authorities for seeds, grains, etc.  

We are off to bed soon, as it will be an early morning tomorrow.


PS Cheryl thought it was funny how we followed our tour leader who was carrying a sign up high all day.  She likened us to baby ducks following their mama.

Next: Missed Quito Tour Information
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