Day 1 – Monday, May 9
Our adventure began when we met our companions at the airport at 4:00am. After a two-hour flight (a first for the two of us!), we landed in Miami, FL for a five-hour layover. In Miami, we ate lunch at the News Cafe right across from the beach. While we waited for our food, we ran and played in the ocean. The food was great, especially the key lime pie!
After lunch, it was back to the airport for a four-hour flight to Quito. When we touched down in Ecuador, we met our guide, Miguel, for the first time. We saw our first glipses of the city as we drove to our hotel, which is beautiful! After settling in, we took a walk around the city and ate dinner at a small restaurant called the Magic Bean, where we experienced our first taste of Ecuadorian food and became closer with Miguel.
Day 2 – Tuesday, May 10
Our first full day in Ecuador began at 7:00am with breakfast at the hotel. At 7:30, we left for a tour of Quito, starting with the Bassilica which is the largest church in Quito. Miguel shared with us some of the history surrounding the churches, such as the interconnecting underground tunnels used by Catholics to travel in secret, avoiding their conquerers. We then walked to Independence Square, where we saw the President’s and Mayor’s house and the Bishop’s palace. We were even allowed to walk on the President’s porch, where he sometimes delivers speeches. There we witnessed the changing of the guards, a long-standing Ecuadorian tradition. Afterwards, we walked to San Francisco Square, where the Saint Francis Church is located. After a little shopping, we reboarded our bus.
Our next stop was the statue of the Virgen de El Panecillo which overlooks the city. We climbed the base of the statue to a ledge with a spectacular view of Quito and the surrounding area. However, not even this could compare to the view offered at our next stop, a tram ride to the top of an inactive volcano in the Andes Mountains. After lunch, we traveled to El Museo de Sitio Intinan, a museum on the equator. The tour was interactive and explained many popular science facts, such as whether it is possible to balance an egg on the equator (Apparently it is!), and that the direction that draining water swirls is affected by which hemisphere it is in. This also explains why tornadoes and hurricanes never occur on the equator. We also saw relic calendars and clocks, and we learned about some indigenous tribes, such as the Waorani, who are well-known for their practice of head-shrinking.
The group is functioning very well together, and we can’t wait for the rest of the trip!
Rachael and Anthony