Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Public transit in Ecuador is nothing like back home. On each bus there is a conductor, the guy sticks is head out the door and shouts the various stops of that particular bus. Next just like on the bus to and from Baños, peddlers hop on an off pushing their wares. You have the music pumpin', and most importantly you pay when you get off the bus.

Well I made it back to old Quito on the bus.... YEAH!!! I walked down Calle de las Siete Cruces (Street of the seven crosses.) Starting at the basilica (oops, I forgot today is Ash Wednesday) I strolled my merry way along.

The churches were a zoo, so I didn't spend as much time inside as I would have liked. Quito has so many churches, monastaries, and convents. I could have realistically spent a couple weeks looking at these alone. I really want to come back, and this time bring the good camera, and tripod and take pics of the stained glass, the sculptures, etc. This kind of stuff we really don't see in western canada much. In Quebec yes, in the prairies not so much. There were also a bunch of little museums that I didn't get to hit either. And of course as you were strolling along, all these little shops.

As I was walking and looking at some of the souvenirs, this older guy comes up to me and says in english "Come with me." I'm a little doobious of course, but mildley curious. He said he had spent time in Toronto, of course, and he had "the best" souvenirs. OK, what the hell I follow him to his shop. and it was stacked with stuff from llama, alpaca, and cotton. Lots of traditional Ecuadoran garb, and some other stuff. He started handing me llama, but I want vicuña. I asked for alpaca first and he should me some stuff, so I put all the llama down. Then I asked for vicuña and he gave me some pieces (vicuña is the "finest" of the natural fibers, ~half the thickness of top graded alpaca, and ~third the thinkness of cashmere). There was this grey number that I thought would make a great gift for my friend cristina. I set it aside, but the texture was wrong for vicuña, I figured he was trying to hustle me. I ask him again vicuña and he says yes. So I set it beside me and he shows me many more things. I pick up the one I want and ask alpaca, and of course he says yes. He tried to sell me more stuff but I only had a little cash, he said he took credit cards but I knew better that do that.

After I left the shop, I found a bank, passed the armed guard (still can't get over that) and went to an ATM. Since I'm paranoid about the ATMs I do a test, I put my card in attempt to withdraw cash but I deliberately enter the wrong PIN. Most of the rigged machines, and POS systems will allow something to proceed even if you give it the wrong PIN. The machine gives me the appropriate response, I remove my card, and do it again, this time with the correct PIN, and top up my walking money. I'll watch my account closely when I get back home.

I visited the observatory museum. It has been a functional observatory since the 1750's. It was established by the French as they were doing their geodesic surveys. It was also a seismic observation facility since the 1820's. The place is still an active weather station and observatory for the university. It didn't realize that the french spent so much time there. things that make you go hmmm. Just as I finished the guided tour, my stomach started to boil. Uh Oh!!!

A mad dash for the restroom... made it .... sigh....The majestic sausage, and I didn't agree with each other. I managed to cab it back to Maria Cecilia's, I didn't need to risk an accident on the bus. I get inside and thought I was gonna die. Imagine me cold in the tropics!!! After a couple hours of discomfort lots of fluids and a mitt full of tylenol. I was feeling not so horrible. A couple of Ibprofene and my fever had finally broke, some of the burning in my guts had also subsided. I didn't resort to any immodium, or the ciprofoxin (a very strong antibiotic).

Ha, I think I might have beaten this bug, but if the fever hadn't broken, I would be whimpering like a little puppy and would have to give props to the superior latin immune system. I will see how I feel in the AM. Maria Cecilia took pity on me and made me a very yummy chicken soup. Thanks :). I've had food poisoning before so the first 12 hours I'm unhappy but I don't get in a twist over it.

Oooohhh and I slammed my finger in the restroom door at the Observatory Museum..... I see how I survive the night.

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