South America: Touched the sky
Sunday, August 29, 2010 4:52:23 PM
Mariscal, the area where I stay, is said to be the most modern part of Quito. But it's not actually so modern. You don't find any fancy buildings here. I like the placve because it's the most buzzing part of the city, full of young people and travellers. The architecture is horrible though. I would call it a concrete hell. If it reminds me anything it's Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
Mariscal is a part of the new town. The old town is very different. Streets are narrower and buildings seem to be significantly older and more beautiful. Ecuador is very religious country and there are many old churches in the old town. I decided to check out the biggest one which looked like a classic cathedral. There was an admission to the tower. I thought there could be a nice view of the city, so I gave them two bucks and went up. I expected something like St. Vitus Cathedral. You know, some stairs, balcony with a view and that's it. I went up to the third floor and there was a kinda wooden bridge going across the church between the ceiling and the roof. The church was heavily damaged by earthquake and they had to rebuild it. But all the new stuff didn't seem very stable to me. At the end of the bridge, there was a ladder up to the tower. It didn't look very stable either. When I got on the tower my fear of highs rules my body. Unfortunately, it wasn't the end. There were pretty steep stairs, almost a ladder, outside the body od the tower going to the upper level. I was gathering the courage for a few minutes and climbed up. The next level had just 50cm high banisters. I didn't even dare to stand up and took pictures kneeling. South America simply goes beyond everyday's experience.
The steep stair at the basilique
I saw some cable car going up and down on the biggest mountain around Quito which was new to me because I didn't have a clue there was such a thing. So I stopped a cab and ordered to go there. The mountain turned out to be Pichincha volcano. The cable car climbed up to 4,050 m on the flanks of Pichincha. Whant is absolutely illegal in the EU (double prices) is normal here. Foreigner had to pay twice more than citizens of Ecuador. It was totally worth it though. I got up to about 4,150 m which is the highest altitude I have ever been at. After I'd gotten used to the altitude in Quito I couldn't breath again.
Quito from Pichincha.
I spotted a couple up there and thought they must be Czechs. Sure they were. They have been traveling around South America for five months and Quito was their last destination. Just before Quito, they were in Galapagos and said it'd been the most beautiful place in South America - a paradise. Too bad I don't have time to go there. Nevermind, it's expensive as hell. They paid $400 for a flight ticket, $100 for entrance, and $950 for a week cruise.
I must say I haven't found Quito as dangerous as it's described in travel guides. Of course, I'm trying to avoid the really dangerous areas, but I haven't had any problem in the centre. There are cops everywhere here. We will see tomorrow when I'm going to use public transportation which is not recommended for tourists at all.
The second night in the hostel was fun. We got three Americans in the room. One was an older guy who's been living in Central and South America for a while and sas he is glad to be outside the USA where there is no fun any more. In the middle of the night, two American girls came, on from Chicago, the other one from D.C. When everyone'd fallen asleep we were waken up by strange noise. There was a guy standing in our room and trying to get to someone's bed. He was apparently heavily intoxicated. He didn't succeed with the girls, so he went to the Columbian's bed which was funny because he didn't refuse him. But meanwhile the American guy had gone call hostel staff and the drunk local guy had to leave and the fun was over