This neighborhood where Jose lives is very posh. His apartment and views are a good indicator, but there are other giveaways: broad, tree-lined streets with very nice Audis and Mercedes parked along them, beautiful apartment buildings with expensive shops and services located at their feet, and more than anywhere else, the extremely high number of security guards everywhere.
The rest of the city is well-populated with security as well, but here it’s quiet and the security guards open doors and gates, give directions, and check on unexpected arrivals. They are the few darker faces in sight. Most of the Ecuadorians in this neighborhood seem to be of strong European descent, and there are few of the native features to be seen.
We had breakfast in the posh Sweets and Coffee next door, although I’m not sure it’s fair to call it breakfast. Matt had a muffin and a cappuccino. I had an americano and a cheesecake.
Afterward, we hiked down the hill to catch the bus to the historic center. The center was very different. Almost everyone looked native American, and the shops were full of cheap and colorful things. I was surprised to see many people of clear African descent, although in retrospect it doesn’t make sense.
We went to the Plaza Grande, where we sat like everyone else to people watch, until it began to rain.
When it began to rain, we walked up the hill until it started really coming down. Eventually, we ducked into a covered courtyard with various restaurants and a couple of shops, and made our way upstairs where we had a light lunch.
For lunch, I ordered a trio of steamed things and the cheapest cocktail on the menu, the name of which I’ve forgotten, but it was served hot, tasted like apple juice and sugar, and was delicious. Matt ordered a soup, a plate of fried corn mush with guacamole, and a beer. My things were served with more of this Ecuadorian salsa, like what we had yesterday. I used all of it!
It was still pouring when we finished, so we went first to the cathedral steps, where I took some pictures of passers by in the rainy Plaza Grande, then into the cathedral itself. No pictures allowed inside, I’m afraid.
It was still raining, so we went to the Casa del Alabado, which exhibits ancient indigenous arts and tries to explain their significance in terms of the spiritual beliefs of the people. It was a beautiful building and we really enjoyed the exhibit as well. I’m going to show you some of what we saw, although my better judgement tells me I’m being silly. The ones I liked the very best did not work too well with no flash, but they involved figures buried to their waist, representing emergence from the underworld.
After the museum, we wandered along the plaza there, behind the monastery. People were playing with the pigeons.
Then we returned to the bus, to Jose’s apartment, rested, spoke with Jose for a while, went for dinner down the street at a film rental pace converted to a trendy posh cafe/jazz bar, and now we’re resting in bed. Jose has friends over, and we were invited to join, but we’re feeling tired and needing quiet and space.
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