So, our last day in Quito was probably one of my favorites. A delicious final breakfast at our “base” hotel and then off for some sightseeing adventures. We were supposed to ride a cable car down Pinchinca Volcano, but due to a dangerous lightning storm, out plans were altered.
We got to visit the largest cathedral in all of the Americas–it was huge and took up 7 city blocks. The most amazing part of the cathedral was the gargoyles because they were all animals native to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. There were tortoises, iguanas, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, and pelicans! We had the chance of climbing the clock tower and one of the other steeples where we had a view of the entire city. Here is a picture of some of us after climbing one of the steeples.
We later visited the main square and saw where the president lives. Following that, we did my favorite activity on the trip–bargain for souvenirs at a local market. The entire market was composed of approximately 150 merchants selling everything from t-shirts and jewelry to scarves, clothing, and blankets made from alpaca fur. It is expected that you bargain so I did just that! Apparently by bargaining, they did not mean “cut the price in half” but that is what I tried to do.
There is an entire strategy to bargaining–the merchant offers you a price, you pretend that it is ridiculously expensive and offer a much lower price, they say you are crazy so you walk away. Then you hope they yell back at you and lower their price a little more. It ended up being a comedy act. The experience was incredible to the point where Dr. M decided to tell some of us that we needed counseling after the adventure.
The already perfect day was completed by a farewell dinner. It was as if we had been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner on steroids. They started off with delicious, hand-squeezed and prepared juices. Then, they brought out Lima beans and kernels of what seemed to be partially popped popcorn seeds. From there, they served more beans, corn on the cob, empanadas, and a plate of cheese, among other typical food.
Imagine–this was just for the appetizer portion. From there we had breaded chicken stuffed with cheese and spinach with sides of potatoes, rice, and kiwi. When you thought it had to be over, they brought out trays of deep-fried plantains (they were to die for) and finished it off with a bowl of sliced peaches garnished with a strawberry. We all happily waddled home after the feast. But, it was the most amazing day we could have hoped for!
Hopefully it wasn’t farewell, but rather see ya later, Ecuador!
Civil and Environmental Engineering 2013