|Conquistadors were here|
I woke feeling very stiff. My legs are still resenting yesterday's long bus ride. Our bed, though comfy, is also solid and not helping to ease the aches and pains. We spent the morning catching up on diaries and uploading information onto our website. We have a free, but slow, internet connection in our room. The shower here is the best so far. The water pressure is too high to have it on full pelt. My oohs and aahs prompted Stef to ask me if I had someone in there with me. It is one of those that is so good you could just stand for hours letting the water pound your body.
It was about 2pm before we finally made it out. We headed to the centre of Quito's old town, now protected as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. The earlier cities were destroyed by the Incas before the Spanish got their hands on it so the centre is colonial Spanish in style. As its Sunday, traffic is barred for most of the day so it is easy to amble around. The downside of it being Sunday is that most places are closed so it is really just full of people passing the time of day.
We followed the walking tour in Lonely Planet, taking in the Plaza de la Independencia, home to the Governors Palace and Cathedral, and then went up to Plaza San Francisco. One side of this square is taken up by a church and monastery. The church was very ornate inside, again prompting mutterings from me about the wealth of the Catholic church. We headed down and past the Museo de la Ciudad heading for La Ronda, the oldest colonial street in Quito. Lonely Planet said the area was a bit dodgy but being improved so we though it would be OK, but not so. A security guard from the museum car park told Stef to put his camera away. Another passer by told us not to go into La Ronda so instead we went up onto a bridge to take pictures of it.
As we did this a lady in the street was waving to us and motioning for us to go away. Stef, oblivious, kept preparing his camera shot. Behind us I could also see the security guard watching us and still being wary. We back tracked to the museum, still being told by the security guard that it was dangerous and to put our camera away. He did not leave us until we were back at the museums main entrance. Apparently the area is still not safe and it is common for armed muggings to take place.
I found this disturbing and a bit hard to believe, so did Stef. It looks no more dangerous than Montevideo, Lima, Asuncion or London but obviously not. We were cautioned to only walk on streets where security guards were present which somewhat limits your options. We rejoined the Lonely Planet guided walk (no security in sight!) but it was getting close to 5:00pm and even more places would be closed. We felt it was too early to go back to the hotel and headed back to the main square.
The square was probably more full of people now than it was earlier. Both a bit unsettled by the security warnings we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel after all. On the way to get a taxi though we saw an empty horse and cart and decided to go for a ride. It was a totally tacky tourist thing to do but it was a laugh, especially when the horse almost took out a policeman. The route pretty much took us around what we had already walked but it was still fun.
Back at the hotel we asked for a recommendation of where to go for dinner. Rincon la Rona serves typical food and is in the book (Lonely Planet). It is two blocks away. We will be escorted there and will have to get a taxi back! We asked if it was really necessary and were told that it was too dangerous for us to walk alone. There are a couple of restaurants opposite and two doors up from our hotel. We reckon we would be escorted there too!
We spent more time trying to get the website up to date and then headed out. A taxi took us to the Rincon but it turned out to be pricey and somewhat more formal than we were after. Stef sneaked a peak in through the door and decided it was not for us. We went back to the hotel to ask for another recommendation. The night cap at reception was not much help. All he kept saying was "its Sunday and lots of places are closed. I do not know where you can go." We ended up back at the Cuban place we went to last night. More garlicky food! My tummy is still rebelling from yesterday's garlic. It was quiet in the restaurant last night (odd for a Saturday) but even quieter tonight. For most of the time we were the only people in there.
We were escorted back to the hotel and crashed.