Today, I decided to just bang around town an take care of a few errands. After breakfast, which ends late for me because I try to get my clerical chores done before heading out, I decided that I needed better maps than the tourist maps I have now. They've served me well here in Quito, but shortly I'll be leaving for other parts of Ecuador, and points beyond. As a matter of fact, I've been able to get around Quito mapless relying instead on the friendly people walking the streets as I am. BTW, Quito is a city where people 'walk'. Sure, the busses are full, and there's crazy traffic everywhere, but the sidewalks are filled with people ready to help out clueless people like me in a heartbeat. Thank goodness.
So anyway, I decided to take a walk to "Instituto Geografica Militar" where you can buy official maps of any type for very little cash. It's on a military base which contributed an interesting dynamic to this excursion; i.e., getting through the front entrance. But the soldiers were all very polite; courteous; and had a genuine interest in helping me find what I wanted. You could tell the were cognizant of the fact that they were the face of Ecuador, and although they took that responsibility seriously, there too, existed a genuine component of their eagerness to help.
The walk to "Instituto Geografica Militar" though somewhat of a short distance, was quite a bit more than I had expected. I had to circumnavigate a hill via the steepest friggin' hill I've ever climbed. The road wound its way around the monstrous hill as a spiral would wind its way around a cone. They made you WORK for those maps.
Once there, I pathed my way through several helpful people, several wrong locations, and several pit stops along the way until I finally found "The Man of The Maps!"
We had a great visit, he explained all of the map types they had, carefully rolling out each one to show me personally. It was like doing research at the Vatican. And he took it just about as seriously!
I decided on a semi-touristy but wonderfully constructed map of Ecuador. I wanted to get a highly detailed map of Quito, which they had, and "The Man of The Maps" presented it to me as if he were presenting to me the fist edition of the bible. In all, this map was much too large for my purposes so declined that map.
That was, until I thought for a moment of how Estuardo (owner of Hostal Marsalla) is repeatedly asked "how do I get here?", "which direction is this?", how far is whatever?". I then realized this map I'd just been offered would suit Estuardo perfectly, should he mount it to the wall. Normally, he would respond to those questions I mentioned above by using whatever map the perplexed person asking the question happened to have on his person. This map fit the problem perfectly, and it's approximately 6ft. X 4ft.
I presented the map to Estuardo and his wife, and I could tell Estuardo was moved. Which in turn move me. The event made the entire day worth experiencing.
That all ended about 11:30a. After that I did some shopping for a few essentials I needed; buttons, skin lotion, and even found a knee brace that I'll probably end up buying. My right knee is giving me a little trouble. I think I might ought to spend the money to help ensure it doesn't get worse. That hike I took up to Pichincha seems to be the origin of the knee problem. A tendon, perhaps. I hope. There was a doctor from Amsterdam, staying here that gave me a quick look over, and said more probably than not, it was the trip "down" the hill that pulled a tendon, otherwise it would have to be a meniscus tear. I choose to believe the former. Knee brace just in case.
The rest of the day was spent looking for a travel agency that I will be willing to do business with to plan my bus trip up to Bogata. Search will commence again today.
...And finally, I ended up at Finn McCool's for a few glasses of wine and a great visit with my friend Tarek, from Tunisia. Seems I already have tour guide and place to stay when I should ever visit Tunisia. He's a great guy.
So there you have it for the 24th. I only took about six pictures, but they're up there waiting to be seen, by whoever wants too.