The final stop on the South American leg of our journey - and on the equator would you believe we're in low cloud and 16 degrees. More to come soon.
As this really was the last days of our travels proper we pushed the boat out and stayed at the Hotel Quito which is set in lovely gardens at the top of a hill and has wonderful views across the city (but with all the low cloud around we only caught tantalising glimpses every now and again). Only having a couple of days here the main thing we wanted to see was the beautiful old city which has retained its colonial buildings and streets. So we spent and enjoyable few hours browsing around the streets and popping into some of Quito's many wonderful churches - the interior of La Compania was particularly stunning (couldn't take photos, unfortunately).
The following day we took a taxi and set off 23 kms north of the city where the equator, or Mitad del Mundo, is located. There are actually two places which claim to be the equator, the first at the town of Pinchincha was determined by the first French explorers who came to Ecuador, and the second about 150 metres away which has been determined by modern day GPS. This is now part of a quaint ethnically diverse museum and with little time on mainland Ecuador it was interesting to see and her much more about the peoples and country. Naturally, photos were take with legs akimbo, north and south of the real equator.
Quito is a stunning city which does not reflect Ecuador's extreme poverty (70% of the population live well below the poverty line). Also we did not see the very poor (slum?) areas that we saw in Lima and some other South American cities. However, one of the most significant aspects of Quito is the level of crime, in particular robberies, and travelleers/tourists are warned accordingly. If you hadn't been warned before arriving, you most certainly would become aware of the numbers of armed private guards and police on streets and at buildings. At times it is disconcerting and it is such a shame that such a beatiful city with buildings colourfully lit at night should not be able to be explored safely. We didn't see and cime but people we met previously had experienced several thefts and hold ups themselves. But that will not stop us from returning and seeing more of Quito and Ecuador as soon as are able.
Lots of love
E & M xxxx