A free day at last - we can do exactly the things we want. No schedule at all . . . except that we have a 4:30 am pick-up on Wednesday morning for our flight to Baltra, Ecuador, an island of the Galapagos and our entrée to the others. This means we must make ourselves tired enough to fall asleep early to get a good night's sleep before a 3:30 am alarm.
Before we get into anything else, I want to talk about food. Yes, like those in Peru, the people here love Guinea Pig (Cuy) too, and the Ecuadorians also love their white rice, corn and plantains. Corn is served in many variations. My personal favorite is the very large kernel variety, steamed and served in one-inch sections of corn-on-the-cob. Yes, one-inch is plenty. This giant corn is yummy—a bit more starchy than our corn-on-the-cob but sweet and chewy. Plantains can arrive on your plate in untold manners of dish preparations too. Sometimes fried thin slices of plantains accompany the meal. Sometimes logs of mashed, then fried plantains are served, but most surprisingly some are served in dishes one would never suspect as being plantain. Two dishes I particularly enjoy are Balon Verde (Fried Green Plantain dumplings—just Google that recipe, and Quimbolitas. Both are recipes that should be made and served only on special occasions as they cannot possibly contribute to a heart-healthy diet on a daily basis. But oh are they won-der-ful!! I'll add them to my category of favorite but seldom enjoyed treats like Grandma's Fruit Cake, her Coconut Cake or Meat Pies from Brighton, England.
Well we did it again. Give us a free day and we don't rest. We walked our butts off. Remember, Quito is a city built on a small plateau with mountains and valleys all around. We walked to the Jardin Bontanico de Quito situated on the south end of the Parque la Carolina. Not too bad - it was early in the day and we had a mapa. The Quito Botanical Garden was not disappointing. It was really well-done and the weather today was fantastic. We packed rain gear but we certainly did not need it. For those of you who enjoy photos of flowers, you are in for a treat. If flowers are not your cup of tea you might not enjoy today's photo post.
Next, we were still feeling pretty energetic and taxis were not easy to grab so we said, what the heck, let's walk to the Guayasamin Museo. This museum sits on a hill across the broad valley from our hotel. As a crow flies the distance is not too bad, but walking . . . whew, it is a long way up hill, serious hills! We had to take several breather-breaks along the way. Just as we were nearing the museum area, we met two young women, students from Argentina, who were walking up the hill as well. We instantly liked them and we chatted with them, sharing travel stories the rest of the way, making the uphill journey much less miserable. We didn't get the girls' names, but they were smart and fun to be with. They are studying at the university and have been on a 45-day backpack trip through Columbia and Ecuador. Today was their last day. As we toured the museum together, one of the girls treated us to a lovely piece on the grand piano in the Guayasamin home and later, they both giggled when we were shown his collection of erotic art.
Oswaldo Guayasamin is a famous Ecuadorian contemporary artist who not only gained fame for creating art depicting the sadness of anger, cruelty and oppression in the world but also gained fame as a prolific collector of historic Spanish and South American art from all over the world. Guayasamin was known as the Picasso of Ecuador and was famous for his use of cubism.
As stated in Wikipedia, in 2002, three years after his death, Guayasamín's masterwork, La Capilla del Hombre ("The Chapel of Man"), was completed and opened to the public. The Chapel is meant to document not only man's cruelty to man but also the potential for greatness within humanity. It is co-located with Guayasamín's home in the hills overlooking Quito.
Tomorrow --- a wake-up at 3:30 am, oh yukky! But we look forward to experiencing the wonders of the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador!!