Last day of photos, I promise. I am starting to annoy myself with all the reminiscing. I feel like you’ve been sitting on my couch for weeks, eating stale popcorn and listening politely as I ramble and sort through slides from my latest vacation. Even I am falling asleep.
Tomorrow: we return to our previously scheduled cooking, crafting and domestic engineering programming, with a new athletic twist.

Today: Quito, the capital of Ecuador; the “middle of the world” — where the equator divides the northern and southern hemispheres; and Mindo, the cloudy forest.

Angel overlooking square

Quito is a pretty city and is warmer than La Paz or Lima. I felt safe wandering around, although we did stumble into a political rally where the police were just pulling out their gas masks. Thankfully, we stumbled away quickly enough. The older architecture in this city is fun to examine. Most buildings are quite detailed! I am fond of the large angel statue that looks over the city.

Indigenous woman, Quito

This indigenous woman was selling gum downtown. Isn’t her bright clothing beautiful?

Quito Basilica, 3

There are an impressive number of churches in Quito, including a basilica with amazing stained glass. I spent about 30 minutes going from window to window, admiring the stories told in this colorful medium.

Me, middle of the world

Thirty minutes south of Quito lies the “middle of the world,” or where the world is literally divided at 0 degrees latitude and 0 degrees longitude. There is an actual line that you can walk down (for a $4 entrance fee) and you wouldn’t believe how cool this line is. Did you know your natural balance is totally thrown off at the equator? This is where the force from the north and south poles collide and your natural equilibrium takes the toll. When trying to walk down the line, you get all wobbly, like you’ve had a couple gin and tonics for breakfast. We did several interesting science experiments on the line, discussing the earth’s natural pull. (balancing an egg on a nail, draining water without a whirlpool, etc.) It made me miss learning about science regularly.

Mindo, Ecuador

Mindo is a two-hour drive from Quito and is considered “cloudy forest.” It isn’t quite rainforest, but I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. We arrived at the national park and paid $3 to be shuttled across the tree tops to a neighboring mountain peak. Speaking of gin and tonics, now would be the perfect time. Not only would they help keep away the swarms of bugs, but you wouldn’t notice that you were performing a trapeze act above the rainforest canopy.

Us in the carrier

I’m smiling in this photo because I’m scared out of my mind. I’m about 500 feet in the air, in a tiny metal box on a cable that is being pushed across a giant valley below. The views were inspiring, but I wouldn’t do it again.

Lizard in the jungle

Some people see monkeys. I see little lizards and a pair of toucans. The birds were elegant, and strangely made me hungry for sugary cereal. I didn’t know what I had seen until they flew by. Alas, no photo. This guy, however, didn’t mind when I got my camera right in his face as he wolfed down a small bug.

Butterfly

More pretty flora and fauna.

Cacti on the equator

This beautiful cactus didn’t do anything to help my homesickness. I was ready to come back by the time we reached Ecuador. It is a lovely country, but not one I plan to visit again.
Next time I hit South America for work, I’m planning a week in Chile and a few days in Buenos Aires. I’ve always wanted to have an Eva Peron moment while actually in Argentina. Don’t cry for me…

~K