Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and the second biggest city.  What’s unusual is that it’s at  9,000 feet.  As a result it’s cool, even on the Equator, and there’s a tendency to get a touch of altitude sickness initially, though we were lucky this did not happen.

Panorama from Virgen De El Panacillo
Panorama from Virgen De El Panacillo

A 30 second video, shot from the shoulders of the Virgin Mary Statue, is available here: http://youtu.be/GcF3ub-fjnU

It’s a long narrow city, centered on the “old town”, and surrounded by barrios perched on the shoulders of the surrounding mountains.  It is the most hilly city we have encountered with hills that challenge San Francisco’s and Seattle’s.

The people are a mix of Spanish and indigenous, and about 5% are pure indigenous “Quinta”.  Tourists comprise very few, well less than 1% of the population.

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Indian women take great pride in their wardrobe.

Walking around Quito, the primary impression one gets is of the power of the church.  One street is called La Avenida de siete isquelas, and sure enough there are 7 churches on it.  One of the churches is coated almost entirely with gold leaf. Interestingly, we saw many many statues of the Virgin Mary, but almost none depicting Christ.

In addition, high on a prominent hill, stands a gigantic statue of the Virgin Mary, with wings.

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