I think the term is Banana Republic. Anyway, someone told me that Ecuador produces about 60% of the banana harvest produced in the world. One thing I noticed on the trip through southern Ecuador is that there are a lot of banana plantations.
We stopped at the Ecuador immigration station a couple of miles before this picture was taken. We would stop at the Peruvian immigration station in a mile or so after it was taken. What I wondered was how anyone could possibly enforce border security in a town like this. It appeared to be pure chaos. What I found even more interesting was that the bus was going to try and make its’ way through this craziness.
I had no idea that so much of Peru was a desert. It seemed like the entire coast line from the Ecuadorian border to Lima was desert. I found it strange that the desert met the ocean for hundreds of miles. Here was all the dryness of the desert meeting all the wetness of the ocean. It was just such a contrast.
I was surprised by how new and modern the Quito bus station was. Plus, getting there was really simple. I just walked out of the hostel, turned right, walked a half-a-block, turned left, walked two blocks to the bus stop, caught one of the buses that ran every 5-10 minutes for about four blocks, then caught the trolley that ran across town and I was at the main bus station in about 30-40 minutes depending on traffic and ridership. The cost to get on each bus or trolley was 25 cents, bringing the total fare to 50 cents..It was a super bargain. The trolley also took me right through the Old Town. I disembarked for the historic district after about 15-20 minutes of travel coming back from the bus station. I liked the transportation system in Quito. It was simple, fast, efficient and reasonably modern. The city is lucky in that it is situated in a long valley and had 3 main lines that ran parallel through the valley and lots of feeder buses to feed the three main lines.
They had some beautiful churches in Quito. Catholicism is alive and well in South America. This church is referred to as Santo Domingo. It is situated on a large square that is also a stop on the Quito Trolley. Even better is the fact that it’s on the edge of Quito’s Old Town. The major churches of Quito are La Compania, Santo Domingo, San Francisco, La Merced, The Guapulo, La Catedral, San Agustin, El Sagrario and La Basílica. It would be an all-day job just to see them all.
I wound up in the Quito Main Square by accident. I just started walking around the Old Town and I eventually wound up there. The truth is that it’s hard to miss. Like most parks in Ecuador , it’s well maintained. On the weekends, there’s quite a crowd there. It’s a great place to stop and people-watch.
The Old Town of Ecuador is not only on the UNESCO World Heritage List, it was the first property to be added to the list. That strikes me as something of an honor. Now I’m not saying it’s the coolest Old Town I’ve ever been in. What I am saying is that I think Ecuador is worth a visit and, if you find yourself in Ecuador, you should make a visit to Quito. I was surprised how much there was to see and do there. But whatever reason you might use to justify a visit to Quito, it would be an absolute shame if you didn’t take some time and visit the Old Town. It’s one of those great walking-around experiences. Go get lost.
One of my disappointments is that I didn’t make the time to go and see the Quito Basilica. Lord knows it wasn’t because I couldn’t see it from miles away because I could. The architects that designed it made sure that people knew it was there. What’s even worse was that I kept getting reports from people who had gone there and walked up a few hundred steps to the very tip-top of the Basilica where I was told the views were simply incredible. Just don’t be there when the bells go off.
Okay, it was my first experience with a KFC Chicky Park. I hope it won’t be my last, although I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to see one again. Let’s face it, the term Chicky Park doesn’t exactly inspire confidence and it certainly doesn’t give the same type of impression as “finger-lickin’ good” does. But I don’t think it matters. People everywhere in the world buy the Colonel’s chicken and they seem to really like it.
A little background is in order. I needed to find the office of one of the international bus companies that operate out of Quito. Normally, when I’m looking for something I have an address. This time I didn’t. All I had was a dot on a map. Usually, that suffices. Get to the neighborhood, show the map around and pretty soon someone sends me right to the place. It’s a system I’ve used before This time it wasn’t working well. Remember, I speak very little Spanish and the neighborhood people speak very little English. In desperation I approached these two guys who were stopped on their motorcycles. They were great. They helped me find the place and because they were with me, the offices opened up when they appeared closed. The manager came out and I found out everything I needed to know as the officers helped me to translate. During all the time I was with them, these guys, who didn’t speak a lot of English, really seemed to take an interest in helping me. I felt like we formed something of a bond and did our part for international relations.