Woke up late this morning. Each hour I awoke, catching glimpses of the sun rising. The shadows danced on the grass, casting dark remembrances onto the green. At 8:20, our whole group meandered to the restaurant. We ate a breakfast of dried apples, oatmeal, watermelon and granola in buzzed anticipation. We all wondered at the wonders we were bound to witness.
We embarked on a bus for Quito. I felt a rush of exhilaration. How would people be living here? How would they talk, how would they dress, how would they live? We rushed through a myriad of colors, so saturated and bursting with life. We bounded past large expansions of spacious crops, ravines deep and dangerous and thrilling, a truck full of chicken. I marveled at the trees. They were just so green. Back in California, trees have a barely there green, the grass; withering. But in Ecuador, the plants are nothing short of brilliant.
As we came closer to Quito, we seemed to soar for a moment. We were nearing a more impoverished region. I had never seen so many houses in such close proximity to one another. They expanded far up the mountain in hues of whites, blues, yellows. Bright colors splashed across the natural landscape. Concrete choking the greenery. Yellow glittered underneath the beaming sun.
We entered Quito, walking through streets and running past cars. The streets were narrow, the sidewalk; a sliver. We bonded in a park, spread out on the grass, playing name games. Our lunch was in a lively, jovial market " they sold exotic fruits, chocolates, and toilet paper all at a low, low price. A dollar for a pitahaya, a couple cents for a portoho. We gouged on mangos and strawberries. For lunch, we devoured fish with fritas, avocado and ceviche. Ceviche was served with popcorn and tostado. We had a multitude of juices " coco, naranjilla, albaca, mora, and flesa. Each was delicious, with a freshness, you just cant beat.
We soon embarked on a grand adventure to the Basilica Cathedral. The Neo-Classical architecture was beautiful, with mighty statues of Galapagos animals and holy angels. These figures represented Quito’s beauty. At the Cathedral, we underwent a tremendous climb to the top of the high towers " a testament to ones faith, valor, and others scribbled adolescent love. The walls were filled with young love. As one ascended into the apexes of towers, one could witness the scrawled declarations of love adorned on the rails. It was truly exhilarating being up there " you could see the whole expansion of Quito. The streets, the houses, the people doing laundry. Wow. You felt like Gods eye, an archangel observing the world in its pursuit of happiness.
As we boarded the bus for the next church (La Compaia), I saw food vendors barbecuing and spending time with family. It was refreshing to see, and feel, the communal atmosphere as everyone ate with their loved ones, while also occasionally making a profit.
We reached La Compaia " a church covered in gold. I had never been in such a beautiful place. The walls, statues and ceilings were smothered in gold. Angels gazed down at us from the rooftops. A grandiose door kept out the evil, while keeping the good inside. While the outside of the church may appear albeit modest, the interior was royally grand and magnificent. A painting depicting the Final Judgment welcomed us, as God decided whether citizens would go to heaven or hell. On the opposite end of the room was a solemn, morbid painting portraying a multitude of sins the culprits are condemned to Hell and torture. Anywhere you go, their eyes would watch you. In the eyes of our tour guide, They have sinned. Will you?
We concluded our day at the Presidents Palace, watching the nightlife scene come to life. Bright lights illuminated the Churches, people meandered the streets. I thought of the churches drenched in gold, the reflecting light rebounding off the rich metal. The whole church was illuminated. Glowing. I believe Quito is like that. A glowing city. A city of Gold reflecting against the wealthy topiaries of the mountains.