Happy New Year to all of you! We had an absolutely beautiful, sunny day here in Cuenca for a fabulous first day entrance into the year of 2016. It was so tranquil to walk along the tree-lined Avienda Ordonez-Lazzo, the Rio Tomebamba, the park-like setting of Third de Noviembre; and to simply observe the interplay of light and shadows along the pathways, how lush and interlaced were the leaves on the trees, as were the full spread of flowers both singularly and on the bushes. I had the same experience about two weeks ago as well on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Today brought me into the almost perfect quietude of El Centro on what has to be the least day of almost nonexistent traffic and the fewest pedestrians of the entire year. A perfect day for immersion into quiet meditation, and for enjoyment in being in the moment in this peak of our summer season.
December cap-stoned for me a great year, and could not have ended on a higher note than when my son, Marc, came to visit with me in Ecuador for the first time. We had to overcome two previous failures to pull-off his visit in the previous two years, and then our third setback with plans that went awry when we intended to vacation together in Italy last spring. Nonetheless, on the eighth of December, I met Marc at the airport in Quito. On that evening and over the next two days we would spend our time in the historic area of Quito, during the first phase of our tour to various areas of Northern Ecuador.
When I first moved to Cuenca in March of 2011, I spent the first four days in the historic area of Quito before traveling to Cuenca. Quito's historic area is larger than Cuenca's, and also was a UNESCO recognized site as a historic city prior to Cuenca's recognition. I enjoyed the historic area then; but was for whatever reason, even more impressed with Quito's El Centro now.
Marc and I stayed at a very comfortable bed-and-breakfast with modern guest rooms within the context of its historic outer courtyard and public settings, which is called Casa El Eden. The bread-and-breakfast is operated by a wonderful and gracious family; Mario, Blanca, and Mario, Jr.; and yes, they serve a fine and substantial breakfast as well. We simply stepped out the door of Casa El Eden, and we were in the midst of historic Quito. A short walk from Casa El Eden and we were at the Plaza Grande, which is also known as Plaza Independencia (Independence Square).
It was a clear flight at dusk from Cuenca to Quito as I arrived to meet Marc at the airport, as he also just arrived from a week in Vienna. At first, while in flight; it appeared as if I saw an island in the midst of the ocean, which of course, was impossible.
Getting a closer look, it was a magnificent view of the mountain top peaking out above the clouds over the Andes. The trip was so quiet and fast, that the one hour flight only took thirty-five minutes.
After getting settled in Casa El Eden, Marc and I made our way to a court yard of shops and restaurants that had been recommended by Mario. Marc had his first Ecuadorian meal, and being in the historic district that caters to tourist, I guess I should not have been surprised at the sticker shock of eating in restaurants in Quito compared to Cuenca. However, I was. Especially since Cuenca has the reputation for the highest-cost-of-living in Ecuador.
Plaza Grande or Plaza De Independencia was our next stop after refueling ourselves. The photos below are of the square and the buildings that surround the square at night time.
The next three photos are of the Cathedral located on the square, which was built in (1562-1567), and is the oldest cathedral in South America.
Below is the Presidential Palace. (Palcio Carondelet)
Plaza De Independencia is the center core of Quito in a psychological, cultural, and historic way, in much the same way as Parque Calderon is in Cuenca.
At the very center of Plaza De Independencia is the monument known as Heros de la Independencia, which was build in the 1906. Quito is known as the Light of America. Here began the conflicts the would spread across the South American colonies to gain their independence from Spain.
The final photo below is one of the streets that has been converted into a plaza where people can walk without the intrusion of mobile traffic. Much the same is being discussed by city planners in Cuenca, by closing off some streets to traffic and converting them into pedestrian malls.
So much of Quito in the historic district is lit up that it made for an enjoyable stroll on a nice evening.