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Kilina’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 27 Jun 2007

Location: Quito, Ecuador

MapHi everyone!

I'm writing this from a computer at the University of Quito (free internet!). I came down here today with Ronald, who wanted to say goodbye to some friends of his, cos he's off to Mexico tomorrow. The university is gorgeous, it's set in a valley about 20 mins from Quito by bus, and according to Ronald this is where the wealthier people live. The surroundings are gorgeous, with a view of the mountains in the distance, and the university grounds are really lush and tropical, with palmtrees and flowerbeds and ponds all over the place! They even have a cute little Chinese style house where they teach classes like Thai Chi and Yoga!

Had a great day yesterday. After registering our visas, Marten, Christine and I walked through Quito to the historical centre (about 1/2 by foot, although it took us longer cos we stopped along the way). Christine's been to Quito several times, so she knows her way around quite well. The weather was lovely, so it was an ideal day for some siteseeing. We had a look inside a gorgeous Gothic church, and then went to the Basilica, where we spent about 2hours looking around! For an entrance fee of $2, you got to climb two of the towers, stopping off at several levels (including the bell tower), and got to actually walk round the outside of the entire building up on the ledge where the gargoyles are (no idea what it's called, but it's somewhere I'm sure you're not really supposed to go... at least not in Europe!). We took loads of pictures from the top, where you had a great view of Quito, and then stopped off for tea in a cafe in one of the towers overlooking the city. We must've seen almost every nook and cranny of the building! (I really wish I'd brought my camera connector with me, so I could've downloaded some pictures for you to see).

We then headed down to the centre, the Plaza de la Independencia, where a demonstration against deforestation of the rainforests was taking place in front of the Palacio de Gobierno, and it looked like Ecuatorians from all over the country had come to take part. We visited the Iglesia de la Compañia, one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen, and popped into a local 'centro comercial', where Gringas, or tourists, normally don't go, but where Christine had been before. We headed back to the plaza, still packed full of people, and then, after an exhausting day, decided to head home. Marten and I took the Trolebus (only $0.25 a ride!), where he got off several stops before me. I found my way back easily, and had a short rest before getting ready for dinner. Andrea had organised for all of the IEASTE students to get together in one of the hostals where a few of them are staying, and the two Greek girls were going to cook us dinner. At 8ish, Ronald drove me there, but he then had to leave to attend a family dinner back at home. Although I was one of the first to get there, the others soon started to arrive and soon the place was packed - there must've been about 25 of us, with people from all over: Paco from Malaga, Kristin and Phillip from Germany, another Phillip (and Christine, who I'd spent the day with) from Switzerland, Meg, Megan and Trevor from the US, Chloi and Eleni from Greece, Mia from Finland, Marten from Holland, and a bunch of people from Ecuador... A really nice mix. We had a delicious dinner of Greek meatballs, Tzatziki and salad, and then they put on Greek music and the two girls started to dance for us. We soon all joined in and had a great time dancing away till about midnight or so, when Andrea said she was gonna head home and I asked if she could give me a lift. What a fun day/night I had!

This morning I managed to talk with Maria Jose, my employer, from Andrea's office here at the University, who told me that I'd be getting a lift down to Cotopaxi wit her tomorrow morning. She said we'd be stopping off at a school in a local village on our way down, where Tierra del Volcan do community work (and where I think I'm going to be helping out too), before heading down to the Hacienda El Porvenir, where she's going to introduce me to everyone who works there. She said on Friday she's going to show me round the nature reserve, which apparently is about 1/2 hour's drive from the Porvenir, and on Saturday some sort of competition is going to take place there - I didn't quite get what kind of competition, but I'm supposed to be helping out there too! It all sounds very exciting!

Anyway, I'm off now to catch a bus back into town to buy myself a mobile phone and maybe have another wander around. I just bumped into Megan (the Michigan girl) who's studying here at the University, and who's invited me to go out with her tonight to some goodbye party for a Welsh friend of hers who's leaving tomorrow, so I might go along.

Goodbye for now xxx