Thursday, May 27, 2010
Our project today was to return to the Convention Centre at Eugenio Espejo and take photos and videos of the space in preparation for the 2014 'Neuroethology' meeting proposal. Eric has looked at the Hilton Hotel, the Casa de la Culture, the St. Augustin Monastery and Universidad Catolica as other possible venues, but the renovated hospital is the best option. It is big enough to handle the whole meeting, so that participants do not have to move from venue to venue throughout the five days of the meeting. It is self contained and has every modern convenience, at least all that are relevant to an international meeting, such as Wifi, huge screens and video technology, and is a beautiful colonial structure that is pleasing to the eye, and has wonderful views of the city from its walkways and balconies. I sound as if I am trying to sell this event. Eric will be making a proposal at the Neuroethology meeting in Salamanca, Spain, the first week of August.
We took the Ecovia to the Casa de la Cultura, which is across the street from the Hilton, and timed our walk to the Convention Centre, which was less than ten minutes, but we were walking briskly. We met Felipe, who will be organizing all sorts of pre and post meeting trips to the Galapagos and the Jungle.
Of all the places we have considered for the meeting, my choice has always been Eugenio Espejo. It is grand and new (the renovation is two years old), it has wonderful spaces, and is self contained, well preserved, and functional. The only downside is that the buildings around it are rundown and unattractive, but that is not different from many parts of Quito. I just try to ignore the eyesores and focus on what is beautiful, and if there is nothing immediately visible that pleases the eye, I simply look upward toward the mountains, which are always a treat to see.
We wandered through large and small rooms, taking photos and movies, asking questions of our guide Pablo, who reassured us. The convention centre was in use today, at least a couple of rooms, by the convention bureau of the city, but this was the first time I actually saw it being utilized. There were students studying on the grassy spaces. I learned that the Universidad Central Medical School is just next door, and that the students use the grounds to rest or read or study. It made sense, since the new Eugenio Espejo Hospital is right next door to the old one.
It is difficult to imagine this gorgeous building as a hospital. Our guide explained that the renovation used the original designs of the rooms and did not move walls or change the layout of the old medical structure, but that was hard to imagine, until he explained that the large rooms were divided by curtains. We visited the old kitchen downstairs in the basement, which once fed all the patients and staff. Pablo was very proud of the wheelchair accessibility. It is rare in Ecuador and in Quito for any spaces to be wheelchair accessible. I imagine that to be acceptable to European and American standards, and to be sufficiently modern, being 100% wheelchair freindly is necessary.