Monday, May 3, 2010

Up High

San Augustin and Santo Domingo from the Basilica

I was up all night agonizing about our renters and their decision to break their lease, so I wrote them an email this morning appealing to their sense of honor. I heard from them later in the day explaining that they have had a frustrating time in the house; the dishwasher, washer, refrigerator and stove all broke down, water leaked into the basement, there was a mice infestation, there was no heat on the top floor, and the windows and doors in the main floor didn't keep out the cold air. The list went on and on and although I still wish they would honor the contract, I understand their perspective and hope that now I can be a bit calmer about our circumstances . Of course, we have to figure out how to live for the next few months, but we are so much more practiced at living with less, I truly believe we will be fine.

I was too agitated to sit still after I wrote the email, so despite the gray skies and threatening clouds, I headed out for my daily walk in the Centro Historico. I was interested in visiting a workshop near Santo Domingo, where young people are trained to restore colonial artifacts and paintings. It is also a museum, but today no one was working and the museum was closed, so I will add the 'Taller' for another day. Santo Domingo was open, which is a rare event, so I spent some time in the church, which is somewhat disorganized and disjointed in style. It has the usual gold covered baroque altars, but they lack cohesion. I did not feel serene in the church, but it was quite full of people praying individually, clearly finding solace and peace.

La Merced

I walked across to La Merced to check on the Museum of Colonial Art (just around the corner), which has has been closed for renovation for five years and is opening this month, but of course that could mean anything. I see advertisements about it and it has a website, but there is no information about when it will actually open. It was closed today, but that could be because it is Monday and most museums are closed on Mondays. I found my way up the hill to the Basilica, which is a rather ugly neo-Gothic church built in the early 1900's. Its most endearing feature is the use of Ecuadorian and Galapagos animals as gargoyles and orchids in the stained glass windows. I have never climbed up to the tower and had no idea what I was getting myself into. The first few flights of stairs were inside a tower to the first two levels, which was not too frightening, but at the third level, I walked across the spine of the church roof to a ladder which led to an outside balcony. More ladder like stairs led to another tower. I ascended further to the belltower, climbing higher and higher, with incredible views of the city in each direction.

View to the East

I tried to focus on the forever views in each direction, although the skies were grey and threatening, and while in the tower the rain started softly, but by the time I was out of the tower, it was pouring down. It is 'winter' now in Quito, with daily afternoon downpours, and it is so much colder than it has been these past several months. I understand that this is the usual winter weather which never happened this year, so no one knows how long this will last.

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