Thursday, July 1, 2010
Convent of San Diego
Emilie and Sam did not arrive in the morning. Their plane was delayed again in Caracas. Of course there is always much to do in preparation to leave anyway, with more packing and organizing and cleaning and fixing up the apartment (all to the glorious sounds of Bach and Mozart and Massanet on the violin!). Finally around noon, Maya and I decided we needed to leave the house and explore some of Quito. It was a wonderful sunny Quito day, not too hot, not too cold, just enough sun and blue skies and very very inviting.
I had read about a new store in the Mariscal which specialized in all Ecuadorian food specialties; an Ecuadorian gourmet store. It had opened two weeks ago and I must start thinking of all the things I must bring back to Baltimore. Of course there are many good coffee brands and several types of chocolate, and aji (spicy sauce to put on everything) and even wine (which I have never tasted, I had no idea Ecuador produced wine). Maya and I decided on the chocolate we plan to buy, and will return to make purchases before we leave.
On any given day in Quito, I can't help but head toward the Centro Historico, and decided that I would again try to get to the Convent and Museum of San Diego. I have tried to walk there several times and am always dissuaded -- either several people warn me that the walk is too dangerous, or it feels wrong each time I try. This trip was to be by taxi, and even when I told the taxi driver where we were going, he suggested we go another museum, because where we were going was too dangerous. I insisted we get to our destination anyway and he dropped us off in front of the church.
Paintings and sculptures by famous Quiteño artists fill the rooms of the convent (accessible through thick doors opened by massive keys). We saw a typical priest's bedroom, the rectory, the kitchen, and the workrooms of the convent. The place was a treasure trove of colonial art and lifestyle, and I was delighted to have finally seen it.
I received a phonecall that Emilie and Sam had arrived at the apartment and were waiting for us, so we completed the tour (after seeing what was supposed to be an original Bosch painting) and dashed out of the church courtyard. No taxis were visible, and we risked a walk through the neighbourhood - without incident- until we found one and rushed home. It was wonderful to see our guests and catch up. They had traveled through Panama and Costa Rica and were to be in Ecuador for two weeks. We reviewed itinerary possibilities and decided that after they visit friends in Otavalo and Ibarra, they will visit Mindo, return to Quito, take the bus to Baños, bikeride to Puyo, bus it to Tena and then to Baeza and Papallacta and then back to Quito. I realized how much more of Ecuador I have yet to see and wished I could join them on their journey.