Monday was our last full day in Quito. We decided to head to a cafe so that we could plan our day while drinking hot chocolate and eating humitas. Humitas are similar to Mexican tamales, but any Ecuadorian will tell you that they are NOT tamales. They are sweeter, a little more bready than tamales, and contain cheese. They were delicious.
For our last day we decided to visit the artisan handicrafts market, the telefériqo, and the Capilla del Hombre.
The artisan market - called Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal - was a colorful rainbow of embroidered cloth, bags, clothing, leather, hats, etc. It was beautiful to look at. Everything in Ecuador is so colorful. Michael bought a gift for his sister, and I got a headband and new wallet. I think I’m going to head back to get a traditional embroidered belt the local women use to cinch dresses.
After a short taxi ride, we arrived at the telefériqo. The telefériqo is a gondola that takes you to the top of a nearby mountain. When we got to the top, we were at 13,000 feet above sea level. The view of Quito was stunning. It was really amazing to see just how big and sprawling Quito really is. At the top we were able to hike around and came across a swing set in the middle of nowhere. It was such a unique experience to swing above the city. It almost felt like I was flying. While we were up there, we met a couple from Panama who were the 2019 world futbol freestyle champions. For my friends who are not familiar with soccer, this means that they were really good at juggling a soccer ball with their feet. We learned that they were going to Miami in a few weeks and then to Colombia for different futbol freestyle tournaments. They were doing some cool tricks with the soccer ball on top of the mountain.
We took another taxi to the Capilla del Hombre. This is the home, studio, and museum of Ecuador’s most famous artist, Oswaldo Guayasamín. He was famous while he was alive, so he had enough money to build his own studio and collect art. His home and collection were stunning - almost like a piece of art themselves. I would gladly move into his house! His home is all white with huge dark wooden ceiling beams. The public rooms were filled with pre-Colombian and religious art, while his bedroom was filled with modern art masters such as Picasso and Goya. It was interesting to see his work, what he collected, how he set up his house, and his studio. It was like a glimpse into the artist’s mind. In his studio we were shown a video of him painting a portrait and then when we turned around, the portrait was in the studio! It only took him one hour to do a portrait, and since he was so fast, he was very prolific. The attached museum had a ton of his paintings, and three different gift shops sold originals and prints of his work.
That night at dinner we talked as a group. Conversation around the dinner table was very interesting, because we were able to hear the political and economic history of Ecuador from a local.
Unfortunately, we had to go to bed early because part of our plan was to leave for the airport at 5am, so 5am wakeup call it is!