Ecuador's Galapagos Islands - 2003

CAPITAL CITY—QUITO The flight to Quito (on May 3) with a stopover in Guayaquil took just over two hours and was smooth and dramatic as we flew above the Andes and even saw Cotopaxi quite clearly (like most high volcanoes & mountains, it makes its own weather and is usually hidden in clouds). It is a perfect cone-shaped volcano draped in bright green foliage, a surprise to our now desert-accustomed eyes. Actually, the Andes Range where we flew was quite green and lush looking. Our city tour of “Old Quito” took place an hour after we had checked into the Hilton Colon Quito hotel. Unfortunately because Ecuador is so poor, 70% of the population lives in poverty; therefore, crime has increased exponentially and parts of the city are not safe for tourists or anyone really. So we had to cover the old part of Quito before darkness fell so we could be back into the hotel before the criminals took over the city.

Maria, our guide, took us first to Independencia Plaza (the Grand Plaza as it is sometimes called) to see the Spanish baroque structures there. These are still the government and church buildings for modern times. So we viewed the Cathedral (not really very attractive compared with other big Spanish heritage

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