Tuesday we flew to Quito with the 9 that will be going to the Galapagas Islands!
What a huge city of 2 million people in a country of 40 million. So hard to grasp! Equador has become quite stable in the last 10 years or so as their economy is now based on the U.S. Dollar so inflation is only running at 6%.
They pay a lot of taxes but it is used to support the poor, if they sign a statement to prove that their children go to school. Most everyone buys houses here, very few rent. Not the greatest of public transport systems so everyone likes having their own car even though they are expensive. Fuel is very very cheap, at $2 US gallon and diesel is $1.00 US gallon.
Quito is 3000 metres above sea level and I am really struggling to breathe again....at least I don't have a headache.
They say it is the middle of the world and has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime and the temperature rarely varies.
Quito is 3 km wide and 50 km long and is a very fertile land. It's top five economies are 1) oil, 2) bananas( Dole, Chiquita) 3) coffee, 4) Tourism and 5) Flowers!
There are so many houses around that are not finished and we found out that if they don't paint their house or finish the top level they don't have to pay taxes on the house and land. Must be beneficial or all the houses would be done. The majority of the population is between 14 and 35. Don't know what is going to happen in 20 yrs or so.
Wednesday we had an early start and drove an hour outside of Quito to the Equator. We all fooled around with the line, took lots of photos and went up in the observation deck. The area around has been made to look like it would have many many years ago.
Came back into Quito and had a tour of the Old Town, visiting the church built by the Loyola priests and one built by the Franciscan priests. I think these churches take the cake for the amount of gold everywhere. I don't think I have ever seen so much gold plating!
The statue of the Blessed Mother has been depicted as they think she would be on Judgement day, with wings, stepping on a serpent and her crown had 12 parts to represent the 12 Apostles.
We lunch in a lovely hotel that used to be the Bishops quarters. Quite good food!