Today had nothing on our schedule and so we slept in a bit. We did however have plenty of work to catch up on. I thought we could break the day up by having lunch in the historic district. We hired a cab which took us there after a 15 minute ride that cost only $3.80. Two nice traveler points about Ecuador are that most of the outlets accept US shaped plugs and that they use the US greenback for their currency. Gasoline here is around a dollar a gallon and that may explain why taxi fares are so low. In general, the cost of living here seems much less, although I don’t have a ratio worked out to share with you. We started by meandering about la Plaza de la Independencia. In the center of the plaza is a statue of someone important but considering it was just a trip for lunch, we did not take the time to find out.
We proceeded to acquire a map from the visitor’s center of the historic district and surrounding area. Ashley had a bit of a headache so we grabbed a coke zero in one of the mini shops as we headed to lunch. We decided to walk to the Basilica and find something on the way and after a few zig-zags came upon several small restaurants that were no longer serving lunch. We finally found one that would oblige to serve us called La Casita del Cafe or the little house of coffee. I asked if they could serve us lunch and they showed us a seat. We were trying to figure out where the menu might be and noticed a large overhead display listing different options, but before would could make out what the options were we were served some pink fruit juice and a bowl of chicken and rice soup. The juice was delicious and the soup was made from a wonderful rich broth. The thing about the soup was that ALL of the chicken parts were in our bowls to give it that rich flavor. I used a skimming technique and did a fairly good job avoiding little chunks of things. Ashley had a chicken foot or two and Grant had some other parts that I don’t remember a bird having. At any rate, the soup was good and before we could get our bearings on what else we might order, there were refills of juice and a plate of rice, cubed beef, avocado and lettuce. The plate was good and I enjoyed my lunch, Grant will eat anything, but Ashley was a bit put off by the soup and never fully recovered her appetite. Nonetheless we came in, asked for lunch and that is exactly what we received. It was actually a really nice experience.
After our $3.00 authentic lunches we headed up the street to take a look at the Basilica Voto del Nacional. I chose this destination only because it caught my eye as we had navigated around the city in previous days. We paid a small fee and entered the cathedral. Ashley’s headache had returned but she said it disappeared as soon as we stepped inside. There was some lovely music playing and the building was not as refined as some European cathedrals but was gorgeous with ribbed pointed arches along the nave and aisles. The windows were adorned with beautiful stain glass images that reminded me of the First United Methodist Church in Albuquerque where I grew up. All of the stonework was left with a raw finish that was simple and inviting to me.
Upon exiting we were stopped by an older Peruvian man who assumed we were from California and wanted us to know that he had lived in the San Diego area for many years and was now a teacher of Inca culture. We were just out for lunch and were not trying to soak anything of depth in. That’s neat or that’s pretty was all we were in the mood for. He basically wanted us to take a one-hour tour and became frustrated at our repeated polite refusals. He mentioned that we were looking at everything and understanding nothing. I internally agreed and we left but wondered how many tourists make a practice of just skimming the top. I feel that I would enjoy an expert’s hour guide before we leave, but just was not in the mood to do it on our lunch date.
Another interesting feature of this cathedral was the ability to climb into the towers and through the inner architecture of the building. This was a perfect end for our out-for-lunch which at times felt more like a via feratta than a Basilica experience. I will leave you with some images.