Monday, 29 October 2012

Day 114: another yes another rest day in Quito, Ecuador

Greetings travellers
A bit of a funny old day today. I have got some kind of blasted coughing lurghy which keeps me hacking away into the night. Not the best for my ribs or for swmbo. Or for me for that matter.

Anyway we were up and out pretty early in the morning because we wanted to go and see the church with all the gold leaf. We had a quick buffet breakfast and got sorted. It was around then we discovered there were two of these churches: Iglesia de La Compania De Jesus and Capilla Iglesia Santo Domingo. We went to the former. Becoming wise in such matters we established a price before leaving - which is just as well because we hit a huge impassable traffic jam that the poor driver tried many times to negotiate around before suggesting that we get out and walk.

So we did. Almost immediately the cause of the jam became apparent. The President was having some kind of a review of the troops or of the day or something which we never did quite work out.

I think one of these is the President.

Lots of school kids were there to support the occasion.

There were also real soldiers hidden around to support those in 18th century uniforms and armoury. I'm not sure that this one was soooo pleased to have his photo taken.

Well the band played, the horses trotted

and the lancers marched.

And the flag was presented.

And the National Anthem was sung lustily by all involved.

Then almost immediately afterwards the demonstrators emerged.

We weren't sure what they were demonstrating for or against but it seemed pretty healthy in a state with such heavily armed policy and military.

Animated conversations began in small groups like this one.

Well with all the excitement over we went round the corner to the church. It was quite quite extraordinary. I have never seen so much gold in my life. The church is set out in a Latin cross with little avenues running east and west with huge carvings coated with gold at every end. Photography is prohibited but you can see some and a description here:

We took a taxi back to our hotel and got packed up and moved to a new hotel. Not just because it is cheaper but because it is where D&D will be staying. We can then all go,out to Mr BMW together early on Thursday morning?

We then went hunting for the insurance office where we could buy our compulsory SOAT. This is an insurance that pays out to the victims of vehicle accidents. Well we knew the office was in the same street as the hotel. And we knew the number was 1492. What we didn't realise was that the numbers had a distinct and idiosyncratic mind of their own. We walked. And we walked. And we walked. Suddenly, nothing happened. Yes it did! The even numbers went from our side of the street to the other side of the street. And then, and then .... we saw our building. What now we thought?

Don't be silly - go in of course. There we were confronted by an armed guard. We had to state our purpose. Which we did but as he spoke less English than we spoke espanol it wasn't a great help. We had to leave ID with him before he would let us in. I wasn't prepared to leave my passport. I was going to leave my drivers's licence then thought .... no, I'll need those for the insurance. Finally the queue behind us bulged so much he gave us a personal escort. Armed of course. Here, even the guards at supermarkets are armed!

And so we went upstairs. "Oh no," said the nice young man, "not here. You'll have to go to a supermarket." A supermarket to buy insurance? Ok, why not. And so we tramped through the rain - did I say it had started to rain? - to the supermarket. Suddenly, nothing happened. Yes it did. We saw a NYM (nice young man) sitting at a school desk marked SOAT selling SOAT to customers. "Hurray!" we shouted and with licence, passport and a bundle of money in hand we approached. "Oh no," said the NYM. "Not here. You'll have to go to the place where foreigners buy SOAT." At this point it was nearly 5pm, very wet and I said a very naughty word. Under my breath. So the NYM gave us another address which is only 5.8kms away and according to Google Maps will only take us 57.4 minutes to walk. It can wait.

The rain having set in we decided to eat at the hotel. Nothing special but goat stew on the menu for the first time that I have seen. So .... because my brother is a distributor of goat meat I thought I would do a quality check on his behalf. And do you know what? No you don't. It was not bad. Not bad at all.

And that was our day. Good night. :-)

Today's run: 0kms
Cumulative: 27,996kms
Tipovers: 6

Location:Quito, Ecuador.

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