Turns out I have a few minutes tonight, so I'll write up soome things we did today.
We got up this morning and had breakfast at the hotel. I guess officially this would be a bed-and-breakfast, but it seems more like a small hotel. The staff are very friendly and helpful. After we ate, we got directions on some fun things to do. Since we couldn't do them all, we chose to walk around the center of Quito.
It was interesting walking through the neighborhood we'd seen the night before. On Sunday, most everything was closed down, and there was none of the club/bar/disco traffic, of course. We walked over to the park where they have a weekly art market, with artists displaying and selling their work.
The items that caught my eye the most were some stylized pictures of the local landscape (it looked vaguely like Quito to me) with a red train going through the sky above, with apples, fish, baskets of flowers, eggs, an balloons falling down into the city. We saw that several artists had portrayed the same general theme, so we figure it must be some local story. Unfortunately, our Spanish wasn't good enough to get the scoop.
My other favorite was a series of variations on da Vinci's "The Last Supper," where Jesus is still the central character, but is surrounded by a collection of modern figures. One had various political figures, from Hitler to Castro to Hugo Chavez to Nelson Mandela to Ghandi. I'm not quite sure what that meant. Another had some of those, plus Albert Einstein and some others. Another had Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger, and other figures from entertainment. I dunno, but I liked them.
We spent an hour or two at the cultural museum across from the park where the art market was. They had very interesting, very accessible displays with explanations in both Spanish and English.
Later, we went to lunch in the old part of the city. We ate at a nice little restaurant in what used to be the archbishop's residence on the Plaza Grande caled Hasta la Vuelta, Señor... The name comes from a local legend about a libidinous Franciscan monk who used to climb over the monastery wall by scaling a large crucifix until Jesus started asking him "Until when, Father Almeida?" It was a good story, fun to read while we waited for our food.
After a brief trip back to the hotel, we met up with the rest of the group we'll be diving with in Galapagos at a nice restaurant called Café Mosaico, which has an amazing, panoramic view of pretty much all of Quito. It's quite stunning, and the food was good. After dinner, we chatted with Alex, the owner. He's from New York City, but his mother is from Ecuador, and he's lived here most of his life.
We're looking forward to flying out to the Galapagos tomorrow morning, and really can't wait to get started diving.