Ecuador 2006:  The Andean Highlands

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The heavens smile upon Quito.

The view as seen from the outdoor patio of upscale Café Mosaico.


You can almost hear the angels singing.

View from Café Mosaico.  To the left is the 41m tall statue of La Virgen, overlooking Quito Valley from atop the Panecillo.

After visiting Quito, Lorenzo, Naomi and I traveled south the next day to Tierra del Volcán, near Cotopaxi, to ride horses. Lorenzo here surveys the magnificent landscape.

Cotopaxi translates to neck of the moon (cuello de luna in Spanish) because sometimes the full moon will look like it is resting on top of the volcano, thus making the peak look like a neck.



Lorenzo discovers the lack of oxygen at 3600m, riding in the windswept páramo near Cotopaxi.

Lorenzo sporting Andean chic.

Lovely petals at Tierra del Volcán near Cotopaxi.  

Tierra del Volcán horses.

Tierra del Volcán.

Tierra del Volcán poncho and chaps.


The neck of the moon - Volcán Cotopaxi.

We drove up to base camp.

The next day, we hopped on a bus to Papallacta.

Yep, that's right, I went to Termas de Papallacta again.  Twice.

This second time, though, it was rainy and cloudy, and we never saw Volcán Antisana clearly, as this boy with the umbrella was discovering. 

However, this didn't deter us from having a great time soaking in the hot springs, recovering from the bumpy horse ride and even more brutal car ride up to Volcán Cotopaxi the day before.

You've already seen the pictures of Papallacta, so I'll spare you more pictures of hot springs resorts.

We left Papallacta for Quito.  I took them to La Basílica even though I had already been there on my first oxygen-deprived day in Quito because I felt they should see it. 

I also took them to La Compañía, the latter of which is a masterwork of Ecuadorian Baroque, Arabic, and indigenous decor covered in beautiful gold-leaf.  Absolutely stunning, it's often considered the most beautiful church in all of South America.  It's certainly the most beautiful I've ever seen on the continent. 

La Basílica during my second visit, as seen from one of the 78m clock towers.  No, there's not a third visit.



La Virgen surveys Quito Valley, as seen from Avenida Venezuela in the historical center of town.

The historical center of Quito, or Quito Viejo or la parte colonial was designated a World Heritage site by the United Nations in 1978.


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