Despite a weather forecast of rain all day we enjoyed our sunniest day so far. Had another positive cab trip this morning at which time we got to experience rush hour in Quito. For such a pleasant and easy going group of people Ecuadorians certainly undergo a transformation when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. We headed to the Basilica and after paying our dollar each for restoration and going into the main cathedral of the Basilica we found out that was the wrong place to be to go to the top of the building. Nonetheless the cathedral was beautiful, a bit run down but the stained glass and the high ceiling were impressive to behold. We then went around to the south side of the cathedral and paid two bucks each to do the climb. Let me admit that I have a problem at heights but work hard to get over them. Today was another huge step forward for me in controlling my fears.
We went as high as is possible on the spires on the north and south side of the Basilica. I know lots of people have been up there, but for me this was a significant achievement.
If any of you have read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett you would find this a cool trip. You get to cross over the ceiling of the nave on a walkway and look down and see the top of the nave ceiling
Forgive my ignorance of all the proper names of the architecture of a cathedral, but we went up to the highest platform in the spire at the north end of the cathedral. Only maintenance people are really meant to be up there, however that is the beauty of travelling to places where lawyers and stupid people have not wrecked things for everybody.
Here is Karen climbing the ladder on that very buttress. The view from the platform was great. We then crossed back to the south side and continued up the south east spire to the top of that one, above where the bells are. It is spectacular up there.
We then headed over to the Presidential Palace for the changing of the guard ceremony which takes place at approximately 11:00 on Mondays. There was obviously something else going on as there was quite a few Police Officers about wearing riot helmets and carrying shields.
There is always a lot of Police around in Quito but this was noticeable. After confirming a meeting place with Karen in case things got interesting and we got separated we set up to enjoy the show.
I have to say that this is where a country like Ecuador shows itself, I believe, as being much more civilized and self confident than most other supposedly 1st World, Western nations. The President, Vice President and two Cabinet Ministers show up in person in front of the crowds.
While the public gather round in the Plaza Grande to enjoy the ceremony and voice their concerns and protests to the leaders. Before and after the ceremony there was banners and chants from the crowds expressing their displeasure about something.
A great day overall.