(Horse pic left to right: Brandon Pollard, Emily McCue)
Upon arrival, me and a fellow recipient, Emily McCue, arrived prior to everyone else in the program, so we had a some down time to explore Ecuador a bit. After arriving to the hotel, we looked across the street and realised something fascinating taking place at the park… the locals were offering horseback riding! Knowing that is this was not something you can typically do in New Jersey on a regular basis, we leaped at the opportunity and decided to give it a shot. I have no regrets at all and would definitely do it again, if ever given the chance.
Later that evening, a few other students arrived in the beautiful city of Quito, so our professor, Dr. Fortune, decided to take us to a exquisite restaurant that had an awesome view overlooking Quito’s huge city area. The food was amazing and provided me with more than enough energy to get a good night’s sleep. Lucky for me, sleep was much needed, because the next day, our experience within Ecuador was about to officially begin.
In order to spend some time in a foreign land, it is best to learn about some of the countries history. This is what this day was all about, for we visited the old town which was rich of the culture and knowledge locked away in Quito. We saw sites such as: La Basilica (Cathedral church located in the center of Quito’s old town), Plaza Grande (the main square, also known as the heart of the city), and even the workplace of the president, Carondelet Palace.
Along with viewing many historic sites that helped to establish Quito as the place it is today, we took a step inside the history of the indigenous people by visiting the Centro Cultural Metropolitano. Much of the work was featured from many famous painters, and activist that depicted the struggle of the indigenous people while under the spaniards rule. A lot of the artwork was very detailed, and did a good job of depicting the oppression many of the natives faced during this era. Last site visited in the old town was the golden church, also known as the Compañía de Jesús (the church of the society of jesus). This church showed a perfect blend of designs by using islamic influences to construct certain geometric patterns, along with bilateral artwork inured to create human/modest proportions. The church featured pre-Incan gold and is linked to the Ecuadorian faith. With the construction of this church, Quito became a school and owner for one of the most important places for religious art.
The day could not be complete without visiting the center of the earth, or better yet the Equator monument. Here we got to discover how the equator was used to get an estimation of the earth’s size (which took about 7 years) and take the typical “tourist visiting the equator” photos we so desperately wanted.
(Pole pic left to right: Brandon Pollard, Eric Ostrander)