November 10, 2015
Quito is a big city. It has a population of over 2.6 million, and a bustle and energy that can be felt just walking around. Of course walking around Quito is quite a challenge itself. The city sits on several large hillsides, so many of the streets, including the one my hostel is on, look and feel like San Francisco. Which if it was at sea level, like San Francisco, would just be a minor workout. But no, Quito sits at 9,300 feet elevation, so hiking back up to the hostel, and elsewhere, is exhausting. I’ve been at altitude long enough now that I’m not feeling altitude sickness, but I am short of breath.
Yesterday I dropped the bike off at the Yamaha dealer on the north side of Quito to have the fork seal replaced. This morning I decided to take a walk to the Basilica del Voto Nacional, about a mile away.
Constructed between 1892 and 1909, but never completely finished, this is a beautiful cathedral to be sure. Apparently local legend says that when the cathedral is finished, the world will end.
As impressive as it is, I actually came here for the adventure. You see, for two dollars you can climb to the top of the tower for an incredible view of Quito. This is well worth the two bucks, and something you will never get to experience in the United States, for obvious liability reasons. There is no guide or anyone else with you; you are on your own, on the outside of a building over 100 feet in the air. And they let kids over the age of five do this, with an adult of course. No ropes, no harnesses. Nada. Personal responsibility. I love it.
You start by climbing ten flights of stairs (there’s an elevator at the other end of the building, but that seemed like it would take some of the spirit away). Then you walk across this creaking catwalk across the top of the cathedral, and up a ladder to the outside of the building.
Then you climb this ladder/stair on the outside of the tower.
It is indeed a beautiful view from up here.
I took a slightly different route back to the hostel, and ran across some more quirky stuff that is right up my alley…
On my way to pick up the bike. Will stay here one more night, then head south a bit more.