Quito: The Plaza Grande and the Basilica



October 7, 2013

So I leave my hotel in the Historical District and take a short stroll to the Plaza Grande.  A military band is tooting a mid-day concert in front of the Presidential Palace.  Colorful colonial style municipal structures and churches surround the busy plaza.

I continue my stroll down several narrow streets lined with buildings coated in pastel colors – light blue, beige, bright yellow.  Colonial and modern style “flower-potted” balconies adorn the facades.  Storefront signs announce “Desayuno – Almuerzo” – Breakfast and Lunch is served. 

A typical lunch “menu” consists of a goblet of fresh fruit juice (melon or guava or pineapple), a plate of chicken or fish with rice, fries, lentils, fried banana, a small salad, and desert – all for “un dollar cinquenta,” a buck fifty.  Usually, at these luncheonettes, I am the only “gringo” sitting amongst the locals.  Well, I didn’t come to Ecuador for Subway, Swenson’s or Starbucks.    

Quito: The Middle of the World


La Mitad del Mundo


October 6, 2013

Mis Queridos,

In 1736, a French geographer and mathematician, Charles Marie de la Condamine, made a measurement that confirmed that this very spot is the middle of the earth.  Latitude 0° – 0’ – 0”  The equatorial line.  Ecuador!  

De la Condamine’s measurements also gave rise to the metric system and proved that the earth is not perfectly round, but that it bulges at the equator. * 

So here I am, on my very first day in Ecuador, taking photos of the equatorial monument while enjoying the hot sun and chatting with the local Quitaños. 

Saquisili: Thursday Market



Pop 9296  Elev 2940m

October 10, 2013

My Dear Fellow Shoppers,

Who can resist a local market?  I can’t. 

Just outside Latacunga, the Saquisili Thursday market provides a morning’s entertainment.

Local food.  Local clothing.  Local tools.  Local art. (I bought a Tiagua painting.)

A line of tailors make on-the-spot repairs and alterations as they foot-pump their ancient Singer sewing machines.


Lago Quilotoa (Caldera-Crater Lake), Ecuador



October 10, 2013 

My Dear Mountaineers, 

The Quilotoa Loop is the scenic route west from Latacunga (pop 87,417) to the remote towns of Pujili, Tigua (pop 3000) and Zumbahua (pop 3000).  North of Zumbahua, along the Rio Toachi, lies Quilotoa (Pop 150, Elev 3914m, 12,841 ft, 2.4 miles high!!). 

The paved and curvy road is easy to navigate although my cute little Chevrolet Spark struggles to ascend from 2800m in Latacunga to Quilotoa at 3914m.  To make any headway at all, I must constantly downshift from 3rd gear to 2nd<--break->

Volcán Tungurahua, Manteles, Ecuador

Hacienda Manteles


Tungurahua Province

Central Highlands


October 12, 2013 

Fellow Volcanologists, 

Recently, my loyal friend Kenny used the word “remarkable.”  I am certain he would concur that approaching Cotopaxi, the dormant snow- capped volcano, while riding down the highway is truly remarkable. 

My brother-in-law Stephen likes the word “outstanding.”  Can we all agree that watching smoke and ash billowing from an active volcano is truly outstanding? 

My dear friend Uli likes to use the word “extraordinary.”  How fortunate am I that the smoke and ash I viewed during the day turned to red glowing fire at night!  A truly extraordinary sight.