Saturday was our trip back to El Centro Histórico but this time, it was a tour at night. Before we were all to meet, a few of my friends decided to get together and plan our Baños trip (that weekend's post to come soon!). It turns out that we should have left from planning earlier than we did because we were just getting off of the bus when it was time to be there. Once we finally found what road we needed to follow, we started sprinting uphill to make it to the center where everyone was to meet. When I saw uphill, I mean uphill; we were about to fall over as we were weaving in and out of all the people trying to sell us lottery tickets and candy. Daniel told us that if we weren't there on time, we would miss the first whole half of the tour so we were praying that they didn't leave yet. Luckily, we made it in time with a few minutes left to catch our breath.
Two tour guides met us and at the center and told us to follow them. We walked toward a huge church, and just as we were about to enter through the doors, a small woman dressed in a purple and black laced dress with a black veil, holding a broom, walked in in front of us. We ended up following her to the courtyard where she stopped and stood in front of a big fountain with her back to us. She started singing some type of song and we started wondering if we should leave and let her do her thing but we didn't. It wasn't until she turned around with her clown mask on and started talking to us that we realized she was there to give us the tour. Yikes!
Everyone followed her through the archways to a room covered in gold with creepy paintings involving Jesus, angels and demons. She started talking about how this was the room where they signed their declaration of independence from Spain. It turns out that those who signed it were killed and buried under where we were standing. I'm pretty sure she said there were some 300 bodies. I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but I did sneak one and that is why the picture below is blurry. You can see the wooden gate in the ground that covers up the tunnel where the bodies are buried.
After the scary stories, we continued to the museum section where many paintings and sculptures were of Jesus and Mary. Some of them were disturbing including the room that was dedicated to one life-size sculpture of Jesus laying on a chair after he had the nails through his hands and was beaten. It was a little graphic for my liking, but we all were to sit around it, leaving me no other choice but to stare at it. Honestly, I can't remember paying very close attention to this part of the tour very well and I regret that now. I think the story was something about how years ago there were people in that room and something spooky happened - like a ghost story - but I don't know. :x
There was one more tour that we were led to and getting there was rather interesting to say the least. First of all, our gringo mob walked through the street like this, drawing even more attention to ourselves...
We stopped in the very center to play a few games and it was a lot of fun; eventually we accumulated a crowd of Ecuadorians who probably wanted to join, but they just watched instead. That's when I noticed that we had a few police officers watching us too who I guess were walking with us? I felt like I was famous with the bodyguards. Anyways, before walking to our final tour the witch lady (tried) to teach us this chant about being in purgatory... I mean we tried but it was a little long and it just sounded like a bunch of mumbling except for a few random words. She then told us to keep chanting it as we walked through streets. Please picture this in your mind: a witch leading a herd of people through the dark streets chanting/mumbling about being in purgatory. Never have I had so many stares in my entire life, but I can't blame them.
While we were down there, a bunch of us decided to go explore on our own a bit and we were able to see this:
And then we ate this enormous cheese empanada that tasted like funnel cake:
That concludes the night tour at El Centro Histórico.
Sunday was our trip to South Quito.
Usually people don't really enjoy going to South Quito because "there isn't anything to see", it's were the poorer population generally lives with unfinished houses and buildings, and as I was told, it is more dangerous. Daniel, however, has connections for everything and so he arranged our little trip to show us that South Quito really isn't that bad. He actually use to live there for a few years so he knows people and had them set up a play date for us. We went down there to meet a bunch of other people our age.
Initially we all sat in one big, open room staring at each other trying to figure out what we were going to do for an entire morning/afternoon with all of these strangers. Once the awkward ice breakers started, there was no possible way to be shy around each other anymore.
After lunch we went to a park that was just a minute walk from where we were that morning. There was a soccer game going on that we could watch but instead we all decided to play a few rounds of duck duck goose and cat and rat or something like that, hah. We all became one big happy family.
Daniel had to tell us that we could only stay for five more minutes and we were all pretty bummed about it. The good news is that we are all friends on Facebook and we actually make plans to get together still. I would say it was a successful day in South Quito. :)
Siempre amigos! :)