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  • Writer's pictureDan English

Capstone Project Day 28

Updated: Dec 15, 2019

Today we explored old Quito. First, we visited Basilica del Voto Nacional. Allison and I ventured to the top of one of the church’s spires. We had to cross wooden planks that reminded me of the pig pier and rickety, narrow, iron staircases to get to the top. At the top, there were some amazing views of the city. From the top, we could see the welcoming arms of the Virgen at the Panecillo.. Maddie has a fear of heights and didn’t join us.

From there, we headed to the Mindalae Museum. Our friend Alejandro works there, teaching visitors about Ecuador’s many indigenous cultures and cultural traditions. He told us about the native beliefs and views of the natural world. In native cultures, many believe the life we experience is only one small part of our existence. Life in the world follows cycles of birth, death and rebirth again. That’s why so many South American native people share a spiral as a common symbol. He explained how subtle differences in native dress have a huge cultural impact. Different colors symbolize where you’re from and your beliefs.

Alejandro explained how some pre-Columbian cultures revered women. Some were even ruled by women exclusively. It wasn’t until western colonizers showed up that turned South America into a macho, male-dominated culture.

After the museum, we ended up in Quito’s historic center, flanked by traditional Spanish architecture and buildings hundreds of years old. The Plaza Grande is Quito’s center of government with diplomatic offices, museums, and tiendas surrounding every visitor. This is also one of the busiest areas in the city with thousands of people visiting every day.

Sofía told us to visit the Hotel Plaza Grande and try the ice-cream there. She didn’t give any explanation, only that we had to have moro flavored ice cream. After a short wait and good conversation, the lights dimmed. The music changed from symphony versions of pop hits to an ominous chant. A man dressed in purple robes resembling a Ku Klux Klan member strode purposefully out of the kitchen. I exclaimed, probably too loud, “what’s going on?” The purple Klan member brought us a smoking bowl of our ice cream. The smoke was thoughtfully created in with dry ice. The ice cream was the perfect treat and surprise to end the day.

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