My folks, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, flew in for a cameo and joined us for two weeks to firstly visit Quito then trace Mr. Darwin’s long wake through the archipelago of the Galapagos islands. The air up in Quito, nestled very high in the mountains resting just south of the equator, is truly rarefied and took us some time for adjustment. We did so by taking in the magnificent sights slowly, walking around the old centro historico where the Church and its Spanish conquerors built some of the best churches that we’ve ever seen. It is staggering to think of the scale of what all that stolen gold and silver was able to afford.

My mom played the role of conquistador one of the days and we dutifully followed as she charted a course through the old town, sacking one historical sight after another with the press of a shutter button. It was later that we discovered she’d merely seen the route in one of the travel books laying on the coffee table of our rented airbnb apartment. Still, we had seized our own golden opportunities and now have the pictures to present to you.

Of the treasures we took in one was what they called the Gold Church, and aptly named as it was reportedly lined with something like seven tons of gold. Incredible, but no photos allowed. If we were feeling sympathetic to the the anguish the Spanish suffered at the ships of pirates and privateers, which we were not, taking in the sights of Quito should have solved that for us.

Denise and Dad climbed to the top of the tallest church and had great views of the city

After our trip to and through the Galapagos, Denise and I continued our travels into the heart of Ecuador by first visiting the town of Otavalo and seeing its famous market. Here we took a tour around the various villages trying to see what an authentic indigenous person lives like. Granted, cruising by at forty kilometers per hour caused us to miss a few of the details, however, what we did see was interesting. We got to speak with and listen to a native musician who, along with his wife, has been trying to restore some of the indigenous music as well as instruments. We also stopped by one of the textile weavers who still made garments the ‘old way.’ Finally, we went to a reserve where they rescue and rehabilitate birds of prey. They fly the birds once per day, and the show was worth seeing.

Otavalo market

This is the typical height of the indigenous people near Otavalo.

The endangered Andean Condor, the largest raptor in the world with a wingspan of over 10 feet

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