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Our morning started with a knock on our door…it was Giff’s mom, sister and brother-in-law.  They flew from Ohio to join us for a week in the Galapagos.  After many hugs and chatting we all went downstairs for breakfast before exploring the city of Quito.

The first thing we noticed was the air…it was much less polluted in comparison to Lima.  The cars here seem newer and aren’t giving off that black diesel smoke.

Our first stop of the day was to the center of the world (mitad del mundo).  A 40 minute drive took us to the Ecuador museum, latitude 00’00’00.  For a few dollars each (the currency of Ecuador has been the US dollar since 2000)… a tour guide walked us around the outdoor museum.  He first talked to us about the local indigenous people…the various tribes.  He showed us what their typical houses looked like, how they cooked, the foods they ate, etc.  He also showed us their ancient tradition of shrinking heads. There was one on display from a child.  He explained to us how they would remove the skull from the skin on the face and then heat these heads with hot stones…dehydrating them to the point where the head would shrink. They also sowed the mouth shut so the evil spirit would be trapped into the shrunken head forever.  Did I mention the pictured charts with step by step instructions on the proper way to shrink a head from start to finish.  Seriously?

The next area was the fun part.  They had all kinds of little tricks to show us the strength of the magnetic field at the equator.  They had 2 sinks, one on the north and the south side of the red line running down the sidewalk which represented the actual equator.  These sinks were no more than 10 feet apart…but when they poured water into the sink on the north side of the equator it twirled one way and when they poured water into the sink on the south side of the equator the water twirled the opposite way.  They also had 2 nails standing upright and we took turns taking an egg and placing it on the nail-head.  It took some patience, but some of us were able to get the egg to sit on the nail.

After our equator fun, we had our taxi take us to the center of Quito.  It was buzzing with people.  We noticed the Spanish influenced architecture right away.  We strolled through some of the main squares taking pictures.  We ducked into one of the churches and were impressed with the rich detail of the interior.

We stopped at a little coffee shop and ordered Ecuadorian coffees and hot chocolate.  We looked at the map to figure out where we were and where we wanted to go.  After our break, we continued walking the through the streets.  There were various vendors selling all sorts of street foods and a big indoor market full of clothes and shoes and electronics.  We made our way through the market and then walked uphill towards an absolutely picturesque church, La Basilica.  We took several pictures standing outside before heading back to our hotel to get freshened up.

Back at the hotel, we got ready for dinner and then caught a taxi to a restaurant recommended to us by the hotel.  Even though the restaurant was only a few blocks away, we were told it was not safe to walk in the dark in this area…which by the way was a main tourist area.

For dinner we ordered the shrimp ceviche which was a signature dish.  We have had ceviche before but this one was served with popcorn, huge roasted corn kernels and plantain chips…and for some weird reason…it actually worked.  The ceviche was definitely delicious, but the other dishes were nothing to write about.

After dinner we all went back to the hotel to get to bed.  Tomorrow we will be on a cruise to the Galapagos!

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