We weren’t exactly sure of the details for Christmas Day, but we did know that we wanted to attend church at either the grand Basilica del Voto Nacional or at La Campania, the gold church in Centro Historico. After all, Ecuador is steeped in religion and has some of the most beautiful churches in the world. What a great place to spend Christmas. We also planned to have dinner at our hotel restaurant which had an incredible view of Quito. Best laid plans… With a bunch of things out of our control which included not feeling well (from December 22 to December 25th we all had one, or a combination of, fevers, diarrhea/cramps, extreme tiredness, and colds), plans changed!
The morning of December 24 included a quick trip to our rooftop terrace, moving out of our apartment and into the Plaza Hotel, and a quick shop at Bershka in Quicentro. Things moved slowly as Anna and Graham were both getting over fevers.
In the late afternoon, we went to the Basilica to watch the Pase del Nino, a procession where a likeness of the baby Jesus is carried through the streets. Nobody seemed to know anything about it or the service that was scheduled to take place immediately afterward. So, we spent the time drinking cafés and hot chocolates in the basilica’s courtyard. Not exactly what we had planned; nonetheless, it was quite lovely.
Dinner that night was not at the hotel’s restaurant with an incredible view of the city. The hotel no longer has that restaurant even though it is on the Best Western website. That was one of the reasons this hotel was chosen – instead, we received a room upgrade and a deal on the buffet breakfast. We had a very festive four course meal in the new restaurant without a view. The food presented well and tasted mediocre. The band was really good, but the volume made it challenging to chat. When the volume increased for the dance that followed, we beelined it out. That being said, it was Christmas Eve so our spirits couldn’t be dampened.
Feliz Navidad! It was now Christmas Day! Rachel was sick through the night and slept most of the morning. By afternoon we were all feeling a little off with our inflictions but rallied to go to the equator.
We started with La Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World). It has the monument, gift shops, snack bars, and dancers. The first monument was built in the 1700’s to supposedly straddle the equator. Modern GPS readings have shown that even the new monument, built in 1979 to be grander, is actually seven seconds of a degree south of the true equator.
We then went to the “real” equator at Museo Intinan. It is about 250 meters down the road from the government tourist site and has some equator-related experiments and some exhibits on indigenous cultures. Even though it is rated higher on Trip Advisor, is the real equator and is more interesting, there were less than 100 visitors. Surprising!
We capped off the day with gym/spa time at the hotel.
We did it! We rallied! What a cool experience on Christmas Day! One we will never forget. We leave in the morning for home sweet home!