Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Churches in the morning and a talk about ballooning at the British School in Quito

PHIL: Day 86/10 May
the basilica in Quito

I feel well prepared for my school presentation so we decide to visit most of the major ecclesiastical buildings in Quito from the new basilica ,completed in the 1980s (and indeed still missing a few bits), to the sixteenth century Cathedral of St Francis.
At the basilica we take the lift to the top of the bell-tower as altitude exhaustion has set in again. There is a catwalk inside the roof of the nave which, fortunately for me, does not have a direct view to the ground. Allie climbs even higher up an external ladder to the top of one pinnacle but I can’t face that.

the children have already prepared a lovely hot air balloon!

 The more ancient churches of old Quito have a surprising variety of decorative styles ranging from Roman to Gothic but all with exceptional nave ceilings of decorated wood with massive areas of gilding. Whilst walking between the Company of Jesus church and the Cathedral a band is playing at the Presidential Palace.

so much enthusiasm!
Closer inspection reveals a trio of new ambassadors to Ecuador being accredited to the President – diplomatic cars containing the Belgian, Turkish and Ghanaian representatives draw up with much pomp and many sunglass-equipped ‘heavies’.
We are soon in our own diplomatic vehicle, however. The British Embassy Land-Rover, only a month old, draws up at our hotel to take us to the British School, which proves to be an hour out of town.

talking balloons

On arrival a rather shambling headmaster and his delegated ‘co-ordinator’ (who looks about 12 years old but has apparently been teaching for a decade) greet us. The programme they have devised is nothing like the original and so I quickly re-jig my presentation to cope with 20 minutes of 6-year-olds followed by 40 minutes of 7-10s.  
The school lunch is as excellent though the staff at table are uninspiring, but the younger pupils reward me with ‘oohs and aaahs’ whilst the older ones ask intelligent questions. Allie is a star with the computer linked projector so I leave feeling something has been achieved.

ALLIE: DAY 86: Thursday, the 10th May
A wander around Quito and a speech about ballooning in the British School
fabulous views to the snow capped mountains
It’s a beautiful clear morning. How lucky we are with the weather. After finishing up more emails (invitations to go to Jemen, Senegal or Italy for ballooning pop up but are unfortunately all at a bad time when we are committed else wise) we take to the narrow streets of Quito and walk up to the Basilica.
This is the largest of all churches and the two spires stand up to 47 meters. You can take the elevator and climb the rest to the top – which at least I do since I know my husbands love of heights! The view across the city and up to the Virgin de Quito on the hill Panecillo is literally breathtaking the altitude definitely taking its toll again.

Iglesia La Compania de Jesus
More squares and churches are on our list this morning. The next one being the Iglesia San Francisco which is the oldest of all churches here in Quito. It dates back to the second half of the 16th century and style is quite different for the others. It’s mostly made of wood.
Even the floors are wooden panels, so is the skilfully carved ceiling and some of the side alters. A mass is just in progress and we listen to the singing and the sound of the organ. Amazing how full it is considering it’s just a normal Thursday morning 10 o’clock.  You wouldn’t get that many people even on a Sunday in any church in Europe!

The next one is of the Jesuit order called La Compania de Jesus. This is the most decorated churches of all with 7 tons of gold! It’s really incredible and you don’t know where to look first: there isn’t an inch left in the whole building that isn’t filled with angels, roses, stars, leaves, saints or other heavenly figures or motives. Gold blinded we walk out into the Plaza Grande just in time to see the inauguration of the Ghanaian, Belgium and Turkish Ambassadors all accompanied by a military band and heaps of police. We really do have it with parades this trip!

eager kids at the British School in Quito
We are nearly churched out but decide to do a last must: the cathedral which stands a bit unspectacular in the plaza. Again it’s different in that it has a beautiful wooden ceiling but rest is quite simple compared to the pomp and extravagance of the other churches. Back to the hotel for a quick brush up.

At 12.30 we are being picked up by Joja, an Ecuadorian girl who works for the British Embassy and drive down to the British School which is situated in another valley nearly an hours drive away.
We are greeted by Darroll the head master of the school and invited to ‘school lunch’. The lunch was surprisingly good compared to the sort of cold, unsalted rubber I had to eat when I was studying a term at Durham University in the early 90ies.

the children loved the Churchill dog
We are being introduced to the other teachers and then it’s time for us – or Phil – to do our presentation. We struggle a bit with technology (a beamer that needs somehow to correspond with our compi!) but eventually manage to run a picture show of our ballooning adventures around the world.
The first class we are supposed to entertain are youngsters in the age of 5 to 6. So poor Phil had to switch quickly in form and he tried his best to make an interactive talk for the kids.
And they loved it! Nearly every picture created a big ‘wow’ and ‘oh’ and when we finally came to show the dog – and pumpkin shaped balloons from the Hamilton fiesta they couldn’t stop raving about it.
answers and questions
When it came to question time, they mostly said ‘I love the dog!’ How cute was that? The next class was a bit older and the kids were quite smart a few even knew when and where the first balloons were built.
But they weren’t so enthusiastic about the pictures. What a pity though that we didn’t have a balloon here to show them how it really works. All in all, it was a lovely experience and the kids (mostly Ecuadorians) were great fun.

Driving back to Quito though was a bit of a nightmare. Severe rainfall had brought the already chaotic traffic to a complete halt. Back at the hotel we desperately need a ‘cristal’ (sugar cane schnapps) and a hot bath.
We end up in the same courtyard for dinner as last night since our ‘vegetarian restaurant’ turned out to be a a poker hole!

No comments:

Post a Comment