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Quito, Ecuador: La Floresta + Zero Latitude

Quito in its best known aspects... and a little less: its historic center, the tourist attraction of the zero latitude of the planet, the Floresta district and an ''Escape the room'' that will give you chills. .. on Valentine's Day.

Loma El Panecillo vu du centre historique de Quito
Loma El Panecillo seen from the historic center of Quito

historical Center

We are still climbing in altitude, we are now at 2850 meters in the capital of Ecuador, in Quito. We had made preconceived ideas about this city, without any doubts. We thought we arrived in an immeasurable brothel of 3.1 million inhabitants and found there only a metropolis without interest and dilapidated. We gave each other a few pats on the hands! Quito has an impeccable historic center listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also the best maintained in South America, despite the anecdotal explosions of its volcanoes (moreover in a future post I will have an anecdote about an earthquake in the Amazon rainforest...). Admittedly, some neighborhoods are worse than others, as in all the metropolises of the world, but those we explored in depth made us want to come back. The architecture is really worth a look and I was very happy to be able to add this architectural gem to my film. An efficient and pleasant shoot!

I learn later that Quito has always been an important center, even in pre-Inca times because of its strategic geographical location. The beliefs and spiritual rites due to the volcanoes and the Andean mountains surrounding it probably also propelled it to be proclaimed the capital of the country. We have also, during our guided hikes, heard the importance of the Guagua Pichincha volcano (4,776 meters) for the population, undisputed master of Quito. Its last big irruption was in 1999 and it is closely watched. Hope the giant is good with the Quiteños and doesn't destroy anything major!

Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, Quito, Équateur
Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, Quito, Ecuador
Plaza Grande (Independence Square), Quito, Équateur
Plaza Grande (Independence Square), Quito, Ecuador
Iglesia de El Sagrario, Quito, Équateur
Iglesia de El Sagrario, Quito, Ecuador
Le volcan Guagua Pichincha se manifestant? Ne l'espérons pas!
The Guagua Pichincha volcano manifesting? Let's hope not!

0° 0' 0"

Climbing in altitude of course, but on the latitude side, we found ourselves in the center of the world, fifteen km from Quito! To get there, simply ask for directions to the very popular ''Ciudad del Mundo'' and you will be kindly guided. By regular bus it takes about 1h, 1h30, for the modest sum of $1 or less. On the other hand, over there, if you take your GPS, the monument of the ''city in the middle of the world'' (Ciudad Mitad del Mundo) is not quite at latitude 0° 0' 0", but at 0° 0' 7.83". Apparently there is another monument, which we unfortunately did not visit, located at the exact place of the center of the world. The Ecuadorians didn't brag about it too much, but I found them modest. The Ciudad Mitad del Mundo is really a very interesting tourist attraction, which can take you up to a few hours to visit or more if you have time to see everything. In the center, a 10 meter high statue in commemoration of the first French geodetic mission: their once scientific objective was to measure an arc of the meridian to verify the real shape of the earth... we are in 1736. 200 years more later after the official discovery, the Ecuadorians erected this monument in which we can take an elevator to observe the horizons of the center of the world. Around it, all kinds of games and questions about the balance of the planet made us smile and pass the time. Will you be able to fit an egg on a tee (golf spike)? Is it true that in the equator the water in the toilet does not run? (!) And above all, Great Travelers! Don't forget to have your passport stamped here to prove that you have passed through the center of the world!

Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, Équateur
Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, Ecuador
Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, Équateur
Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, Ecuador

La Floresta Neighborhood

Grafitis Quito Équateur

You guessed it, the Floresta district in Ecuador is full of graffiti. It is actually an extraordinary community that lives there. The mentality is turned towards street art and freedom of expression. Graffiti has become a means of communication, from the most subtle to the gigantic. Really, without the guided tour (free, tips suggested), we would never have been able to appreciate this district so much where, in addition, exceptional entrepreneurship is in the spotlight. In this hipster neighborhood, graf has become a way of life. There are even some graffiti artists who are recognized only by their style in this district, and others who try to find a trademark...

In addition, the tour also takes us to visit popular businesses in the neighborhood, including the Pacari chocolate factory. Ecuadorian chocolate is popular all over the world, and personally, I was very happy to be able to taste products made there (and especially chocolate, as a bonus, on Valentine's Day!).

I don't think I need to tell you that there were a lot of chocolate bars in my return bag (plus, at $1.50 for the bar, you don't think twice about it...! ). My favorite bar was the ''Raw'' variety, flavored with cocoa pod fruit and also, without question, with the exceptional flavor of passion fruit (maracuya)!

Type de grafitis dans le quartier La Floresta, de Quito, en Équateur
Type of graffiti in the La Floresta district, of Quito, Ecuador

Tactics Escape the Room

We ended our day of filming to have a little fun (and also to stay in the theme of Valentine's Day?) with a little game of ''Escape the room''! And not just any, the scariest we've ever done! Obviously, we couldn't film inside to keep the secrets of the puzzles, but believe our experience, your $13 will be worth the fear of your life! Not to mention that the game is based in a former psychiatric hospital... the budget is incredible in this place. You can see here in the photo, all the devices actually come from the old hospital... the scenario is disturbing. Something to fuel your dinner conversations for years to come, I promise! Link for reservations:

Tactics Escape the Room, Quito, Équateur
The team at ''Tactics Escape the Room'', Quito, Ecuador

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