Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Time out for Flat Stanley

2/10/15. I didn't appreciate him jumping into the picture of the angel from our apartment so I left him there as a lesson to behave better.  Now Donna are out for a late lunch and then, perhaps, a bus tour of Quito.  Clouds back, temp has dropped.  We are prepared!

I learned today that in 2001 40% of Ecuadorians lived in extreme poverty. [In the USA, 51% of our children live in poverty.]  Ecuador decided to do something about it. In the next decade, they dropped that percentage to 17%.  Now there is a new President who is continuing to push for economic freedom while the government still clamps down on personal freedom (speech - notwithstanding asylum to Julian Assange - women's health, LGBT rights, etc).  The economic freedoms (Ecuador grew 4% per year throughout the economically turbulent first decade of this century) make him and his predecessor very popular here.

The Basillica del Voto Nacional was a delight!  130 years ago, German architects set out to copy Notre Dame in Paris, my favorite city but not my favorite cathedral (Laon is that).  They built a smaller but still huge copy: the largest Gothic cathedral in Latin America. Inside, the columns and walls and ceilings seem 1,000 years old - not 30 years since completion. Only the floor gives away its youthful secret.  Photo

But behind the alter is an astounding thing.  But first, some history.  Blanche of Castile had a son - Louis - who inherited the French throne over 1,000 years ago when he was just a child, and too young to hold it. She built for him the magnificent fort at Angers to protect him until he was old enough to hold the throne.  He became Louis VII (also Saint Louis).  He sent his mother to Jerusalem - which has been conquered by the Saracens - to retrieve the remaining remnants of Jesus' cross.  While she was away doing that Louis built La Chapelle - a stunning chapel attached to his royal residence in Paris.  Blanche returned with a piece of the Cross, 2 nails from it, and the Crown of Thorns. They stayed in La Chapelle for 700 years until the French Revolution when they were moved to Notre Dame for protection.  La Chapelle was gutted by the mobs, but its incredible stained glass windows all survived. Today, the inside of La Chapelle is essentially unchanged since the destruction. It is one of my favorite places in my favorite city.   But behind the alter in the Basillica those German architects recreated La Chapelle, pre-French revolution!!!!!  Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!  Photo

Of course, being German, they reversed the "L" in St. Louis' overlayed S and L monogram. And they stylized the French fleur d' Lis.  But those are details I saw long after I was blown away at the discovery.  It's called La Capella del Corazon de Maria.  Go see it.

Mercado Central was closed so we went home, watched a movie, brought in dinner, and got FS out of time out. He was chagrined.

PS. Quito is 9,300 ft high, not 8,000 as previously reported.  {gasp} 

PPS. Bus tour tomorrow

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