The neighborhood we are staying in seems to be relatively safe, our Spanish teacher was quite concerned because he thought we were further south. The most populated tourist areas, old town and new town, are the dangerous areas—being sandwiched in between them leaves us a corridor of safety.

We spent our first day in Quito wandering the old town and adjusting to the altitude and language barrier. We feel a little out of sorts. We had trouble on numerous occasions understanding what people were asking of us. I think eventually we will fall into the swing of things; it is just frustrating not knowing the names of things.

Outside our hostel window, we have a view of the Basilica del Voto Nacional. The Lonely Planet calls the climb to these towers the deadliest view in Quito. The Basilica del Voto was built over several decades beginning in 1926. It has beautiful stained glass windows and cathedral ceilings, but the real draw is the climb to the towers. The beginning of the climb is up several flights of stairs. It was difficult, but certainly not deadly and we started to think that they must have changed the walkway. When we finally reached the top of the stairs, we realized we were not anywhere near the top as we thought. To start the real climb, we walked timidly across a wood plank supported by the cathedral’s arches. The planks creaked with every step as though they were telling us the cathedral arches could fail at anytime. Of course, the entire time I kept thinking of my escape route in case of an earthquake–the problem being I did not have one. I envisioned some sort of Indiana Jones rope maneuver saving me, but eventually just started praying.

Once we made it across the walkway, fear really kicked in. To reach the top, we climbed not one but three rusty steel, steep ladders. I was certain one could fail at anytime. The Lonely Planet says it takes nerve to climb to the top and we agree. It takes nerves of steel that you hope will hold.

Late breaking addition: We met a lovely Dutch couple today who informed us we could climb to the top of the bell tower (on the left side of the picture) too. Apparently, this side is even less secure. We are debating whether it is worth the extra $4 to go back and truly say that we experienced Quito´s deadliest view to the fullest extent.

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