Friday, July 27, 2007

A Way to See the Angels

Yesterday, I visited Quito's neogothic cathedral and took a look around. It's pretty grand from the gound and inside, but taking a closer look, its concrete construction becomes obvious. For two bucks they let you climb around all over the place--another example of the lax safety standards in South America. You climb stairs up to the balcony level and then up to a floor that is open to the space between the vaulting and the actual roof. There's a creaky, bouncy wooden catwalk with rope railings that allows you to walk across the top of the ceiling to the central spire, which you can walk around and then climb some pretty terrifying stairs attached to the buttresses up to a little lookout in the top of the spire. Back at the front towers, you can climb a spiral staircase up into the clock and up rebar ladders with steps spaced about a foot-and-a-half apart up a few more levels until you are just below the top of the towers on a "floor" of wire fencing. All this climbing of course gives you really cool views of the city, even as it leaves you dizzy. If that isn't enough vertigo for you, you can pay $30 to rappel down the front of the cathedral. It's not all fun and games though: rappellers carry a broom so they can sweep the pigeon droppings and feathers out from behind the statues. X-treme volunteering anyone?

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