swimming, racquetball, sauna, horses,nchapel, and cock-fighting pit. The genialnmanager, quite the tallest Ecuadorian Inhave seen, showed us to a large doublenroom costing $20 (without meals). Onnour last visit he had left and the placengone into decline, being for some reasonnoverrun by a group of German schoolchildren.nStriking out west towards Ecuador’snPacific coast may depend on the rental ofna four-wheel drive vehicle. Towns likenQuevedo, set in banana fields, are reallynno more than route centers, run-downnconglomerations of characterless storesnredolent of Graham Greene at his worst.nThe coast beyond is mostly dirty and sad,nthough at Bahia, an otherwise desolatenspot on the south side of an inlet, a smallnhotel (the Herradura) had unexpectedlynexceptional food, perhaps due to thenAmericans and Japanese coming in fromntheir shrimp farms along the estuary.nThe interior decorator, who must havenstudied Dada, had gone in heavily fornVictorian ironmongery painted dullnblack. Navigating the corridors to ournroom at night and being clouted by somenold sewing machine or flat iron, I foundnmyself longing for radar. I suspect thensame Olde Iron hand to have done thendecor, too, at the pleasant Rumpibambanhotel at Salcedo in the center of thenisland, where we found a group of cheerfulnBrits comfortably quartered as theynsold arms to Ecuador. There were,nin fact, more English about than expected—nthey can’t get into the Argentine,ndon’t forget—and dart boards werencommon in bars.nNorth of scruffy Quevedo lies SantonDomingo, another road hub, this one anneasy and lovely mountain drive from thencapital. It has become something of antourist trap thanks to the nearby settlementnof Colorado Indians, who pastentheir hair and faces with red mud. I didnnot find their enclave especially edifyingnnor their chief, when I met him, sober.nThere is a similar isolated group ofnCayapa Indians in the north-, but of thennearest hotel or lodging to them thenexcellent South American Handbookncautions, “We have been warned ofnsexual attacks by the owner.” Caveatnemptor.nA few minutes out of Santo Domingo,na now elderly Ecuadorian, SefiornTinalandia, married to an equally elderlynand delightfully eccentric white Russiannaristo, owns a vast property either side ofna trout stream. The inconspicuous roadsidenrestaurant, or mess shack, of hisnname hardly commends itself, but annovernight stay in one of the log cabinsnhigh up on idyllic tropical parkland behindnis well worth the price of admission.nThis is grandiose, isolated Andean country,nand on it the owner had created annastonishing 18-hole golf course, whosenhazards include his horses bathing in lilynponds. “For whom?” I asked him. “Fornmyself,” he replied gruffly. However,nTinalandia is booked solid most weekends,nour cabin having been occupiednevery Sunday for the past 20 years by andentist from the capital.nBut Quito is the pearl. Sprawlingnacross the equator in a magnificent setting,nunsullied by suburbs, it is dividednbetween the intact colonial Quito annuallynwhitewashed and belonging to thenIndians and the modern part with itsnshopping malls or centros commercialesncommon to most South American cities.nThere are none of the slums that sondisfigure Lima or Caracas.nOld Quito is a grouping of superbnbaroque churches and convents, rivalingnthe best of Mexican churrigueresque.nOn the central Plaza de la Independeneianstand the National Palace andnCathedral where Marshal Sucre, architectnof Ecuadorian independence, is entombed.nBut the two principal places ofnworship are the 16th-century San Francisco,non the square of that name, andnthe Jesuit Compariia around the corner,nbegun in 1605. Both are marvels ofncolonial baroque, all red and gold; thenlatter, with its fantastic Legarda altar, isnone of the finest such colonial examplesnin South America.nNo one can say the faith is dying innEcuador. There are 86 churches innQuito alone, and those we visited wereninvariably full. We could hardly squeezeninto the Gompafiia just after the Popenhad been shot. Indeed, to see many ofnthese polychrome interiors, we mustnhave averaged a dozen masses a day andnhad our hands wrung by neighbors tillnwe could feel them no more. In thenCompariia, in particular, I saw Indiannmothers not merely rubbing but scrubbingntheir infants’ faces against a polishednlog crucifix until they bawled. Onneither side of the central nave are shrinesnto saints visited by entire Indian familiesnat a time — including their cats and dogs.n(Overheard in front of one: “I burnt anbig candle to you last week and younnndidn’t grant my wish, so I’m not buyingnanother for you now.”) These shrinesnperform the role of miracle worker, adviser,nand confidant at once. Even so, Inwas surprised, standing at the entrance tonthe Compaiiia one noon, to see a businessmannstep in with briefcase, signnhimself, tug up his trousers, and kneel;nhe then dragged himself laboriously allnthe way up the nave to the main altar,ncomplete with case. This was no mendicantnindio triste but a coUar-and-tie type,nan Ecuadorian yuppie, possibly a banker,nperforming lunch-hour penance.nNor should the cloisters around thesenchurches be missed, either. Step off thenbusy streets of old Quito into La Mercednor San Augustin and you are in anothernworld, one of incredible quiet. “Teach usnto sit still,” as T.S. Eliot had it. Thesenplaces do. San Augustin contains thenChapter Hall of independence and onensuperbly gilded hallway leading to it.nQuito is well provided with hotels, allnwithin 10 minutes of the airport (thoughna new strip is being constructed farthernoff). We chose the Intercontinental withnits view over the lovely Guapolo sanctuaryn(closed to visitors) and long Cumbayanvalley northward to the Gayambenvolcano. To hear the cracked, 17thcenturynbells of the Guapolo while thenSet Decorator of the universe respondsnto the changing hues of sunset on thensnow with some finishing touches to thensky is a rare experience, indeed.nThe Intercontinental, too, has a rooftopnTecho del Mundo restaurant fromnwhich all this can be seen, though itsnfood is not up to much. One does not gonto Ecuador to eat, excepting king-sizensteaks (there are no meatless days as innPeru). Michelin would scatter few flowersnaround Quito, where, frankly, thenbest tables are often in the hands ofnforeigners. The restaurant of the ChaletnSuisse, a hotel run by a French Swiss, hasnbeen notoriously reliable in our opinion,nwhile an English couple, Rosemary andnPeter Bailey, presently offer quite thenmost sophisticated menus in town atnBailey’s, which is in fact their own house.nMost of these restaurants are quite small,nand there is no sidewalk cafe life innQuito—you have to go to Buenos Airesnfor that. Ecuador has few specialties. Itsnseafood, sent up from Guayaquil, isnexcellent. Llapingachos are mashed potatoesnfried with egg and breadcrumbsnaround a center of melted cheese. Sopande pata is not, as some tourists seem tonJANUARY 1988 / 41n