Pushing My Limits in Quito
If I hadn’t known I was supposed to feel unsafe, I wouldn’t have. The day we spent in Quito was all blue skies and sunshine, a pleasant environment for a whistle-stop spin through the old town.
We bought overpriced grapes from a street vendor, watched people chase pigeons, and had a leisurely sit on a bench in the middle of the main square, admiring the buildings.
There wasn’t much that we wanted to do, but with a nice afternoon and several spare hours, I suggested walking up to the Basilica del Voto Nacional, a neo-gothic cathedral that I’d read about in this post by Arianwen of Beyond Blighty.
In it, she details how you can climb to the top of this beautiful building, via a sketchy staircase.
At this point I am compelled to remind you of this fun fact: I am afraid of heights.
Yet, I suggested the cathedral. I readily agreed to pay the small entrance fee to climb it. I happily traipsed up the interior stairs and barreled down the corridor above the nave.
When we got inside one of the clock towers, my enthusiasm waned. Aware of just how high we were, my insides started to curdle and I gripped the iron railings of the staircase.
We had the great misfortune of being inside the tower at the stroke of noon. Bells clanged, echoing in the little chamber, and I nearly shat myself.
After a few brief minutes at the top, with me testing every step and quivering whenever I got near the ledge, we went back down.
Then we got to the viewing platform that Arianwen wrote about.
It was awful. These iron ladders go straight up, with a thin safety net dangling behind them. The thing about the safety net is that you can see right through it, making you viscerally aware of just how high you are and for no good reason.
I almost turned around right then.
The weird thing about the fear of heights is that somewhere in the back of my mind, I’m convinced that some dark, spontaneous force in my body is going to take over and pitch me over the edge.
This is totally illogical and probably weird.
And I know that, so I fought the fear and slowly crawled up the ladders.
The view was spectacular, but the feeling of getting back down was even more fulfilling.
I guess that’s travel for you. Pushing the limits of your comfort zone, without any real understanding of why you’re doing it.