Dear Cosmopolitan Cities of the World,
Your public parks suck.
Okay. That may be a little harsh. Lot’s of cities have plenty of very nice parks. I’d be a fool to say that Stanley Park in Vancouver, or Zilker Park in Austin are nothing compared to Parque La Carolina. But I simply wasn’t expecting to see so much pride, and liberally-used tax dollars in the Ecuadorian equivalent of Central Park. Before arriving in Quito, I knew that I’d be staying adjacent to the park, but that didn’t provide much a sense of comfort. I had been spending enough time googling “Quito” that I thought I knew it all; dangerous city, don’t go out at night, stay on the main streets, etc… Obviously I wouldn’t be spending any time in a giant, crime-ridden, park!
I don’t know which Quito these people had been to, but it sure wasn’t the same one I spent five days exploring.
Parque La Carolina is not only safe, but it is clean, well-lit, and full of more variety than any other park I’ve seen. I’d have expected to see a few walking trails, picnic benches, and maybe a small playground for the kiddos. But, Parque La Carolina also has at least two workout areas with “adult” playground equipment, a motocross style bike path, a botanical garden, ball courts of all types, plenty of wide open spaces, and a squishy blue running track.
At the time I visited, they were also in the process of completing several other fairly large projects. In fact, it seemed like almost every park or public space was undergoing some sort of renovation. Maybe this has something to do with Ecuador’s rather progressive tax system. Sales tax is 12% and included with all purchases. (Think nice, round, numbers.) And, their income tax varies from 5% – 35% for the most wealthy.
I thought this was a pretty steep sales tax. Most places in the US max out at about 10% tops. But Wikipedia had some surprising numbers.
Anyway, this liberal taxation seems to pay off. Most of the public spaces are very clean, in good repair, and there are always plenty of state workers providing security, or working on maintenance.
Getting to the park and finding parking is pretty easy. Avenida de los Shyris does a rather clever thing by placing angle parking in the middle of the street. Not only does this make the road significantly wider, (They close it down for marches and other events) but it provides quite of bit of convenient parking right next to the park.
So… Check it out!
How about ending with a nice gallery of flowers from the Jardín Botánico de Quito.