Week 5 – Quito, Ecuador
Hi everybody! We’ve had a fairly quiet week this week with a few days of R&R, so it might be a bit of a short post this week. The Fiestas de Quito have been ongoing though so we have been to a few events!
Following a very lazy few days, today we went back to visit our Spanish school. Even though we finished our lessons there last week, once they knew we were still in Quito they invited us back for their “Fiestas de Quito” party, which was really nice of them. The 5th December is the final day of the celebrations, before a national holiday on the 6th. The Spanish school put on a big lunch for us all, with roast turkey. It was really nice, and felt a bit Christmassy, although that wasn’t the aim. Two of the teachers dressed up in traditional costumes and read out a poem to commemorate the day.
In the afternoon Ben and I went to sit in the Plaza Grande. The Plaza is always busy, even in the middle of the day, and people tend to just sit there reading the newspaper, chatting or watching street performers. I wanted to join in, so we found a shady spot and sat reading our kindles for a bit. It was quite fun, although it’s hard to concentrate in noisy Quito! Street vendors are really common here, especially ones selling fruit or sweet treats like jelly or mousse. They even tend to stand down the middle of the road at traffic lights to sell to people in their cars. While I think it’s a clever idea to sell snacks to people trapped in rush hour traffic, I don’t think I’d ever be tempted to roll down my window and buy a bag of avocados from a roadside seller! Anyway, the vendors all use this really specific tone of voice that’s a bit like a piercing whine, presumably to get heard through all the chatter. It doesn’t make it easy to concentrate on a book! The Plaza and the nearby shops were decorated in honour of the festivals, in blue and red, the colours of the Quito flag.
In the evening, we decided to go to an event called “Plazas de Quito”. Large stages had been erected in four of the main squares of the historic centre. Each one had different performances going on. All of the streets were closed off to traffic, and it felt like almost everybody in the city had turned out for the event. It was really busy! We walked from plaza to plaza, listening to the music. One of the stages seemed to be hosting local dance performances, another had traditional music, and the third was more like a pop concert. Some enterprising Quiteñas were selling stools, for people who were tired of standing. They’d walk through the crowd waving the stools in the air, which looked quite funny! Every so often, somebody would shout out “¡Viva Quito!” and everyone would shout back “¡Viva!”. It was a really cool atmosphere.
Along every street there were people selling food, and there were loads of stalls selling their favourite drink, Canelazo. I think we passed by five stalls in a row, each with a saucepan full of it. Even one of the bookshops had opened late and was selling Canelazo from their door. Luckily it’s really tasty so demand matched supply!
Today didn’t work out quite as planned, but luckily it turned out to be an awesome day anyway. In the morning we decided to visit one of the most famous museums in Quito, “la Capilla del Hombre”, but we didn’t realise that today was a national holiday! It turns out that this is one of the only days in the year that the museum is closed.
Fortunately, right next to the museum is one of Quito’s largest parks, Parque Metropolitano. It’s huge (557 hectares apparently), and a lot more rugged than the carefully laid out Parque Carolina that we visited last week. It’s mostly wooded, and because it sits on a hill above Quito it has some amazing views of the city. The park has different trails that you can follow through the woodland, as well as having some play parks, a dog agility course (I’m not kidding, it had its own separate fenced off area like the children’s play park!), a calisthenic workout area and some barbeque pits.
We hadn’t thought to bring any food with us, but luckily there were food stalls near the entrance of the park. We decided to have cevichocos, the slightly strange Ecuadorian delicacy that we made in our Spanish school a couple of weeks ago! It was really tasty.
After lunch we followed one of the trails through the park. There were lots of viewpoint opportunities, and at one they had put a large metal QUITO sign. Of course that made it an obligatory photo stop! You could climb on top of it so we had fun posing in different ways!
Today we had a fairly chilled day. We decided to walk to Parque Carolina, which we’d really enjoyed the week before. It’s quite a walk, so we stopped on the way to try some empañadas, another Ecuadorian delicacy and one that both of our Mums had discovered and made for us before we left England! These ones were filled with ham, cheese and tomato. They were yum.
Carolina park was much quieter than when we saw it at the weekend. We chose to sit next to the boating lake. There’s an island in the middle that you can cross a bridge to get to, so we settled down in the shade with our kindles to read for a while. It feels strange to be sunbathing in December!
Close to the entrance of the park there were a number of stalls set up that hadn’t been there last week. We went to check them out and found that they were all selling Christmas stuff. I wanted to buy a decoration that we could take back to England with us. Most of the things for sale were very similar to what you could buy in England, but we did find half a walnut with a tiny Mary, Joseph and Jesus inside it. It’s quite cute, although Joseph looks a bit worried!
Today we had a quiet day at home. We decided yesterday that we missed British food, so having had enough of chicken and potatoes… we decided to have a roast dinner this evening, of chicken and potatoes! We felt very English, making gravy in the middle of Ecuador!
I thought this would be quite a short post – lazy days don’t lend themselves to blogging. We’re in Quito next week too, and we’ll catch up with you all next week!