Saturday, August 15, 2009

Music and Dancing

We just came home late from an outdoor concert celebrating the two hundred year anniversary of Ecuador's founding. It took alot of energy to convince Maya and Erika to join me, but it was well worth the effort. Maya and I were in the historic center of the city during the day and watched the set-up for the concert on the square in front of the Church of San Francisco. We left the house be 9 AM and had the whole day to explore old Quito. We arrived at the Teatro Sucre, where we saw an exhibit of photographs of Quito in the early 70's. The city has changed so much in the last forty years, it is hardly recognizable. My father worked in Ecuador for the FAO/UN in the late sixties and has wonderful memories of his time in Quito, but it was a smaller and safer and quieter town at that time.

Since we have a year to explore Quito, there was no rush to see everything. We had entered the 'Compania' church and the Santa Sagraria a few days ago. This time we wandered to Plaza Grande, walked through the shops at the Archbishop's Palace, tried to enter the Presidential Palace but were told to return at 1300, but when we did, we were refused entrance because we did not have the bracelets we did not know we were supposed to have, but perhaps the rules simply changed between 11 and 1 PM. We did peek through the wrought iron gates and spied Guayasamin's controversial mural, and were perfectly content to return another day and deal with whatever the rules may be that day.

We spent hours in the museum at San Francisco church, and I was amazed at how much I could tell Maya about St Francis and the Franciscans. At first, most of what I recalled was from Zeffirelli's movie 'Brother Sun, Sister Moon', but then I remembered that I had visited Assisi with Tara and Maya only a few years ago, and learned much about St Francis at that time. I have to adjust to the 'Quito School' of art, which is very dramatic and often overwhelming. The church has been closed for some time for renovations, but we were able to enter the choir above, where I was struck by the Moorish influence, and was surprised again about how much I remembered from my visit to southern Spain over thirty years ago!

Maya and I ate on the huge square in front of the church and watched the setup for the concert, and listened to many groups practicing their music. I was determined to return for the evening. The music was Ecuadorian and Latin American, mostly from the high Andes, and surprisingly familiar. It was a delight to watch the crowd dancing and singing to the music. Most of the crowd were local people, proud to be Ecuadorian and Andean.

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