Sunday, September 6, 2009


I willed myself to wake up without fear and panic, to put aside our bout of extraordinary bad luck and move on. How is it that every one of our replacement phones does not work? I realize that I have been without a phone for over a month, and I have managed to survive, albeit less efficiently than I'd like. Eric bought both a replacement computer today and a hard drive for his other computer, after which I insisted that we make the day more fun and entertaining. We took a taxi to the Panecillo, a hill past the centro historico, which is topped by the dancing virgin, which I see in the distance from the terrace of Isabel's house. The hill was full of quitenos enjoying their Sunday. The wind was blowing and kites were flying. A group of musicians were playing their flutes along with Andean music, and not too far away children were competing for prizes in a Michael Jackson dance contest. We climbed inside the statue of the virgin and had an incredible view in all directions. Cotopaxi was closer, I could see Cayambe clearly, and the historical centre was laid out before me, each of the churches and plazas neatly defined.

It is too dangerous to walk down from the Panecillo (which was a surprise to me, it seems like a wonderful place to live with an incredible view), so we took a taxi to the old town and strolled around. We ate at the top floor of the archbishop's palace off the Plaza Grande. Eric had has favourite 'locro de papa' soup and I tried the 'llapingachos', which are potato pancakes with cheese inside, along with chorizo and an egg. The main plaza is always full of people watching people, eating ice cream or selling ice cream, listening or not listening to a man preaching about Jesus and the bible, or watching enthusiastically when an Italian folkloric group dances for them. I could stay and watch the world go by all day on the Plaza Grande, but we left before 6 to avoid being out after dark. Eric wanted to take a taxi to be safe, but we took the Trole instead, which brought us through the length of the city in a very crowded space. Our stop is the end of the line, and the walk to Isabel's home passes the Plaza de Toros.

As we walked home, I noticed again that the houses are hidden behind high walls with iron bars, or glass at the top of the walls or electric wires or signs attesting to security systems. I realized that these walls are not so much for privacy as for security , and now I appreciate why people choose to live this way. They are concerned about their safety. I understand why we are told not to be out and about after 6, that we are at risk when walking alone in the streets after dark. The city is quiet at night, it is almost eerie to be about after a certain hour. And Isabel and Erica and the family like to lock themselves in at night and remain inside. It makes more sense to me now than several weeks ago.
Santiago's mother was proud to show us her house when we visited on Friday. I was surprised to see an alcove that appeared to be a chapel, full of religious symbols and statues. She had heard what had happened to Eric, and she insisted, when I admitted to being Catholic, that I wear a blue ribboned pin to protect me. I was worried that I was not wearing it today, and popped it into my purse just in case it does in fact keep me safe.


  1. Quick comment while I'm thinking about it:

    You have not mentioned whether or not you've gotten your 'censo' (not sure that's the spelling), but you need to register your visa with the local immigration office, and then get a local ID. Without this ID, you may not be able to leave the country after a certain time...

  2. I think we need an address to do that, but that is next on our list!