Friday, October 9, 2009

Yacu Water Museum

Yacu means water in Quichua

Quito was quiet this morning when I took the Ecovia to Spanish class. It is a national holiday celebrating the Independence of Guayaquil, and last night Quiteños left the city in droves, traveling to the coast or to the countryside or to the mountains for a break. Maya was free of school and the university was closed. The streets were empty, the stores boarded up, the coffee shop next door shuttered. Republica del Salvador is teeming with office workers during a usual working day, but without them it is unusually calm and almost unsettling. The Ecovia was running and there were a few people in the bus, but the streets were empty and when I arrived in the Mariscal, a few coffee shops were opening.

I survived more verbs and struggled with Amparo all morning. She told me it is not unusual for students to suffer at this point, but she was convinced that I was starting to understand more-- she has far more confidence in me than I deserve. Eric and Maya had a lazy morning, and Eric brought Maya to join me later in the morning. She participated in our cooking class, and we all enjoyed our ceviche de pollo. I have tasted the ceviche with camarones, both the cooked kind in Ecuador and the raw form in Peru, and liked both. As per our prior experiences in the kitchen, there is an inordinate amount of preparation work that is necessary for Ecuadorian cooking, and all of us were chopping away for the time it took to prepare. The onions, tomatoes, cilantro, parsley and chicken all had to be diced. Popcorn and plantain chips are added to the ceviche, and actually do contribute to the taste. I was surprised that Maya ate as much as she did!

Amparo had suggested that Maya would be interested in the water museum, so we took a cab from the Mariscal. The taxiste had no idea where he was going, and I could not be helpful because I did not know our destination. He kept asking people along the side of the road for directions to the Water Museum, but most had no clue. Finally, we ascended up a steep and windy street to a hill across from the Panecillo with an expansive view of Quito in all directions. The taxsiste was very friendly and very proud of his country and had much to tell me about where I ought to go for the weekend.

View of Centro Historico with Santo Domingo in Background

The Yaku (water in Quichua) Museum is an interesting presentation of the purification and distribution of water. Most devastating was a series of photos presented to show the diminution of the glaciers in the major peaks through the avenue of the volcanoes. The earth is currently in a warming period, with its orbit keeping it closer to the sun. Every 95000 years the orbit changes so that the earth is farther from the sun, and this creates glaciation and the ice age. Currently our orbit is bringing us closer to the sun, which explains global warming to an extent. The complicating factor is the waste generated by humans, which is exacerbating the effects of the sun and the melting of the glaciers and the polar icecaps.

View of the Basilica

The museum is on the edge of a mountain, and the view over Quito is stunning. The city goes on for miles and miles in each direction, but the centro historico is immediately below and in front of the Yacu museum, and I liked being able to recognize the churches in the old city that I have come to know; the Cathedral, La Compania, St Augustine, Santo Domingo, San francisco and the Basilica. Above the hill is the monument to the battle of Pichincha, which has a museum of arms and weapons, which did not interest me much, other than the colourful mural which marks the sight. There was a child's section to the museum, which tried to show how the city collects, purifies and distributes the water to the people. Maya was able to turn dails and press buttons and participate in the 'hands on' part of the museum. There was a 'bubbles' room where all the adults became children again and made huge bubbles; none of us could get enough of the experience.

View of La Merced

Colonial Cemetary

We took the local bus on our way back (there was no taxi in sight and the guards did not seem to expect one). We had a rollercoaster ride down the narrow streets of El Tejar, the neighbourhood of stuccoed two and three storey apartment homes, teetering precariously on the side of the mountain. The streets had room for only one vehicle, so we were backing up to let the ice cream truck go by, and waiting for oncoming cars to pass before making wide turns, hardly managing the corners. We first went to the end of the line, waited for more passengers, then swooped down to the local cemetary, a huge market area which was not at all closed for the holiday, and then further into the centre of the city. We were the only estranjeros in sight, and an object of curiosity for the other passengers. I felt comfortable with Amparo, who has regular experience with the bus system. She has an hour and a half ride to work each day from Carapungo, but there is a faster way to get home for her. Near Quicentro on Shryris, there is a place to catch a taxi for a dollar, although she has to wait to fill the taxi, which takes a new fast road to the north. I felt relieved that she would not be taking a bus for too long, after our leisurely day at the Water Museum.

There was noise erupting at the Atahualpa Stadium when we arrived home. I never found out what was going on. Venders on the street were selling Ecuador soccer jerseys in anticipation of the game tomorrow between Ecuador and Uruguay. No tickets are available through the legitimate channels, but scalpers are everywhere. The mall was brimming with people, so I realized that Quiteños were not on the streets because they were at the mall!


  1. Ah! Now there is a name and a face behind the posts! You are much like I pictured you.....only thinner! Your daughter Maya is a beautiful blend of you and your husband! I'm glad you are enjoying Ecuador and I enjoy your photos every day. I too like the old city very much! Take care and I hope you are enjoying some good Ecuadorian coffee!

  2. Thank you!
    I am finding all sorts of places with good coffee, and I am adjusting to Ecuadorian coffee! Ecuador is no doubt an adventure!