Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back To the Centro

Cathedral and Panecillo


I feel recharged when we visit the Centro Historico. I am still exploring, with surprises each time. Our day began at Maya's school, where the 'Dia de la Familia' was happening. I was hoping to meet Maya's friends and their parents, but Eric and Maya were not interested in staying past a hotdog and an ice cream. We headed for the opposite side of the city to see the last day of an exhibit of Berlin photographs in 1984 and 2005. Of course, the theme was the wall before and after it came down. I am not sure Maya has any understanding about it at all.


We ate at the Archbishop's Palace which is converted to eating establishments and souvenir shops. We like climbing to the top floor, to the restaurant (Hasta La Vuelta, Señor) named after an errant monk who kept sneaking out of the monastery nightly to carouse until he ran into Jesus and changed his ways. It has very traditional Ecuadorian fare. Eric gets 'llapingachos' everytime we are there. Maya orders a Ceasar's salad, and I tried sweet bananas and cheese and little corn balls and guacamole. I keep trying different dishes with each visit.

Archbishop's Palace

Eric wanted to be working on his grant at home, so he left Maya and I to explore some more. We visited the Museo Alberto Mena Caamaño, where the difficult transition from colony to independence from Spain was depicted, characterized by many bloody massacres and heroism. I learned that when Quito was the 'Real Audencia' under the Spanish crown, indigenous people could not enter the limits of the city, and that although the university was one of the earliest in the Americas, only Spanish born in Spain, or children of Spanish could go to university. When 'Eugenio Espejo', a noted Quiteño, went to university, he had to change his name and pretend to be Spanish. The push for independence came from the 'criollos', who were children of the original Spanish conquerors, but born in the New World. The crown was not happy with the idea of independence, and slaughtered many of those who pushed for independence. Our guide was very enthusiastic. I was pleased to have understood him, and was able to translate for Maya.

On our way out of the museum, and on our way home, we saw a line gathering at the presidential palace, and joined the queue. Getting into the palace is a little of a rigamarole, but once past the guards and the XRay machine, the palace is an oasis, with a huge mural by Guayasamin, fountains, big audience rooms and precious artwork from precolumbian tribes and the Quiteño school. We did not see Correa at the palace; he lives in a part of Quito to the north, and just works in the palace, but many presidents have in fact lived in the palace (called the Carondelet) during their term.

View of the Cathedral From the Palace

Carondelet Courtyard

The Centro Historico is not complete without music and street theatre. The Plaza Grande had several groups preforming, including those preaching for Jesus, folkloric dance, vaudeville, and Andean, Ecuadorian and Indian music. Ecuadorians love their music and performing.

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