Friday, November 6, 2009

Carolina Park

A loud obnoxious noise woke me up. It was our generator keeping the elevators running. No electricity for us this morning. I was eager to have my morning coffee, but without electricity, the machines were not working, so I read 'El Comercio' instead. I learned that the reservoir is empty and there is no hydroelectric power and until it rains, there will be revolving shutdowns throughout the city. It appears that Quiteños are accustomed to such outages and take them in stride. Many of the larger buildings have generators precisely for such circumstances.

I read the schedule for the shutdowns. Every section of the city has a five to six hour period without electricity once or twice a day. Ours lasted from 6 AM until 11 AM. I will have to check tomorrow's hours when I read my morning paper, hopefully with my cappuccino.

There does not appear to be any suggestion of pending rain. The skies are blue, the sun shines. I have been delighted with the weather and did not realize how unusual it is for Quito to have so little rain in the winter. I had been warned that it would rain daily until February or March and it did rain daily for about a week, but since then blue skies and sunshine are the norm.

I enjoyed the sunshine by venturing into Carolina Park today (after finding that Quicentro, the shopping mall near our apartment, had huge humming generators and therefore electricity for coffee machines!) I have walked around the perimeter of the park, and have carefully marched across from Maya's orchestra practice to our apartment (nervously, scanning my surroundings), but I have been too uncertain to actually enter into the park. During the day there are always men playing soccer, some tennis players, a few joggers, and I always check for police patrolling. They walk, ride bikes, ride horses, and motorcycles, and patrol in pairs.

I saw no police today. I found the Botanical Gardens instead, and escaped into a serene and peaceful oasis. Desert, paramo, cloud forest, and rainforest were all represented. The carnivorous plants were most entertaining, and an orchid exhibit combined with butterflies flying about had me lose track of time.

It has taken me months to start exploring this huge green space near my house. There is a dinosaur exhibit and a theatre for children, and spaces for equavolley (volleyball with a soccer ball) and soccer and tennis and running paths and bike paths and restaurants and cafes. I felt comfortable and safe in the park today; I hope this is the first of many visits.

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