Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Carmen Bajo

My favourite place to walk is the Centro Historico. I like to wander and see where my feet lead me. I get off at 'Simon Bolivar', which takes me through Alameda Park and past the Astronomical Observatory and a huge sculpture of Freedom in the hands of Bolivar. It is then a long walk down Guayaquil to the Plaza del Teatro and then a long way up to Plaza Grande. If I go one more stop on the Ecovia, I get to 'La Marin', which is also a large market (associated with a market for stolen goods, which I have not visited as of yet), and take a long uphill climb to the main Plaza. There are many different paths that I can take, and all sorts of distractions, so I just trust that I will find something interesting and new with each visit.

Walking Up From La Marin

Teatro Sucre

Plaza del Teatro

I went to La Marin today and climbed up the hill, but then decided to visit the Teatro Sucre to get a schedule of events for the month.Bullfights and cockfights happened on the plaza in colonial times, replaced by street theatre today. The square was quiet in the hot sun. I climbed up Guayaquil and saw the door to the Monastery of Carmen Bajo open for the first time. I am frustrated by all the closed doors to the churches and the convents. I hurried up Mejia to check if I could enter the church, but the door that was open entered into a vestibule where again the doors were closed. It appeared that the convent sells things, which are displayed in a window in the vestibule, but there were no attendants. I walked to the next big church door, which was closed, and around the corner to another large door, also closed. Half the door was occupied by a statue of Christ clothed and sitting on a chair. Several people came to pray in front of the statue while I watched.

I returned to Guayaquil and admired San Augustin again, and walked on to the Bolivar Theatre, which was burned in 1999 and not yet restored, although it is used regularly for productions. When I came by Santa Catalina Church and convent, I decided to return to San Marcos Street (Junin) and entered the Manuela Saenz Museum, where I was introduced to the revolutionary period in the history of Ecuador.

Bolivar Theatre

Burned Bolivar Theatre

My guide was informed and enthusiastic about her subject. ' Manuelita' is called the 'Liberatora del Liberador', for she saved the life of Simon Bolivar on more than one occasion. She was a revolutionary hero and the lover of Bolivar for many years. She was born in Quito, an illegitimate child, lsot her mother young and attended the Convent of Santa Catalina for school until she was asked to leave at 17. She then lived with her father until a marriage was arranged for her. She married a wealthy English merchant and lived in Lima, but at some point met Bolivar in Quito and joined the revolution against Spain. She was devoted to Bolivar and played an active role in the struggles for independence. After Bolivar died, she was exiled from her native Ecuador and lived in Jamaica and then northern Peru. She died of diptheria and was buried in a communal mass grave and her belongings burnt. She is considered a hero of the independence movement for Ecuador.

Colonial Buildings

Military Baroque

Selling Pharmaceutical Products

I realized that I have paid too little attention to the history of Ecuador past the Spanish conquest, and today was an opportunity to look at the city and the country from another perspective. My guide was just as enthusiastic about Bolivar as she was about Manuela Saenz. A complete room in the museum was devoted to Bolivar, who was apparently very short ( one meter 49?). I took a tour through the museum with a Venezuelan couple, who were very excited about Bolivar, and had lots of questions, such that we had only gone through a small part of the museum when I had to excuse myself and rush to another salsa lesson. I was relieved that I had not forgotten too much, and Jipson taught me several new moves, which Eric will have to catch up with.

Door at Santa Catalina

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