Monday, April 12, 2010


Archangel Michael, Quito School

I was woken up early, with the sounds of shovels and pickaxes and scraping outside my window, which is unusual, because I have become accustomed to the sounds of the birds waking up long before humans start moving. By the time Maya and I were downstairs waiting for the bus, we saw two trucks disgorging both men and women workers in orange safety vests and helmets. They carried with them a variety of primitive instruments. I was surprised I had not seen or heard a jackhammer; their job was to dig a trench a foot wide in the sidewalk. Later in the day, I saw them introduce a large plastic pipe, which will house all the electrical wires that are now a tangled mess above us. I shudder to think of the mess of wires underground, but at least I will not have to look at them. I am always amazed that life works here; there is electricity most days (except for our four months of apagones) and internet and phone service and everything you would ordinarily find in any other city, and it all functions efficiently most of the time.

Tearing up the Street

Having watched a movie until 2 AM last night ( I could not sleep), I tried to catch up and rest this morning, and was unusual, especially since I did not wake up until close to 11. I felt so much better, with less pain and more energy. I gave myself a few hours to research cervical disc disease and make contact with neurosurgeons, none of which will have much to do with me until I provide them with the copy of the MRI. I could not get hold of Hernan to expedite the MRI report and copies, so I escaped and pursued my exploration of Quito.

I had read about another good collection of precolumbian art, and chose to search for the Anhalzer-Valdivieso collection on Colon Street. I have yet to figure out the street numbering system, and found myself walking at length along Colon in the wrong direction, which was fine because I had never seen this part of Colon before. When I finally retraced myself and walked up the hill along Baca Ortiz' Children's Hospital, I did not see a sign for the museum and walked further up the hill. I was confused to find that the museum was in the upstairs part of a folkloric store called Olga Fisch. The store has a beautiful collection of typical Folkloric art, but very pricey and beyond my reach.

The collection is small but stunning. I am a glutton when it comes to archeological finds, and I realize that I can never get enough, and my visit to La Florida revived my interest and desire to see more of the precolumbian architecture and artifacts. The Valdivians were the first established culture on the coast of Ecuador, and they are known for their penchant for small female figures made of stone or ceramic. The women are young and old and pregnant and breastfeeding and there are hundreds of them. They are amulets, ritual objects, and fertility symbols. It almost appears that women were worshiped in this culture. I wonder if they were a matriarchal culture and what happened to change them?

Bahia Ceramic

Jama Coaque

The Bahia culture, the Jama-Coaque, the Tolita, the Chorrerra, the Guagala and the ManteƱa cultures were all well represented. I am always stunned at the style and beauty of these objects, and how very descriptive they are of the people and societies that once populated Ecuador.

Jama Coaque

Jama Coaque
The museum had a small colonial section, and also an explanation of the Corpus Christi festival and how the indigenous traditions and beliefs are integrated with the Catholic celebration. The local people have been converted to Catholicism, but have maintained their customs and simply adapted them to the new order. An example is the veneration of several different and distinct 'Virgin Mary's, all the same 'Mary' but each with different attributes and purposes.

I am not ready to leave Quito, there is so much I have yet to do! My original plan was a flurry of weekend trips to Loja and the coast and Guayaquil again and Riobamba and Chimborazo and Mindo and more, and several corners of the city that are not yet crossed off on my list. On the one hand I feel that I know the city and the country well, yet there is so much more to see and do!

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