Friday, May 7, 2010

Quito at its Best

The sun shone today and so did the city. It felt great to show off Quito with blue skies and warm sunshine. We fueled up on cappucino at Boncaffe, caught the Ecovia to the Alameda park, and walked along Guayaquil to the Teatro Sucre and then up to the Plaza Grande. I felt a little like a tourguide, but that came naturally, since I have visited the Centro Historico so many times. I know almost every street, corner, building, museum, but still find something new each time I walk through the narrow passageways.

Emily and I wandered through the Archbishop's Palace, then to La Sagraria, where the faithful were praying and lighting candles,and La Compania, where as always, the gold covering every inch of the church overwhelms the eye. We had lunch at Tianguez on Plaza San Francisco, and watched a stage being set up for a concert scheduled for tonight. Mothers and children and school girls and vendors of shawls and ice cream and candy strolled by, while the pigeons landed and flew off and circled and landed again. We spent a couple hours at the Casa Alabada admiring the collection (which remains as stunning as it felt the first time) and then sat and watched people on the plaza again as a band practiced for their show. Men and women and children and families sat on the steps or gathered in front of the stage in anticipation of the evening concert (three hours off!), and danced and sang along with the musicians. We found the Iglesia San Francisco in the midst of mass, and stayed for awhile listening to the music and the ritual. The small 'Bonaventure' chapel nearby was open for the first time in all my visits, with another mass going on with several nuns attending. I was surprised that on a Friday night both church and chapel were full of churchgoers. In fact I wondered if today was a particular day for Catholics, because masses were happening all over the historical centre. Could it be something to do with Mother's Day a couple of days away?

Emily and I returned to the Archbishop's Palace for a light dinner at 'Hasta la Vuelta, SeƱor' (the story is that a young priest went out nighty to drink and carouse, and would climb over a crucifix each time he went out, until Jesus talked to him, which led to his renouncing his nightly parties and becoming more devoted!) before the folkloric dance performance, which is held every Friday night at 7:30 in the inner courtyard. Most of the audience was Ecuadorian; we were the notable exception. The dances were familiar to me but no less entertaining, and the dancers' enthusiasm was contagious). I wanted to return to the concert at San Francsisco, but both Emily and I were suddenly tired and ready to go home, and I wanted to catch Maya before she went to sleep, and Emily had a skype date with her family.

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