Friday, June 4, 2010

Mariscal Return

Plaza Foch

I remember when we first moved to Ecuador and were trying to decide where to live and our Ecuadorian friends warned us against the Mariscal because it was reputed to be too dangerous. The apartment that we fell in love with and lost was a couple of blocks from the Mariscal and that made it dangerous too (of course Eric was robbed not too far from the apartment, so we had some confirmation of our fears).

In the end, we decided on Republica del Salvador, and I have not regretted our choice. I like our street and having Quicentro and Megamaxi and Cyrano's all in walking distance, and of course Carolina Park has been a blessing. I have felt safe here (although we had warnings about the park and our street as well-- in the end no place in Quito is considered 'safe', one has to take care at all times, which one does get accustomed to) and have enjoyed all the amenities at our fingertips.

But I never tire of returning to the Mariscal. It is easy to get there in a straight line on the Ecovia for 25 cents, during the daytime the streets are safe to walk and wander, and there is always activity and entertainment on the streets and in the dozens of establishments directed to tourists and locals alike. My Spanish classes are on Jose Calama just off Seis, and I can get juice at the fruit store at the corner after I get off the bus, a coffee at Nocion on Foch, and paper and pencils at the Papeleria on the way to class. Internet is available at the school, as are hours and hours of Spanish too (we watched a Spanish movie from Spain today, which was a challenge to understand without subtitles, even the Ecuadorians had difficulty understanding) and of course camaderie with the other students and teachers, and our salsa class is nearby on Reina Victoria, where I have a blast and Eric suffers. Jipsum has bought the place from Gladys, the original owner, and has made it into a bar/nightclub as well as dance school. Eric and I need desperately to get out at night and dance to the early hours (which is unlikely).

We wander about after class, deciding where to eat. The Magic Ban was full, so we ended up the Coffee Tree on the square on Foch, where we can do some people watching. A policeman in his motorcycle keeps watch, shoe shiners try to shine our shoes for a quarter, and it is mostly young people who walk by.

Catolica University is just a couple of blocks up the hill, so this is a good place to meet. The Artisan Market is nearby, and soon, we must make our final purchases before we return home, but that will happen next week, after Eric's grant is due.

I walk down the familiar streets, past tourist agencies and dozens of bars/restaurants, as well as two Libri Mundis (my favourite bookstores). I wonder what our year would have been like if we had chosen to live in the Mariscal or nearby, perhaps in our dream apartment; what sorts of experiences we would have had and how different it would have been for us.

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