November 26, 2013
It was in 1959, a Saturday, when having lunch, our family had a rather odd experience. Quito was at that time a small city, numbering perhaps 500,000 inhabitants (the previous and very first census in 1950 said that Quito had 250,000), and most activities developed in downtown. There were not malls or supermarkets, and the concept of getting all what you needed in one single place was all but unknown. At most you had Almacenes El Globo, whose owner was Paco Dalmau, a very nice person, born in Spain. It was located one block from the Plaza Grande, that is to say, in the very heart of the city. You found there all kind of items for home use, as today’s Almacenes Sukasa, but at a very small scale. Besides, most of the main business, even car dealers, had their showrooms in downtown. I remember Caterpillar with its place very close to our home.
But even entertainment was very simple. We had several cinemas, the most important being Teatro Bolívar, less than two blocks from Plaza Grande, and there were others at the both ends of the city, as Teatro Colón, located as far as 10 de Agosto and Colón, and Teatro México in Chimbacalle, very close to the railway station. The bullfight ring was Plaza Arenas, in calle Vargas, close to the Basílica, in the center of Quito. We enjoyed performances of the most famous matadors from Ecuador, Spain, México, etc., but by far not as many as the ones that we appreciated in Plaza de Iñaquito afterwards, from 1960 to 2011.
Talking bullfight rings, there is another one named Plaza Belmonte (1920), after the famous Spanish matador Juan Belmonte. But as I remember, there were not bullfights any more on it but only popular dancing events and masking balls, around New Year season. This small plaza, actually very well restored and that is a wonderful place worth to visit it, received at that time a number of circus shows, with some animals and the like.
And that brings us to the start of this brief note, as a sudden big shadow covered the light of our octagonal patio and a banging noise in the roof of our home indicated that something fell there. All our family run out of the dining room to see what has happened, and our surprise was great as we saw a condor, the biggest bird in the world, just standing over the tiled roof, without moving much.
Now, our home limited in the north side with Plaza Belmonte, and in circus times we could actually smell the lions and hear all the paraphernalia. Few minutes later a group of people from the circus came, went up through a big ladder that we had and calmly feed the big bird, after its failed freedom attempt, and took him back to captivity.
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