sábado, 30 de noviembre de 2013

An Andean Condor visits Our Home

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.

We will be happy to organize a great adventure or holiday for you. Visit us at: www.surpasstravel.com, specialized in-land tour operator from Ecuador.

viernes, 30 de agosto de 2013

Life in Quito 60 Years Ago

 Very early in the morning, sometimes under a light rain, as it was mid April, we, some of Colegio San Gabriel’s high school students, used to meet at the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús in the old Quito and join the procession known as “Rosario de la Aurora”, Rosary of the Dawn. During nine days we visited several downtown neighborhoods, that is: one day San Juan, other day La Loma, other San Marcos, San Roque, El Tejar, etc. In each of the local churches we stopped to pray a few moments and then returned to La Compañía, where at 5h00 a.m. mass was celebrated. There was always many people attending and you could find every year most of the same persons.

I guess that it made us love the city more than anything else because we were having a spiritual experience, at an extraordinary hour, mixed with the visual exposure to charming streets and churches visited when seldom you may see people walking around. One notable highlight was the clear, strong and unforgettable voice of Don Jaime Acosta Velasco, always leading the singing and praying. He and many of the participants are gone now. However, the central point was returning to La Compañía. Even at that epoch, late 50’s and early 60’s, our beloved church was dazzling and sharing its beauty with everyone.

But afterwards we had to hurry home to have breakfast and rush to school.

We will be happy to organize a great adventure or holiday for you. Visit us at: www.surpasstravel.com, specialized in-land tour operator from Ecuador.

martes, 30 de julio de 2013

What Quito means for me: A life of experiences in this beautiful city

 Old Quito has been something I have treasured along all my life. Not surprisingly I was born there at a time when the city was a bit more than the colonial downtown. Thus I grew up surrounded by magnificent monuments and neighborhoods. But don’t be misleaded: Many of them were sometimes in bad shape or neglected by simple centuries-long use with little care.

Nevertheless, when I was a teenager, my friends and I used to walk along those streets, sometimes very narrow, at early down or even before. At that time, and with very few people walking around, it was possible to recognize all the beauty and its historical connotations.

Now-a-days there have been a deep change: Most monuments have been refurbished and lighted so one can admire them in full view, and the streets show their charm.

Earthquakes –along centuries- have charged their toll, as well. Not surprisingly some temples such as La Merced, San Francisco, La Compañía, suffered badly. However it took great pains and lots of time to fix them up.

Last weekend my wife and I walked around old downtown and rediscoveded much of it: San Francisco was unbilievably sparkling with its own beauty, not to mention the most significant monuments as La Compañía, La Merced, Cantuña chapel, etc., which have all been put on at its best.

How lucky we are in that we can visit our old magnificent place whenever we feel fit, even some places that we have even avoided for decades, as San Marcos quarter, La Ronda, El Panecillo, La Loma… and so on.

We will be happy to organize a great adventure or holiday for you. Visit us at: www.surpasstravel.com, specialized in-land tour operator from Ecuador.