miércoles, 2 de abril de 2014

Two Famous Ecuadorians and The Pichincha Volcano

The mountains that surround Quito are a special attraction not only for the visitors but also for its inhabitants. Of course, all of them are volcanoes, more or less active; some have not seen activity perhaps in hundreds of years while one of them erupted just fourteen years ago, and this was precisely Pichincha.

In high school time I belonged to the Club of Mountaineering of Colegio San Gabriel, located just at the feet of Rucu Pichincha, one of the five summits belonging to Pichincha. It was a permanent invitation and we accepted it very often, specially after observing as two of our teachers, young Jesuit students at the time (‘maestrillos’ in the Jesuit argot), used to climb several of the summits in the morning and returned to lunch time!

This is a nice place to remember them: Hernán Rodríguez Castelo y Fabián Zurita. I don’t know if Hernán continued mountain activity upon returning to Ecuador after his studies of Theology in Comillas, Spain, and leaving the Jesuit Order, or if he ever climbed some while studying there. Fabián continued his passion for the mountain during and after his Theology studies in Granada, Spain, quiting the Jesuits afterwards and making mountaineering and education related to it a profession, and he keeps on working with groups that love mountain life and its values. Hernán, in the other hand, is perhaps the greatest humanist ever produced by Ecuador. He has written more than one hundred books and deals with several subjects with great rigor and skill: History, Art, Music, Literature, Theater, etc, and is member of the Academia Ecuatoriana de la Lengua and Academia Ecuatoriana de Historia. He is in his early 80’s and Fabián in his late 70’s. I remember both of them with special fondness.
I continued cultivating the taste for mountain during university time; however my climbing interests faded abruptly one day in 1967 when with a group of friends decided to go up to Rucu Pichincha’s summit, not through the route of the sandbanks but directly by the rocks that have the form of a backbone. It was not the first time that I had crossed this way, yet this time, as I got to the ‘Aguja’ and ‘Paso de la Muerte’ (Needle and Death Pass), I suddenly realized how dangerous it was and start asking myself what was I doing there! So I decided to go down the rocks through the south face of the Needle –that turned out to be a more dangerous route- and finally got to the summit and meet the other members of our group.

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, Peru and Southamerica.

jueves, 27 de marzo de 2014

Quito Seen by a Kid: City of Coup, and Politics

Coup! Politics! Those were the key words to remember in several periods of our History. However, I would like to remember a specific one: The day before the fall of President José María Velasco Ibarra, in Tuesday, November 7, 1961.

I remember the great demonstrations promoted by former allies, months before. You could not walk around freely because suddenly you may be involved in a big strike. Sometimes they erupted at night and the mounted police appeared menacing with their sabers. Of course there were some tricks, for example to throw marbles between the hulls of the horses so they slipped and the riders lost balance. All looked very funny and many of the young people were there just for the amusement, despite the danger.

Because, in fact, it was dangerous, specially when in our neighborhood the students of the Universidad Central (Central University) started firing at the police and it answered alike.

The day prior to the fall of the President -all schools have been closed for a while- a group of friends met at the house of one of us, just in the corner of the street that became the ‘battle field’. When fire started we went to the terrace, say a third floor. The police below spotted us but they soon discovered that we were simple onlookers; nevertheless they stared at us once in a while.

It seemed to us that the armed students had some Mauser rifles, the very ones used by the police, and they were three streets far and uphill from the corner where we were, so we could hear the firing just perfectly. Furthermore, some bullets were hitting against the walls and the balconies of the houses placed in their shooting range. So it was too dangerous leave the house and go out, worse still to cross the street. But it was exactly what happened next: A lady, dressed in a very red garment started to walk, despite police advise to stop and return. She walked a few paces before a bullet hit her and fell and started to bleed profusely. It was shocking. After that, all of us went down indoors until night, when police took control. We never knew what happened to the lady, although next day papers talked about deaths and injured people.

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, Peru and Southamerica.