Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

Quito

In many ways, Quito is like any other big city: an orgy of new faces, sounds, sights, and smells, fascinating and entrancing…for about 8 hours.  Then it’s just crowded, loud, and intolerable.  When the hell are we heading South?

 

 

But by the second day, I was able to get past some of that and get a feel for the energy of the place.  There are still way too many people, endless busses spewing diesel shits, and the constant danger of merely trying to cross the street, but I began to notice that people will look you in the eye on the streets and nod or even smile.  There is an innately positive energy here, not the desperate pain that you can’t help but feel in the streets of New York or Seoul or Tokyo.   Sure, there is poverty, but that’s not what people wear on their faces.

 

There is also such amazing history in Quito.  The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, full of hilly cobblestone streets, beautiful buildings of riotous colors, and street vendors selling endless black market goods. (Windows 7 for $5, anyone?)

 

The newer part of the central city (The Mariscal) is in many ways designed for gringos – modern, hip restaurants and bars, swanky shops, menus in English, and everywhere the street vendors and local goods.  Kids and adults jump on and off the busses at every stop to make their pitch: empanadas, candy, water…and super glue?  At one point, two young black teens got on, fired up their boom box, and started to rap for us about the earthquake in Chile and the plight of the indigenous Ecuadorans (certainly worth a quarter).  Anything to make a few cents.

 

The second night, we were on our way home at night in the middle of a downpour and saw three guys, each standing on the others’ shoulders, in the middle of a 10-lane road, all juggling with fire.  Goddamn impressive, if you ask me.  Holly had no idea how they dismounted.  I had no idea how they went about collecting the cash from the cars flying by.

 

The topography is also quite impressive, even though it was mostly cloudy the two full days I was there.  The city is ringed with mountains and volcanoes, cut all the way up by homes and farms.  The valley itself is at 10,000 feet and I certainly wasn’t up for a hike up Pinchincha after flying in from sea level.  In fact, the first two days, I was numb from my fingers to my elbows and occasionally in the lips and feet because of a lack of oxygen.  Luckily, this was easily cured once we started drinking and smoking.  Go figure.

 

My sister Holly has spent the last three months with a host family here and we were invited over on our second-to-last night in Quito for her host mother’s birthday.  “Just come over after work for a cup of coffee.”  Not wanting to show up empty-handed, we stopped by the store and picked up a little food and a couple bottles of vino.  Halfway through preparing our dinner (for the 6 or so that we were expecting), there were nearly 30 people in the house.   Friends and family crowded in to pay their respects to Monica and to bid farewell to Holly.  Gracious, loving (I got a kiss from every female who walked through the door.  Nice.) and a touching scene that became more and more unfamiliar as the night wore on.  We spend so much time in The States complaining about our families and finding ways to avoid them – the crazy aunt, the drunk cousin – that it’s easy to forget to just fucking love each other.  We somehow stretched out the meal for all who were hungry and then moved on to the cake.  Instead of a ritualistic song and a Bronx cheer when the candles went out, the group spent 15 minutes fighting with each other for the chance to say something touching about Monica before we cut the cake.  I almost cried and I didn’t understand a goddamn word.

 

This morning, I walked down to the corner and bought 4 bananas and 2 croissants for 50 cents and we were on the bus heading South.  Holly has been in Quito for 6 months and was jumping to hit the road, but I found a love for the place and the people that I would never have expected to feel 48 hours before.

2 Responses to “Quito”

  1. Carla says:

    Hey! Loved reading your post on Quito…..isn't the love, warmth, happiness and hospitality of the Hispanic people amazing and wonderful? I never felt so much love and happiness from a people as when I was in Mexico. They literally might have nothing except their clothes, and will give you the shirt off of their back…and walk away with a smile on their face. Just goes to show, money cannot buy happiness–and should not.

    I am so pleased that you get to be in a wonderful culture that will bring you the most soul-nourishing healing you can find……

    Oh, btw, on Dr. Oz the other day there was this mosquito dude on the show who said, LEMON Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus citriodora, is as effective as DEET in keeping the mosquitoes from biting (they even proved it in their nasty mosquito tank). So, if you want a non-toxic option…you can get it online, but maybe you can find some down there.

    Branwen

  2. Osh-Blog says:

    Casey, great to hear your musings along "the path". No matter where it takes you, amazing experiences await. Soak it up. Patrick

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