Published: December 8th 2010December 7th 2010
It has turned out that the biggest celebration of the year in Quito has coincided with our a arrival. The city celebrates its founding from Dec 1-6. There has been live music on the streets and in the parques all over town. On Friday they had two bandstands set up in Parque Grande and it was like the battle of the bands, one group right after the previous. About 8:00 PM there was a fantastic fireworks show that lasted about 15 minutes. Our favorites with the music have been some of the bands we have seen scattered around town, made up of young musicians, playing traditional music with a little modern flavor. One group had 10 members and they all changed instruments after every song. They had lots of percussion and were really good. One of the traditions of the celebration is the Chivas. They are large flatbed trucks with a with a roofed box on top. About 2/3 of the open sided box has seats and there is a platform on the back. On the roof there is a brass band. They just drive around town blowing whistles, waving flags, and partying. Some times they stop, like at the pargue and everyone piles out, the band plays and they draw a crowd and there is dancing in the street. There are seemingly dozens of them all over town. On Saturday there were neighborhood parties all over old town. Sometime they blocked the street off with pickups at each end and played soccer in the street, drank rum or cerveza and later turned up the music and partied with there neighbors well into the night.
We have walked all around old town in the past week enjoying the fresh food mercado central, the unbelievably massive Basillica, started 100 years ago and still not finished, but the by far the most amazing thing has been the La Campania. The church was started in 1605 and finished 160 years later. The inside of the church is all hand carved and covered with a 23 carat gold lamina. It has been said that there is over seven tons of gold in the church walls and domes. It is amazing to be inside something so big and so golden, I felt like I was in another time. The claim that it is the most beautiful church in the Americas will get no argument from me. Our room at the guest house has been perfect. Quiet neighborhood, great views from our windows, and close to everything we are interested in. It has been pretty socked in most of the time, but we had some blue skies Sun. & Mon. Yesterday was in fact quite sunny and we actually got a pretty good look at the volcano to the north of Quito from our room. One of the things that has surprised me about Quito is the fact that people in cars aren't constantly honking at some one, and they will actually let you cross the street without running you down or blasting away on the horn. Most of the honks are warning honks. I was talking to a guy today that had never been any where else in Latin America and he thought I was crazy, he thinks they are out of control here. I told him to stay away from Peru and Panama. Oh yeah I have also been robbed and attacked by a dog. The robber got our spanish/ english dictionary and my favorite pullover and the dog in his attack tried to bite me on the ass but the case for my shades saved me. There are seven punctures in the case from his teeth. Tomorrow we travel to Mindo and the rain forest in search of Pajaros.