Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back in the Andes

Quito: I've been here nine days and don't think too much of it.  To be fair, I've been working tons and planning out/writing drafts of my first week of posts for my new blog, and haven't had much time or inclination to explore Quito given how on my first day I went to a public park and in broad daylight this sketchy old guy tried to snatch my purse.  And then twenty minutes later a sketchy young guy tried to get me to "donate" money to his "help the disabled children charity."

But there are some pretty aspects of Quito I've seen in my wanderings.  Here are some of them:

Poor Quito.  It just exudes sketchiness, and the people aren't particularly friendly enough to give it any sort of charm.  (I say this, of course, having been completely spoiled by the enormous charm and friendliness of virtually everybody in Colombia.)  But the people are amazing to watch, though.  Little old ladies no higher than four feet high, charging up these mountainous streets with giant bundles on their backs as big as themselves.  Women in shawls and fedoras with tiny peacock feathers in the brims - fedoras seem to be fashionable for women here.  People walking down the street holding a big lump of blankets like a sack of potatoes, at the center of which somewhere there is a baby.

Moreover, I am loving the prices here.  Breakfast every day are two gorgeous fritatas, a fried egg with aji salsa, a cup of juice, and a mug of coffee - this costs $1.25 USD, and it is filling and delicious.  You can buy single eggs from vendors from 10 cents, and then a bag of vegetables for guacamole for 50 cents.  I am pretty much living like a king here... a lonely, transcribing king who rents a tiny room and eats a lot of fried eggs and guacamole.

Furthermore, 25 cents got me a ticket for the MetroBus, with which I made a lengthy sojourn to the Mitad del Mundo, a very charming tourist trap located an hour out of the city at 0' 0" 0".  Here is the required picture of me with one foot in the Northern hemisphere and one foot in the Southern:

After that I bought a doll from one of the eighty identical artisan shops, checked out creepy bugs at the insectarium, (Hercules beetles and tarantulas!) and then headed back to Quito to catch a Cuban film festival.  The movie I watched was called Lucía, by Humberto Solás, a very arty film full of intense black and white close-ups and sweaty people having passionate nervous breakdowns.  It followed the lives of three women named Lucía through three ages of Cuban revolutions, and I would have found all 159 minutes of it less exhausting if I'd been able to understand anything anyone was saying.  Either my Spanish is worse than I thought, or Cubans just speak incredibly fast.

Otherwise, I actually found the movie on YouTube if anyone's curious:

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