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Entries about easter celebrations

Easter Sunday in Quito

Quito


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Emma, Mark and I had to head off to the airport at lunchtime today, I back to Guayaquil and Emma & Mark back to London via Amsterdam, so we decided to just wander around Quito Old Town in the morning and see whether there was anything particularly Easter-related going on.

After having breakfast and opening Easter things from home, we hopped on the Trolebus and got off at Plaza Grande, before heading to the Cathedral. Before going in Emma, Kate and I chose a candle (blue because it was Dad's favourite colour), I bought it and we then lit it inside for him.

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While we were inside an Easter service started, somewhat startlingly with the first couple of lines of the tune to 'Joy to the World' - perhaps in Ecuador it's the tune to an Easter hymn? A little later on the cantor and congregation sang a hymn that we all recognised, despite it being in Latin American Spanish: 'When All the Saints Come Marching In'. It felt a little odd hearing a normally familiar hymn in a foreign language! Shortly before we left they started singing another hymn that was clearly Eastery because it mainly consisted of alleluias, though going by the tune and the proportion of alleluias to other words it wasn't 'Jesus Christ is Risen Today'.

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On the pavement on the road to one side of the cathedral there were some artists working on paintings (in oils I think) with completed works for sale. It was interesting seeing them at work. Emma and I both bought a small painting from one of the artists. We then wandered up to Plaza San Francisco to see whether anything much was going on there. There wasn't really, but we did stop at Tianguez café and some of us had drinks. Kate and I had big glasses of thick, delicious, freshly squeezed guanabana juice.

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After this we wandered round a bit more.

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We went into a centre with a museum in it and, I think, the Ecuadorean national archives, but all we could find was a gift shop and a smallish gallery of religious art, so we didn't stay long. Then we made our way to the right Trolebus stop to get back to the hostel; as we passed through Plaza Grande we stopped to watch some traditional dances that were being performed.

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After getting off the Trolebus at the other end, we nipped into a branch of 'Oki Doki' convenience store for me, Emma and Mark to stock up on snacks for our flights. Then a quick stop back at the hostel to finish packing, check emails and have a lovely unexpected Google Hangouts video chat with Mum, before Emma, Mark and I left for the airport. It was sad saying goodbye both at the hostel and the airport. Their flight left before mine did. Kate and Andrew were staying in Quito for the night and flying back to the UK the next day.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:57 Archived in Ecuador Tagged art airport cathedral sisters dad mum quito andes ecuador explorations unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine plaza_grande plaza_san_francisco traditional_customs easter_celebrations Comments (0)

Easter Saturday at the Equator: Cayambe and Quitsato Sundial

Cayambe, Quitsato Sundial, the Line of the Equator and Quito


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We were only in Cayambe for about twenty minutes because we were there to get a taxi to our next destination. We did however make sure to buy some 'biscochos', the town's speciality. These are very buttery biscuits sold in fingers. Then on to the line of the Equator! The Quitsato Sundial is at the roadside about 3km south of Cayambe, on the road to Quito. This place is very untouristy in comparison to the much more famous Mitad Del Mundo complex, which is a tourist trap and peddles several equator myths as if they are facts. The Quitsato Sundial is much more scientific.

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The sundial is huge; big enough to walk around on. I would guess the diameter to be about 50 metres. We had a talk (in English) about the site and about the work of the Quitsato Project. We found out such interesting information as the fact that from the Equator you can see all the constellations visible in both hemispheres, that many pre-Inca sites have been discovered in the area that align exactly with the position of the sun at various equinoxes etc., that the Equator runs right through Volcano Cayambe (a snow-covered peak that we could see from where we were standing), and that the word 'north' means 'left' and is so called because it is on your left as you face east, the direction of the rising sun.

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After the talk we couldn't resist taking photos of us standing with a foot in each hemisphere, standing on the exact Equator, etc., some including a post at the centre of the sundial that announces that it is at 0 degrees latitude.

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To get back to Quito we flagged down a passing bus and jumped on. It was around 7:30 by the time we got back to the hostel.

For dinner Emma, Mark, Andrew and I went to a Cuban restaurant round the corner, but it wasn't a great experience because the service was so incredibly slow, despite the fact that there was only one other group of customers there. I've been in Ecuador for nearly a year now and have never experienced service that slow before. My rice pudding was lovely but the portion was very small.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:18 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains hostel sisters quito andes ecuador cayambe ecuadorian_cuisine quitsato_sundial the_equator easter_celebrations Comments (0)

Good Friday Processions, Quito

José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (Guayaquil) and Quito


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While I was working in Guayaquil, Emma, Kate, Mark and Andrew left Cuenca for Baños on Tuesday, spent a full day there and got a bus to Quito yesterday. I spent last night at José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil because my flight to Quito was at 6 am and I thought it would be much easier just to get a taxi from work when it closed on Thursday night than it would be to try and find a safe taxi at 3 am on Friday morning from Alborada.

The flight was uneventful but I did get some good photos of the mountains and a snowcapped volcano near Quito - probably Cotopaxi Volcano.

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The hour-long taxi journey from the new airport to the hostel was also uneventful. I was joining the others at the same hostel where Mum and I stayed in February; I arrived at about 08.30.

The main aim of the day was to go into Quito Old Town to view the world-famous Good Friday procession, which we thought started at midday. We got the Trolebus and duly arrived at Plaza San Francisco, where the procession would begin, nice and early at around 9:30. There were more people than normal around even at that point, including lots of police, and there was a Catholic radio station playing on loudspeakers.

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We were wondering where to stand to get the best view, then noticed that on the raised ground along one side of the square, directly in front of San Francisco church and monastery, people were sitting on the wall with their backs to the main square. This made us think that the procession would probably go along there, so we made a beeline up the steps and found a good position next to the wall. It was wonderfully sunny at that point and there was a really good atmosphere, full of anticipation and preparation.

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From our raised position we had a good view over the square, and on and to the side of the raised area we could see preparations apace; some big wooden crosses propped up in a couple of places, men holding brass band instruments and penitents wearing their costumes of mainly purple robes and purple pointy masks.

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At around 10:30 am we, and everyone else on the raised area, started to be moved by police, which disappointed us because we wouldn't get as good a view from the ground. I think it was because part of the procession was going to emerge from the front of the church. Anyway, we descended into the main part of the square and found a position by a road on the opposite of the square, where lots of people seemed to be congregating. Then we started to see bits of a procession going along one of the other sides of the square, and realised that the procession had started an hour earlier than expected and wasn't going along our road after all!

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The crowd was thick by the edge of the relevant road, but some of us managed to squeeze through to the front (or near the front) and get a few photos. The procession mainly seemed to consist of the penitents (some of whom held crucifixes, pictures of Jesus or Mary etc.), men dressed up as Jesus carrying along the big wooden crosses I'd spotted earlier, and brass band musicians playing a couple of tunes I didn't recognise.

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Kate says that at one point and a couple of times later in the day she saw a couple of the penitents flagellate with ropes tied round their waists, though only lightly by the looks of it so it wasn't harsh to watch; I saw chains dragging from some of the penitents' ankles.

The day then went downhill for a bit because Mark had his wallet stolen. He'd had it in his pocket rather than in a bag. The police didn't speak English but he managed to find a tourist security place nearby so went there. Meanwhile Kate and I found Emma and, when walking along, found Mark at the security place. Kate and I didn't know where Andrew was in the crowds but Emma said that he'd said to meet up at the Trolebus stop if we got split up. With that in mind, Kate and I then took Emma to an internet cafe with phone booths to cancel the stolen cards while Mark stayed at the security place to sort stuff out there. The procession had reached where we were so the crowds were quite hard to fight through...

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...but luckily we found the internet café not far away. I hung around outside Emma's phone booth while she made calls and meanwhile Kate fought her way through the crowds to the Trolebus stop to see whether Andrew was there, but he wasn't so she came back again. Once all the cards were cancelled we went back to the bus stop and waited for quite a while to see if Andrew would turn up, but he didn't so in the end Kate got the bus back to the hostel to check whether he'd gone back there. Luckily she found him nearby the hostel so they came back into Quito Old Town and met up with us there.

Things then improved further, because while Kate was gone Emma and I had lunch, a special Ecuadorean Holy Week soup called 'fanesca'. Once Kate and Andrew got back they had some too but at a a different place. It was lovely - among other things it contained twelve different grains/pulses to symbolise the twelve apostles, half a boiled egg, dried cod, some little hard-baked bread things, a miniature empanada, milk, plantain and vegetable stock. Emma and I didn't get any accompaniments with ours, but the others did; plates of molo mash (potato mixed with milk, cream and possibly garlic and onions, served on lettuce leaves and with half a boiled egg and some spring onion sliced lengthways on top), and a dulce de higo each (a whole fresh fig cooked until lightly candied in a spiced brown cane sugar syrup and served with the syrup and a slice of queso fresco (white softish cheese). Figs are a traditional Lenten food and eggs, fish and cheese are fasting foods, so it was all appropriate for eating on Good Friday.

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After lunch, after walking up a street through which a shrine was moving with lots of people walking alongside or watching from the roadsides...

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...we all went back to Plaza San Francisco to visit Tianguez, an amazing handicrafts shop that I visited with Mum in February. The shop extends into catacombs under the monastery and contains all sorts of handicrafts, pottery, woven items, etc., as well as Ecuadorean coffee and other things. Some of the catacomb passages have interesting information about the traditions and meanings of the items made by particular tribes.

Following this we were all tired so we walked to Plaza Santo Domingo to get the Trolebus back to the hostel.While walking through Plaza San Francisco Kate pointed out that the shrine had ended up in the open doorway of the monastery, and various nuns and monks were standing around on the raised area in front.

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In the evening we had dinner at KFC (only the second time I've been there in Ecuador) and checked our emails.

Posted by 3Traveller 08:34 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains airport sisters quito andes ecuador procession unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine plaza_san_francisco fair_trade_shop plaza_santo_domingo traditional_customs easter_celebrations Comments (0)

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