The last several days I’ve experienced the thrill and occasional loneliness of spending time in a new city. With blank days ahead of me and most of the main sights already seen from when I was in Quito at the start of my trip, I found myself having to be a bit creative with my activities, branching outside my faithful Lonely Planet guidebook… And least once going literally off the map. always a good thing to do on any trip.
My first morning I befriended a kind and worried mother who was also a guest at the hostel. We bonded over our discontent with the buildings lighting and general dinge. Her high school aged daughter had spent the last month studying Spanish in the city- this lovely woman desperately needed someone to mom. To be fair, I was a bit shell shocked after going from constant and terrific company to solo, and was gladly accepting of her mom-ing and companionship.
One of her momcomplishments was showing me how to ride the city bus. Prior to riding, the Ecovia (“green way”) conjured images of armed robberies, derailing cars, and sardine packed isles based on what I had read about online. To my pleasant surprise, it arrived more frequently than the subway in Boston, and was no more sketchy or malfunctioning. Granted my commute to work was delayed not once but twice this spring due to a car catching on fire…. So Boston is not much to compare to, really.
To top it all off, a one way fare is a mere 25 cents! I rode the rumbling red busses several times, smiling each time I popped a quarter in and swiftly arrived at the other end of Quito!
Visiting the Museo de Guayasamin was a highlight of my time here. I was instructed by someone at my hostel to skip the big uphill walk and take a cab to the museum. I happily denied his suggestion, thinking offering up a chance for good excercise on a beautiful day was crazy. I took the Ecovia to Bellavista and started straight up into the foothills. It wasn’t until a good half hour into my trek from the bus stop did I decide to consult my map, when I realized my destination was conveniently just outside the boundaries of what was covered. I had no choice but to follow my nose. (For my dad- I was in the nicest neighborhood I have seen in Quito, so I was very safe.. Don’t worry) After consulting about 7 different locals, all who provided opposite suggestions, I proceeded up up up and finally found the museum, which was once Guayasamin’s house.
Guayasamin’s haunting artwork can be found throughout all of Ecuador- cheap prints adorned the walls of every hostel I’ve stayed at and most restaurants I’ve dined in. He undoubtedly holds a proud place in the heart of Euadorians.
The artwork stole the air from my lungs more than once with its raw and primal virtue, its unabashed exposure of injustice, its disturbing ability to depict human suffering. His style is sometimes referred to as indigenous expressionist, exploring the oppression of Latin America’s indigenous people.
He painted many other subjects as well, from his family, to his city. His paintings of Quito capture the landscape and spirit of the place flawlessly.
Near the exit of the museum a quote is inscribed on the wall in life size script.
“Si no tenemos la fuerza de estrechar nuestras manos con las manos de todos, si no tenemos la ternura de tomar en nuestros brazos los niños del mundo, si no tenemos la voluntad de limpiar la tierra de todos los ejércitos, este pequeño planeta será un cuerpo seco y negro, en el espacio negro.”
“If we don’t have the strength to reach our hands out to the hands of everyone, if we don’t have the tenderness to take the children of the world into our arms, if we don’t have the will to clean the world of all armies, this little planet will become a dry and black body in a dark space.”
Beautiful words in addition to beautiful and moving art. I would strongly recommend a visit if you are in Quito. It’s free on Sundays.
Other adventures in the city included wandering bookstores (purchased a spanish copy of 100 years of solitude), enjoying coffee at Kallari cafe in the Mariscal area, and taking a day trip to the towns of Otavalo and Cotacachi.
Quito has been fun, but I’m ready to leave… Sounds just like last time!