Living in Quito

Quito Travel Blog

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It´s been three days since I arrived at Mariana and Fran´s home at a place called, Armenia or ´Puente 3´ just out of Quito city.


The surrounds of the house are typical for South America and are somewhere in between suburbia and rural.  The neighbours keep pigs, goats, cows, sheep, chickens and grow corn.  Today one of the neighbours pigs got the axe.  Pigs make the most awful screams when about to be killed and it reminds me of a Christmas party I once went to in the Wairarapa.  There is also a stupid number of dogs here.  It is unclear whether they have owners or are strays, but they certainly know how to bark up a storm at night.  Together with the roosters and insomnia caused by mild altitude sickness, it doesn’t make much for sleeping in! 


People appear to keep dogs for security, which seems very important here.  Getting the dogs spade or neutered is not so important.  Most houses are surrounded by a 10 ft high brick or iron fence, usually adorned with cemented broken glass along the top to discourage anyone who might be inclined to try and climb over, a cheap and effective method.  But it does rather make everywhere look a bit like a prison.  Inside the houses are nice, outside the world is pretty dirty and there is rubbish everywhere.  I guess there are more important things to worry about, like making a living, than picking up plastic.


Two days ago, whilst in the middle of one of my Spanish classes with Mariana, I looked out the window of the class into the neighbouring paddock.  A young dog was barking its head off and it had caught my attention.  I watched it for awhile and saw that it was trying to get up but couldn’t do so.  It appeared that it was caught in some plastic or something, so I went to investigate, to see if it was all right. On arrival I was disgusted to find that someone had deliberated tied this poor ginger pooch, not unlike Rastus, in a plastic sack.  A hole at been cut in the side of the sack and its head pushed tightly through, so that it could not escape, and the entrance to the sack tied tightly around its neck with wire and bailing twine.  There are many ways to kill a dog, but putting it in an oven bag and leaving it to cook in the sun is not one of them.  After five minutes or so of debating whether or not this dog might be dangerous or have rabies, I could not leave it to die this way.  He seemed to realise we were there to help and had calmed down, was not foaming at the mouth and didn’t snarl when I approached, so I began to untie the sack, and used a pair of scissors to cut the sack away, to allow him to escape.  He´d been there all night and half the day, I expect, as he could not stand straight away.  I went to get him some water and something to eat.  After he had taken some sustenance and after 10 minutes or so, he was off to his freedom.  Life for a dog is pretty tough here too. 


Spanish classes have been going ok.  I comprehend grammar and structure no problem but I become frustrated at how quickly I forget new words and cannot recall them when I want to.  I guess I cant expect too much after only a few days.


I have spent a couple of half days walking around the old city and new city with Fran, Mariana´s husband.  He is a quiet but kind and compassionate man who used to look after street kids here in Quito, organising competitions, theatre, sports and other activities to keep the lost children with nothing, something.  Today he brought a dozen red roses for Mariana for $1.50. 


People here look very different to the people in Colombia and have a distinct native American Indian look about them.  I am sad to leave the Colombian girls behind, as the Ecuadorians I have seen so far do not compare.  


A couple of days ago we walked up to the huge Madonna on the hill in South Quito.  It´s a giant religious edifice, each panel made in Spain and then assembled in Quito.


The Catholic Church has a lot to answer for here. The churches we visited in old Quito are completely guilded in 24 carat gold leaf gold. Enormous and impressive. The people outside the church have nothing but young children to feed.  Abortion is illegal.  Contraception is discouraged.  AIDS is a major problem. There is currently a referendum, 52% of the population is against changing the abortion laws. 48% are for it.  One thing is for sure here and that is to be poor and old or disabled in any way, is truly a curse. 


Gringolandia, as it is referred to by the locals here, in the north of Quito is a different place to old Quito.  It caters for the tourist population and the rich and is relatively upmarket.  The poor live in the south.  There are some beautiful crafts and artworks here.  You can get a flat white coffee if you want it. 

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photo by: Bluetraveler