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Scene & Heard: 55 Minutes in Quito’s Centro Historico – Easter Edition

Shelter from the storm II, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015

The first mistake I made on Easter was to buy an umbrella, breaking an old rule: don’t ever buy a cheap umbrella from a vendor who emerges from an alley next to a church as soon the skies open.

But I did. Because the skies opened. Wide. The umbrella barely did. It broke about a half hour and five blocks later before it could ever be folded back together. A short woman wrapped in a bright orange skirt and wearing a midnight blue bowler hat selling avocados laughs out loud when she sees me try and fail to shove the umbrella through a small opening in a trash receptacle.

“Ponchos are only one dollar,” she says, still laughing. I paid three for an umbrella I couldn’t even dispose of properly.

~~

I was expecting a relaxed, jovial holiday vibe when I arrived at the central Plaza Grande in early afternoon. Ecuador’s ninety percent Catholic, devout. I imagined a small choir on the cathedral steps, worshippers lined up for mass, kids in their Sunday finest.

Instead, I was met with an even busier and louder crowd than usual, the sounds of commerce everywhere. Loud Easter-style commerce: hawkers moving toys, lottery tickets, coca tea, umbrellas and chocolates; socks, underwear, small plastic chairs, sticky espumillas and rain ponchos. One woman offered chocolates, another washcloths and a third small portraits of Jesus in wooden technicolor frames. Finally – someone who recognized the reason for the season.

~~

On the way home, I’m stopped in my tracks on Esmeraldas, a block up from the Plaza del Teatro, when a cross-dressing hooker who introduced himself a few weeks ago as Juana yells towards me across the street. The cut-off denim shorts he’s wearing are shorter than usual and impossibly tighter.

“Honey Bob! Honey Bob! Happy Easter my Honey Bob!”

“Happy Easter to you too,” I said. “Where’s your Easter dress?”

He laughed. “I don’t wear dresses on Easter. I’m working!” He smiles again, and walks off.

As he disappears into a doorway, I’m reminded of a line from the Bruce Cockburn song, “Cry of a Tiny Babe”:

For it isn’t to the palace that the Christ child comes
But to shepherds and street people, hookers and bums

Jesus would be proud.

I’m feeling proud, too: transvestite prostitutes recognize me on the street. That’s an Easter Sunday first for me and I decide that my Quito ‘moment’ had finally arrived.

A few blocks up, just beyond the corner of Venezuela and Galapagos, a man stops to pee between two parked cars. Both are facing down the steepest section of Galapagos. The driver is sitting in the first car but waits patiently for the man to finish before driving away.

~~

Below, a smattering of random Easter Sunday scenes snapped with my phone camera. The soundtrack was recorded in an arched walkway at the edge of the Plaza Grande shortly after people scurried there for cover when a brief rain came. Press play on the Soundcloud soundtrack, scroll at your leisure and enjoy.

Shop window display, Quito, Easter 2015
Shop window display, Quito, Easter 2015
Brisk rain poncho and umbrella sales in front of the Iglesia de San Francisco, Quito, Easter 2015
Brisk rain poncho and umbrella sales in front of the Iglesia de San Francisco, Quito, Easter 2015
Shelter from the storm, Iglesia de San Francisco, Quito, Easter 2015
Shelter from the storm, Iglesia de San Francisco, Quito, Easter 2015
Ducking out of the rain, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Ducking out of the rain, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Grilled corn, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Euaster 2015
Grilled corn, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Euaster 2015
Grilled corn and plantain stand, Calle Cuence, Quito, Easter 2015
Grilled corn and plantain stand, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Wedding shop display, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Wedding shop display, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Shelter from the storm II, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Shelter from the storm II, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Ice cream vendor, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Ice cream vendor, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Flower vendor, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Flower vendor, Calle Cuenca, Quito, Easter 2015
Wasn't there a band called 'The The'? Calle Guayaquil, Quito, Easter 2015
Wasn’t there a band called ‘The The’? Calle Guayaquil, Quito, Easter 2015

And for the record: the lead photo, Shelter From the Storm II, serves as today’s Pic du Jour, the blog’s  454th straight.

 

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  1. AngelineM says

    Well, Honey Bob, great post and the audio made me feel like I was walking along with you. It’s good to know that the USA is not the only place that has lost its feel for the true religious holiday. And I would say without a doubt that you have become an item in Quito.

    1. Bob R says

      It took awhile, but yes, I think you’re right. 🙂

  2. Mama Herself says

    Interesting to see other people’s festivals hit by rain. Oddly I don;t think of that when thinking of Ecuador. Fabulous pictures – always nice to see people as well as places. And the sounds are really fascinating.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, and thanks for stopping by.

      It’s rainy season, with March and April typically the wettest month of the year. I filed that fact away to help plan my next visit here.

  3. SJ says

    You always make me laugh! “Jesus would be proud”, ha – classic.

    1. Bob R says

      Well, it’s true. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Laia | colibrist says

    Great post, loved the short stories… I felt like I was walking in the streets observing people. I had also imagined Ecuador as a more religious and sunny place – always forget about rainy seasons.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, Laia, glad to hear that you enjoyed. And many thank for stopping by!

  5. […] CAFÉ  Scene & Heard: 55 Minutes in Quito’s Centro Historico – Easter Edition – : “I’m feeling proud, too: transvestite prostitutes recognize me on the street. That’s an […]

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