First week in Quito – first time in Ecuador – first time in South America!
This week had actually a lot of “first times” for me in various aspects and experiences. It was a week full of surprises and contradicting emotion. After a couple of hard initial days of accustoming into a completely new environment I would say I have already acquired some initial impressions of how the city expands, functions and creates the urban space generally. One of the most interesting observations that I came with is the unique way that this city and the man-made environment collaborate with its physical environment that either surrounds it or can be encountered among its fabric.People are in tune with this environment as well.
The first of those physical surroundings that caught my attention was the volcano of Pichincha, the amazing view of which is omnipresent from most parts of the city. It was really impressive for me, to realize the impact it has on the local people and the emotional connection that they have created with it -they will always refer to it with a unique kind of affection: “Mira que linda la Pichincha!”
The way that the people cover in a massive way the public space and especially the parks is something fascinating and according to my opinion of a great importance for people’s social life and the sustainability of the public space itself.
But this devotion I have to say extends to an overall special connection of the Ecuadorian people with public spaces and the physical surroundings, nature in total. The way they become familiar and adore the open and natural space surprised me even more on my first trip in Cochasqui -another of the many volcanoes that dominate on the landscape of the whole province, about 60 km north of the city of Quito- and Tambacundo, a nearby village. There some local “fiestas” were taking place which we encountered with great surprise. People dressed in traditional clothes were dancing while playing guitars or flutes and singing songs about love.
Here, however, we are talking about another kind of love, more earthy, more simple; love given by streets, neighborhoods, the land and the universe, born by relations more intimate and direct, no longer poetic and romantic, as in common songs about love. These people were singing and celebrating about the sun that gives life to everything on earth, something that triggered a unique feeling of happiness and sorrow at the same time; one of my most special moments that I experienced so far…