A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday Service

The Catholic Church.. but not as you know it.

sunny 19 °C
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Religion in Ecuador is really quite something.

I got up this morning with the intention of going to the National Museum of Ecuador but by the time I made it there it had closed for the day. For want of anything better to do, I decided to follow a crowd of Quiteños who had gathered nearby.

After about 10 minutes, we reached the city´s historic centre, home to some of the country´s oldest and most famous churches. Shortly afterwards, we reached ´La Iglesia de San Francisco´(an incredibly ornate building reportedly gilded with 8 tonnes of Conquistador gold) and just in time for the beginning of Mass.

The next 20 minutes or so (I´m no saint, that was about as much as I could take..) rank among the most surreal in my life. The priests conducting the service switched, seemingly at random, between Spanish, Latin and a weird religious trip-hop (think Christian Rock, but with a phatter bassline, or perhaps Massive Attack but with more references to divine providence). After what seemed like an eternity, I got up and left.. with all the subtlety of a giraffe in dark glasses trying to sneak into a polar bears-only golf club (to quote Blackadder).

As I wandered around the winding streets of the Old Town afterwards, I began to realise why the Church had resorted to the gratuitous use of riddim(z). All around me were dancers, jugglers and other assorted street-performers, many of whom were drawing crowds at least as big as the congregation in the church I had just left. Clearly the Church had felt the need to up the ante in order to keep the faithful, well, faithful.

Good shout, I say. Let me know when they let Dizzee Rascal play Chelmsford Cathedral.

Pranav

Posted by scholars08 18:26 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Otavalo

The biggest indigenous market in Latin America..?

sunny 23 °C
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I spent the whole of Friday attempting to learn Spanish.

Or rather, I should say, I spent the whole day bumbling my way through the present tense, days of the week, and, the coup de grace, the contents of my pencil case. All of this in a manner strangely reminiscent of lower school French (aside from the regrettable absence of Frau Di Francia). After the strain of these exertions, I decided to head out of Quito on Saturday, accompanied by Nicolas, a Swiss Colombian, and Mielte, a German (don´t ask..).

After a hair-raising bus journey, the highlights of which were the driver´s singular refusal to actually watch the road and a sequence of literally breath-taking overtaking maneouvers, we ended up in Otavalo, reputedly home to the biggest indigenous market in South America.

True to form, the market was indeed chuffing massive and choc-a-bloc with stallholders selling everything from livestock to alpaca woollens. As Nicolas and I were walking around with a 6ft plus gringo (bear in mind, the average height among the Quichua-speaking natives is about 5ft..), we were subjected to the full range of the vendors´banter. This stretched from the conventional ´Hola Amigo´, to the somewhat more forceful ´¿Eh tu hijo de puta, que tal?´ (which roughly translates as 'what's up you son of a bitch?') and was quite an experience!

Thankfully, the journey back was a little less perilous and our bus even had a DVD player in it (yet the 3 hour journey still cost less than $2.. suck on that National Express)!

Posted by scholars08 18:04 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Hola Amigos

all seasons in one day 22 °C
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I finally arrived in Ecuador after a long, but surprisingly stress-free journey, feeling a little light-headed (the city is located at an altitude of about 3000m) but otherwise no worse for wear.

To my surprise - and delight - there was a grizzled old Quiteño waiting in the arrivals area holding a placard with something vaguely similar to my name on it (at least I hope I was the intended target of a sign with ´Señor Parlav Soo´ written on it - if not, my sincerest apologies to you Mr. Soo for so shamelessly jacking your ride..). We hopped into a car and he took me to my Spanish School. From there, once I´d overcome a couple of small obstacles (namely my complete lack of español and the fact that I had no idea where I was), I stumbled into the home of the Perreira family, with whom the School´s Director had arranged for me to stay.

The Perreira family - consisting of Yada & Alfonso, Paul, 17, Carlos, 12, Dorian, 5, and Francesca, 1 - seem very friendly and I´m looking forward to staying with them over the next few weeks.

My only small complaint is about the weather here - in the mornings and early afternoons, it´s about 22 degrees and sunny, but then, with an inevitability that I´ve already grown weary of, the heavens open and it absolutely pisses it down. I took the liberty of mentioning this to my teacher, whose response was something along the lines of "You bloody Ingleses, always talking about the weather". I guess some things never change!

Pranav

Posted by scholars08 18:41 Archived in Ecuador Tagged lodging Comments (0)

South America!

A quick overview

sunny 18 °C

Hello everyone and welcome to the blog!

Before Jess and I start blogging away, I thought it might be quite useful to give you all a brief outline of where we'll be going over the next few months:

Starting on the 24th of April, I'm flying into Ecuador and will be spending a few weeks in and around the capital, Quito, learning Spanish and staying with a random Ecuadorian family.

Once I'm finished there, I'll fly down to meet Jess in Lima and we'll head off together to Cusco, where we'll be celebrating my 18th and I'll be doing the Inca Trail. From Cusco, we're going to travel overland all the way around to Rio - via Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and the Iguacu Falls - which should take us around 2 months.

For those of you who are interested, I've attached a little map of our trip; apparently the total distance we'll be covering is almost 10,000km - it looks pretty epic!

Anyway, we'll do our best to keep this updated while we're away and we hope you enjoy reading about our travels!

Pranav

Posted by scholars08 09:24 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged preparation Comments (1)

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