Tony and Franky were downstairs when I woke up. They were sitting with a guy named Gonzalo from Argentina. I assumed he was either from Uruguay or Argentina because of the thermos and gourd filled with mate.
Gonzalo works for the International Protection Department in Ecuador. He started in Argentina but has been here since August. His job is to interview people seeking asylum and decide whether or not they will be granted refugee status.
Tony and Franky also met a photojournalist David who has been living in Quito for 7 years. Tony and him planned to get some footage at Carolina Park and David showed us how to use the bus to get there.
Walking through the park the sound of drums and chants increased. We stumbled into what felt like a never ending parade.
This wasn’t like the parades back in New York where there are clear dividers between those in the parade and the people that come to watch. There was a motion between the people, the dancers, the drummers that felt electric. That monumental trait a parade should have was present. It was overwhelming but not in the way parades in the states may be. The floats weren’t created for businesses and corporations. They were created to show the diversity of the culture and the people of Ecuador.
We returned to the hostel before heading to get some street food with David. While everyone was getting ready, I had a chance to speak to Shireen. Shireen and her husband Kenneth work at the hostel through a workaway program and are originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. Prior to working at El Hostelito, they worked at a farm here in Ecuador. Shireen spoke about how one of Quito’s appealing qualities is it’s creative energy.
I spoke to Renne who had been traveling through South America. Renne and his friend are from Finland and have been traveling with no specific direction in mind. While in Chile they met Smith, from Denver and they came to Ecuador together. When I asked him where he would go next and how long he would stay here in Quito there was a lot of uncertainty. While that uncertainty would leave me a bit uneasy, it’s refreshing to meet people who just take life as it comes.
Renne and his friends joined our group to get some food in La Floresta. We stopped at Los Morochos de La Floresta to get some Morocho and empanadas. For $1.20 you get both the empanada and morocho.
In the past I’ve traveled alone and I always enjoy it because there is something liberating about not being dependent on what other people want to do. If there is something I want to do that day, I just make the decision to do it. Still, this can also be very isolating. Being with my group and then having Renee and his friends join felt a little out of control at first but as the night went on everyone riffed off everyone.
I’ll definitely take with me all of the memories of the things we do, but the biggest takeaway will always be the people we meet and the conversations we share.