6 Dec is Foundation Day of Quito. Quitenians celebrate it in various ways.
1)The chiva, an open-top truck/mini-bus. People buy a ticket to get on it and drink and dance. There’s usually a band on top playing tipical Quito music – San Juanita. ST and I went on the free chiva trip organized by our language institute. 🙂 Our chiva was rather modern… instead of having the live band playing Quitenian music, because all of us were English teachers, our chiva had a DJ playing English and Spanish pop, reggaeton, disco music. Basically, you get on a chiva, you get a whistle to blow and make noise as the chiva goes on a tour around town, you dance, and you drink. Our chiva served us free canelazo, which is a warm winter drink. Our canelazo wasn’t very strongly alcoholic, thankfully. 🙂 And it was a very welcome drink in the cold Quito weather. 🙂
2) Parades galore. Enough said.
3) Corrida de Toros aka Bullfight aka Feria de Quito (as named by the sponsors). ST and I got tickets to go experience it for ourselves as the retreat was postponed at the last minute. Quite an experience. The first matador was almost killed by the bull and had to be rescued by the banderilleros. Someone in the audience shouted something that was quite anti-bullfight (like a protestor against cruelty to animals) and the audience arose and rallied for the police to throw him out of the plaza. Because the first matador was injured, the second Ecuadorian matador had to help him out with his bull and ended up doing 3.5 rounds of bullfight that day… I felt sorry for the bulls and the matador. There was also one time where the audience chanted “Indulta! Indulta!” because they felt the bull was a really good bull and deserved to be preserved. (meaning taken out of the ring, life saved and brought away to become a breeding bull.) However, the judges didn’t approve the indulta in the end.
The one thing both ST and I enjoyed was the Rejoneador (the matador on a horse). He was really good. Fast, accurate and it was really beautiful watching the horses dance to the music and taunt the bull.
We left the bullfight ring (Plaza de Toros aka Jesús del Gran Poder, Jesus of Great Power) with mixed feelings. On one hand we were glad to have the opportunity to experience this different part of Spanish culture. We could in a certain way see that it was an art, an agile ability on the part of the matador and rejoneador. We enjoyed it culturally. Yet, it was sad and a rather cruel act. Watching and having the strong, valient bulls being killed, which is really a torture when the matadors don’t do the kill skilfully.