We had an open-armed welcome to Quito by our AirBnB host Fernando. Even when, upon our arrival, we kicked him out of his bed in the middle of the night (due to a date mix-up) it was all hugs and kisses and “bienvenido”. Equally welcoming was the view of epic proportions from the apartment terrace. The historic city twinkled by night, stretching way up into the clouds. And by 6am the skyline began bleeding colours from pink to blue like a dripping watercolour. Unreal.
Fernando told us that he had a hand in the construction of the loft we were staying in (and he lived in). It was a really unusual, modern building embedded in the traditional San Juan neighbourhood, just on the edge of the historic centre. The streets were eerily quiet at night, away from the well-worn tourist paths.
After spending a couple of days seeing the architectural highlights of Quito and adjusting to the 2800m (9,200ft) altitude *gasp* it was time to get to know the city by moonlight. Our host led the way.
We started off at an experimental theatre production directed by one of Fernando’s friends, Gabriela Ponce. The play was an adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s book of stories Putas Asesinas staged in an abandoned house. With warm drinks in hand we watched the actors dance and contort down dusty hallways decorated in a macabre doll-house style. The experience was made all the more intense by endless dramatic, Spanish dialogue, none of which we could understand.
After the theatrical start, the rest of the night began blurring together: live projections of insects being painted at a party in a shoe store; stories of wild ayahuasca trips in the jungle that turned people into jaguars; more hugs and kisses and thumping latin beats. We met some wonderful people, Carlos, a neighbour who is an architect working for the art centre across the road, Sofie, an interior designer who split her time between Poland and Ecuador. Around midnight we ended up at a party in an architecturally notable office building (too many beers have erased the details). It was packed with Quito’s beautiful people gently pushing their way to the dance floor. We did like the locals, trying to catch a glimpse of a scruffy DJ jumping off the atrium under a giant robot projection.
Eventually the night grew a little colder, the ubiquitous Quito fog/clouds thicker and we decided to make our exit. But after squeezing our way to the doors we were told the night was not over. There was no leaving because the cops waited outside to shut the party down. (What?! As uninvited guests, they couldn’t enter, I guess?)
So we partied on, a bit more zombie-like, until the gates parted. We were finally heading to bed, but not before plotting the next morning’s adventure—an ‘artisanal’ brunch at Warmi, a spot our new friends pointed out along the way. To be continued…
Images 7-9 courtesy of Mitomana/Mateo Ponce.