A week before Easter Sunday, the Catholic Community in Quito celebrates Palm Sunday by congregating in the Plaza San Francisco. They set up a huge stage where the festivities begin at 11am. A procession appeared from no where and pushed through the gathering crowd. We were fortunate to be on the side of the plaza where the procession arrived and I hurriedly snapped photos of the Virgin Mary, of Joseph leading an adult Jesus on a donkey, and of everyday Quiteños carrying branches of rosemary and native grasses in bouquets meant to replace traditional palm branches, now an endangered species.
The plaza was awash with people. The sun was shining brightly and many plaid umbrellas protected people from the harsh rays. In fact, I think the umbrella man made a healthy profit on this beautiful sunny day.
Ecuadorians divide their country into three distinct regions – el Oriente (the East or the jungle), la Costa (the coast), and la Sierra (the mountains). Each area is not only geographically distinct but culturally as well. In our short time here, we’ve immersed ourselves in the culture where we live, la Sierra. We know the empanadas, the ají, the love of tomate de arbol, the occasional use of the word vos in place of tú, the smooth and easy to understand Spanish accent, the four seasons in a single day, and so much more. We decided that it was time to get our feet wet in a different part of Ecuador so we headed to el Oriente for a couple of days.
Our destination of choice ended up being a mixed bag. If you’d like to read my TripAdvisor review of the lodge we chose, feel free! But, as I write about our trip, you’ll see the problems were not just about a simple lodge but more about the type of tourism being practiced in this corner of Ecuador. Continue reading