Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.


by Kathy 30. May 2011 11:18

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Back to Quito, and Ballet Folclórico

A 5 a.m. wake-up knock. Stumbling to the bathroom, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Not even hesitating as a long dark shape scuttles within inches of my bare toes. I’ve definitely adjusted to life in the jungle, where huge bugs (roaches and spiders included) are just another piece of the grand and complex puzzle of life.

This morning, however, we would be saying goodbye to the Amazon and returning to the city streets of Quito.

As we settled into our departing canoe, the torrential rain was already finding ways to breach the protective covering of our large blue ponchos.

An hour later, we transferred our damp bodies into a motor boat for a two-hour ride back to the city of Coca.

Sebastian, bundled into his life-vest:

Despite the plastic coverings on the boat, I was pelted with a continuous spray of cold water from a side opening. Wet and cold, I slipped on another layer of fleece and managed to reduce the teeth chattering.

Off the boat in Coca, I relished the warmth of some dry clothes and started to feel human again.

We had time for a quick lunch before our flight. The restaurant next to the airport terminal was named “Denny’s”—not the same chain as in the U.S., but a basic copy-cat with its menu and food.

Our last view of the jungle, as we rose above the clouds:

The abundance of public art in Quito was surprising. Our 20-minute taxi ride from the Quito airport to the historic district felt like a figurative sculpture tour.

There were large, blocky “modern art” figures in the middle of a traffic circle (and not a red one in sight):

These whimsical creatures were on a balance beam:

We all thought that this woman recoiling in fear from a cheetah (or perhaps a lioness or jumbo hyena) was pretty creepy.

But there is probably a myth or story behind the imagery--perhaps one in which the animal is about to rescue the woman (my “happy ending” version). . . or eat her (Genevieve and Sebastian’s “adventure story” version) . . . or mate with her (Ben’s “mythological” version).

Another female sculptural figure had a mini dress and a raised leg that would cause Miss Manners to clutch her chest in an attempt to quell unpleasant heart palpitations:

This girl had a small goat painted on her dress.

From a side angle, the goat looked like a separate sculpture, standing beside the girl:

Back in our Quito apartment, we napped and did laundry before heading back out this evening.

Down our street, the four locks on this door evidenced the focus on safety and crime that definitely added an element of stress to our time in Quito--we didn’t let our guard down even for an instant.

Tonight we attended the Ballet Folclórico Nacional Jacchugua, a dance performance that integrates traditional Ecuadorian dances with the creative interpretation of the director, Rafael Camino. The name "Jacchugua" comes from a Quichua word that encompasses the joy of the harvest, and the show is intended to display a "harvest" of Ecuador's multi-layered cultural identity.  It has been ongoing for over 15 years, and now occurs every Wednesday evening at the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana building.

In the lobby, we were greeted by a musician playing traditional music with a flute and drum:

Genevieve and Sebastian, with two of the dancers:

We had made reservations by email several months before our trip. The theater was small—any seat would have been good—but we had a superb view from the front row. When the lights dimmed, there were still rows and rows of empty seats, and an audience of no more than 30 people. Still, the performers poured their heart into the dances.

Ben took this video of one of the dances

Many of the traditional Ecuadorian dances evolved from an integration of native celebrations, which honored the sun god and Mother Earth (Paccha Mama), with the Christian celebrations, which were introduced by the Spanish conquistadors.

During one dance, couples wove ribbons around a central pole to celebrate both the Summer Solstice and the Feast of Saint John.

Another dance from the Andes involved a character named Haya Huma, a devil who symbolized the wisdom and experience of the native people, not the “evil” perceived by the conquistadors.

The men in that dance wore furry pants with rows of bells on their bottoms:

The costumes were created by artisans who included the colors, patterns, and materials used in actual clothing worn in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Some of the ceremonial costumes were quite elaborate:

One dance revolved around the concept of peace and involved a creative use of colorful blankets.

Other dances involved the theme of oppression, with overtones of tremendous sadness, including a very long and slow piece in which Rafael Camino played a central role:

Excellent music throughout the show was provided by four men playing traditional instruments.

During the last performance, audience members were invited to join the dancing. Genevieve was pretty excited:

Sebastian, however, seemed a bit unsure about his dance partner:

At the end, Rafael Camino came on stage and explained more about his personal history, including his perseverance in creating dances that came from his heart despite sometimes-scathing reviews from critics. He also introduced us to his grandchildren who were performers in the show:

We had all enjoyed “Jacchigua”—with its energy, music, costumes, color, and cultural stories. And, most of all, we admired Rafael Camino for his personal strength in remaining true to his creative vision.

After our time immersed in the plants and critters of the Amazon jungle, we felt that the cultural riches presented tonight provided the perfect re-introduction to Quito and the rest of Ecuador.

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Map of Our Journeys

(click the map to enlarge)
Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin