El Centro Historico

Trip Start Feb 20, 2008
Trip End Aug 20, 2008

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

After intense Spanish classes today, Rob and I decided to make another trip down to the old town, especially since it's Sunday, so most roads there would be closed to cars.

We had fun wandering around a little and stumbled upon a seemingly simple facade of something called 'Theatro Bolivar', or 'Bolivar Theatre'. We stepped in and were soon met by a young man called William. He the took us on a free guided tour of the place.

Clearly, there was still some glamour in the old dame. The 2,400-seater hall was old and worn, but still retained its air of nobility and grandeur, evident from the soaring ceiling and plush seats. We were then told about the horrific fire of 1999 when a gas leak in the adjacent pizza hut caused the entire mezzanine area and balcony to burn down. In just 2 hours, 1,200 seats were gone and the theatre suffered damage that we still saw today.

William showed us many things salvaged from the fire, including giant old 35mm film projectors, old film reels, the film register which chronicled the types of movies shown there. We discovered that, after its heyday of lyrical operas and artistic showcases, the theatre was reduced to being a porno cinema. One could only guess, from the film regiser, what "Annabelle Part 6" was about.

I feel very much drawn to the cinema, and Rob was quick to tell me that the Orpheum in Los Angeles is older than this and even much more beautiful because its all intact. The thing is, I think I love it for its imperfections, for its battle scars and tragic tale. It's the same way why I love Cathedrale Saint Eustache so much more than the Notre-dame de Paris or the Grand Cathedrale in Amiens. It's that pain that it wears, that rich tale to regale.

I was deeply moved by the efforts of the team at Teatro Bolivar and would have loved to volunteer there as a guide or even help to identify some of the film reels. But well, I don't have the luxury of time or much money to spare, so I contributed $5. My small part to try and save this historical part of Quito. If you're visiting Quito, do look out for it in the Old Town, near the Plaza Grande.

After that, we were kinda dismayed to find that most shops were closed/closing because it was Sunday and the sky was dumping buckets on us. Again, for the nth day in a row, I walked about in the rain. No surprise that I'm not feeling any better huh!

So yup, we finally found lunch at the rather pricey Fruteria Monserrate (fruit parlor?) before heading back here to blog while the sky dumps even more buckets. Looks like it's gonna be more bread & pastries for dinner!


Felicia en Quito.
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