¡Fui a un Espectáculo de Flamenco!/ I went to a Flamenco Show!

Castellano:

España es un país que gracias a Dios tiene una gran cultura que difunde mundialmente. Como mencioné en el último blog hay muchas regiones dentro de tan pequeño país y cada región con su propia cultura. Cultura que proviene desde tiempos en los que éstas regiones eran sus propios reinos con costumbres únicas, que luego fueron tejidas bajo una sola bandera española. Hoy en día, esta unidad de culturas se refleja en cuanto a la cuestión del baile, porque cuando cualquiera piensa en baile típico de España hay solo una palabra que domina: Flamenco. 

El Flamenco es un baile que proviene de la región de Andalucía que queda en el sur del país, pegando con el Estrecho de Gibraltar y África. Es una de las regiones más ricas en cuestión de cultura Española. Andalucía fue la última región española que fue reconquistada por los reyes Católicos. Por eso gran parte de la historia de esta región fue teñida con rasgos árabes más que otras partes del país. Esa gran influencia en esta región tanto de lo árabes, romanos y posteriormente del reino español, causaron que hubiese convergencia de culturas y que de ellas florecieran muy bellas tradiciones y expresiones del arte. 

Para todo aquel que sabe de Flamenco, sabe que es un arte que trasciende mucho más que el baile y la música, en verdad es todo un espectáculo. El flamenco esta compuesto de varias partes, incluyendo: canto, toque de guitarra, baile, jaleo (vocalizaciones), palmas y pitos (no lo que piensan mis paisanos, sino tronar los dedos). Yo la verdad no estaba enterado que todo movimiento desde los aplausos hasta el trueno de dedos era parte integral del Flamenco. Eso lo aprendí hace unas cuantas semanas cuando fui a un espectáculo de Flamenco junto con mi programa. Fue una experiencia súper chida que de seguro no hubiese tenido sino fuera por el programa. Sí valió la pena haberme perdido en el metro de Madrid intentando buscar el teatro.

English:

Spain is a country that, by God’s glory, has a vast culture that it diffuses worldwide. As I said in my previous post there are so many different regions in such a small country, each with its own culture. Culture that derives from times when these individual regions were their own kingdoms with their unique customs, that were later all sewn together under a single Spanish flag. Today this unification of cultures is reflected in terms of dance, because when one thinks of a typical Spanish dance only one word dominates the conversation: Flamenco.

Flamenco is a dance that comes from the region of Andalusia which lies in the south of the country next to the Strait of Gibraltar and Africa. In terms of culture it is one of Spain’s richest regions. Andalusia was the last Spanish region reconquered by the Catholic kings. For this reason a great part of the history of this region is splattered with Arab similarity, more than other regions of the country. This great Arab influence as well as the Roman’s footprint and later the Spanish empire caused a grand convergence of cultures from which erupted different traditions and artistic expressions.

If you ask anyone that knows about Flamenco, they will tell you that it is an art form that transcends much more than dance and music, it is a real show. Flamenco is composed of several parts, including: song, guitar playing, dance, vocals, clapping, and finger snapping. I wasn’t aware that every component from the clapping to the finger snapping was actually integral to Flamenco. I learned all of this a few weeks ago when I went to a Flamenco show through my program. It was a very cool experience that I definitely wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t in the program. It was definitely worth getting lost on the Madrid metro attempting to find the theater.

 

Things to do in and around Quito

¿Cómo están, mis amigos? Are you curious about what to do in Quito? I had no idea that there were so many possiblities for exploration and entertainment in Quito (or on the outskirts of the city). For all of those adventurers out there interested in delving into Ecuador’s beautiful capital city, here is a list of 10 things you can do:

  1. Take the TelefériQo up Pichincha and then go hiking. To do this, you’ll need: a waterproof jacket, layers, good hiking boots, sunscreen, snacks, and plenty of water. Also suggested: sunglasses, gloves, friendly companions, strong lungs, and an early morning visit (to avoid the clouds). Cost to ride the TelefériQo is $7.50 per person (tourist price).

    At the peak of Rucu Pichincha. Photo credit: Aimee Hoffman.
    At the peak of Rucu Pichincha. Photo credit: Aimee Hoffman.
  2. Visit El Centro Histórico. This is basically the old Quito, so it’s full of Spanish architecture, big churches, museums, parks, restaurants, and so much more! This is definitely a good place to visit if you like to roam around old places. Still, most of this part of town has been updated, so you’ll see a lot of modern things mixed in with the old. You can also visit El Panecillo, a hill with a giant statue of La Virgen del Panecillo.

    The Virgen del Panecillo seen from the Historic Center of Quito.
    Walking through El Centro Histórico and seeing La Virgen del Panecillo.
  3. Go to a museum. To really learn about the history of Quito or Ecuador, you must visit a museum to experience the past. Two of my favorite museums in Quito (also located in El Centro Histórico) are Museo de la Ciudad and Museo El Alabado. The first has detailed exhibits of the effects of the Spanish Conquista and the second is full of Pre-Incan and Post-Incan art. Plus, they are only a few blocks away from each other!

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    Ceramic artwork displaying the clothing of a shaman found at Museo El Alabado.
  4. Eat good food. It’s Ecuador, so the food here is delicious anyway. But since this is Quito, the capital, there are a variety of tasty restaurants from all over. If you want to try some Cuban, Spanish, Chinese, Mexican, or any other country’s food, you’ll likely find a restaurant for it in Quito. The restaurants are located all throughout the city. There is also street food (not recommended for travelers) sold all over Quito. Plus, if you’re craving good ol’ American food, there are tons of American chains here including Subway, Domino’s, Burger King, McDonald’s, and KFC (although their menus have some Ecuadorian twists to them!).
  5. Watch a play. There are always shows at La Casa de la Cultura and El Patio de las Comedias. I’m not much of a theater-geek, but I did enjoy watching a play with one of my friends at El Patio de las Comedias. It turned out to be a very popular show since it was a comedy about Cupid’s love life! My only recommendation is to buy a ticket in advance (online) or show up early to buy one (I almost didn’t get a seat).
  6. Visit a park. There are tons of parks to visit in Quito. So far I’ve only visited one, Parque La Carolina, since it’s large and close to my school. At La Carolina, there are lots of trees, places to play different sports, a skate park, and a playground. There are also free Zumba classes at La Carolina on Sunday mornings. Safety tip: never visit parks alone or after it gets dark.

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    The botanical gardens in Quito are also found in La Carolina!
  7. Take a peek inside the churches. There are many churches in Quito since the city has a strong Catholic background. But I think the most beautiful churches are located in El Centro Histórico. Two churches that are a must-see are the Basílica del Voto Nacional which has so much beauty inside and out (and it’s HUGE), and the other is La Compañia de Jesús which is adorned with gold inside.

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    The entire church was impossible for me to capture with my camera! This is La Basílica.
  8. Go to a fútbol game. This is still on my to-do list. A really popular place to watch professional soccer games is at El Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa located in the northern part of Quito. When I get the chance to attend a game, I’ll, of course, have to buy an Ecuadorian t-shirt to support my host country’s team!
  9. Attend a concert. It doesn’t have to be a big concert; Quito has tons of mini-concerts every week. Some places have jazz, rock, and Latin music. Most of the mini-concerts are found within local pubs or breweries. But, Quito also has big concerts! On March 3rd, I’ll be attending an Enrique Iglesias concert at El Coliseo General Rumiñahui! I’m so excited (I’ll mention it in a future blog, I’m sure)!
  10. Learn to dance. Or if you already know how to dance, then just find an awesome discoteca to go dancing. Like I mentioned before, there are free Zumba classes in the park. There are also a few places I’ve seen where they teach belly dancing! I haven’t personally tried those classes, but what I have done is learn to dance from a native. To do this, go to any club that plays Latin music (my favorite), start dancing with friends, and, sure enough, a native will want to dance with you!

So there’s a short list of a variety of activities to partake in when you visit Quito, and I hope you do! Till my next blog, ¡ciao, amigos!