Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quito - Old Town Street Vendors and All Those Doll Outfits

Street Scenes in Quito – Ice Cream on the Go, Micro-Candy Shops, Eggs, and All Those Dolls
Street Scenes in Quito Street Scenes in Quito

Street Scenes in Quito Street Scenes in Quito

As we mentioned in a previous post, it seems like you can buy almost anything in Quito old town right on the sidewalk. First, there are what we call the peripatetic vendors. They sell things to eat, lottery tickets, or reading material for example. Women in indigenous garb might have a baby in a sling on their back, holding another child by the hand, and holding a bowl of avocadoes in the other hand - avocadoes for sale. Want some fresh pineapple? Just stay still for a minute or so and someone will surely walk by offering it. Ice cream or something that looks like ice cream? Sure, two women are chatting as they carry mounds of it in Tupperware containers. The cones stuck in the top of the mounds give a clue.

The next type of vendor are the little shops set up in the “unused” spaces on the sidewalk. A small nook where, say, a church façade meets another structure is just the space to set up a micro-candy shop selling just a few types of candy and maybe newspapers. Sometimes it’s an old women dozing in front of a small display of various fruits.

The next level up the shopping chain is the stores in the old town. There are some larger stores, but by far, most store fronts are shoebox-sized shops selling merchandise not much different than the shop on the next street over. In particular, we puzzled over the candy stores that had huge sacks of animal crackers. Who buys those? The egg store, yes, we can understand that, but animal crackers?

But surely, the most puzzling item for sale everywhere - and we mean everywhere - were little “doll” outfits. It’s as if everyone in Quito has dolls that needed to look like kings and queens. It baffled us. We had a hunch and we confirmed with our hotel staff. These are outfits for the baby Jesus that each home or business has in its customized altar. (Approximately 95% of Ecuadorians are Catholics.)The baby is dressed for different occasions and sometimes passed to friends or relatives (god parents) to “watch” for the year. Wow that’s a babysitting chore!

Baby Jesus Altar – La Casona de la RondaBaby Jesus Altar – La Casona de la Ronda

When we were in the Fundación Guayasamín, we accidently stumbled into a tour of Guayasamín’s colonial collection of religious art. It was a tour in Spanish. We smiled and nodded, understanding about half of it. But what we did get out of it is that articulated religious figures were often produced to be able to dress them in different outfits. It is cool and festive when you think about it. The Guayasamín’s collection had a more or less life-sized Mary torso that had quite the range of motion. All the better to slip into something more comfortable.

Women Selling Fruit on the Sidewalk – Quito
Women Selling Fruit on the Sidewalk – QuitoWomen Selling Fruit on the Sidewalk – Quito

Small Shops Selling Crackers, Baby Jesus Outfits, Eggs, Party Supplies – Quito
Small Shops Selling Crackers, Baby Jesus Outfits, Eggs, Party Supplies – QuitoSmall Shops Selling Crackers, Baby Jesus Outfits, Eggs, Party Supplies – Quito

Small Shops Selling Crackers, Baby Jesus Outfits, Eggs, Party Supplies – QuitoSmall Shops Selling Crackers, Baby Jesus Outfits, Eggs, Party Supplies – Quito

Note Dozing Fruit Vendor Over this Dazed Tourist’s Right Shoulder
Note Dozing Fruit Vendor - Quito

Typical Street in Quito Old Town
Typical Street in Quito Old Town

Snacks: Nuts, Plantains, Candy
Snacks: Nuts, Plantains, Candy

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