Sin Bici No Hay Paraiso

Priyanka Rao - Ecuador

October 1, 2011

Just coming back from Cumbaya, the cutest town in Ecuador, and suffering from the paradise syndrome.  A stucco church with bell tower edges a hedge-rowed garden park complete with a trickling fountain in the center.  Boutiques surround the square across a cobblestone road that leads past the mission-style Educativo where the uniformed school-children are getting out.  Down the street the mountains span the view, descending into green hills and valleys, from where the fresh breeze drags the mellow sunlight to play with the palm trees and our hair.  There is everything from local bakery to a Sushi bar, and I’m glad I have no money, because I would hate to know the prices.

Down a 17-km bike trail lined with flowering foliage, the spike-gated mansions turn into one-roomed tin and wood structures where children and chickens run around.  It is not bereft of the layered shawls and hats of indigenous poverty, but nevertheless it holds that endless weekend feeling that can be found at Parque Carolina on a Sunday morning.

El parque Carolina is a giant green park in the center of Quito filled with all the entertainment of a mini-paradise on Sundays.  Couples cuddle as children beg for a paddle-boat ride in the winding lagoon, and avid bikers dash around a hilly dirt course.  Artisan venders and entertainers tarry along the tree-lined street beside the famous “Jardin Botanico” of Quito, housing a fraction of the bursting biodiversity of Ecuador.  Families laugh and play catch with new puppy they picked up at the dog adoption fair going on next to the promotional heavy-metal concert going on under the grove of Eucalyptus.

This population is not necessarily rich simplicity is key to their biggest joys.  As a bit of street art claims, “Sin bici no hay paraiso” ~Without a bicycle, there is no paradise.

Priyanka Rao