A Personal Journey Combining History, Simplicity, Sanctuary: In Quito, Ecuador, and Casa Gangotena. Part 1

A Personal Journey Combining History, Simplicity, Sanctuary:  In Quito, Ecuador, and Casa Gangotena. Part 1

Casa Gangotena

Our first impressions of Quito had been at night time. We had been going from the airport to the previous city, and all that could possibly be seen had been previous buildings, and winding streets. Then, a lighted constructing, white, almost-church-like, with enormous, hand-carved picket doorways. “We have arrived,” stated the driving force in a grandiose tone, “At Casa Gangotena.”

When we walked in by way of these doorways, we sensed we had been strolling right into a slice of South American historical past we knew little about.  But we discovered in the course of the days forward extra about this historic place excessive within the Andes, 9500 toes above sea stage.


Casa Gangotena-The Palza and Cathedral of St Francis

The sense of antiquity was palpable at Casa Gangotena. Before changing into a luxurious lodge in 2011, the Gangotena household mansion was already recognized, and positioned on an advantageous, distinctive nook, throughout from Quito’s most acknowledged sq. is the 500-plus year-old Plaza de San Francisco, the place the enduring Cathedral of St. Francis stands. The building of the basilica and convent of the Cathedral San Francisco started round 1537, with the completion of a short lived church in 1550. Then, the brand new building of the present cathedral was accomplished round 1680.  The Cathedral and Plaza San Francisco are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. And Casa Gangotena is throughout the road.
Casa Gangotena

The Casa Gangotena is known as the Gangotena Palace by many Quiteños, because the property has existed for hundreds of years, and stays an icon of Spanish structure, with lavish inside décor harking back to Neo-Renaissance palaces in France and Italy. Historic accounts point out within the late seventeenth Century, the Spanish-descending Jijón and Gangotena households owned the mansion with a number of generations, even then, residing within the dwelling – and with the distinct benefit of having the ability to go to the Cathedral simply steps away.

From the years 1880 to 1950, Don Enrique Gangotena y Jijón, one of many household patriarchs owned the mansion, introduced it to heights of luxurious — each with its exterior structure and facades in addition to the spectacular inside décor– French lamps, effective carpets, mirrors and artwork items from Europe and Asia together with work and sculptures of the well-known Quiteño School of Religious Art. 

The affect of the household—and the home– in the course of the early years of the Republic of Ecuador and into the 20th century was appreciable. It turned the epicenter of necessary political encounters, and have become the popular venue of the rising elite society of Quito, particularly in the course of the first half of the 1900’s.
Susan Kime-Casa Gangotena

Casa Gangotena

This historical past is observable all over the place — the work, the embellished ceilings, the coated foyer, and the fountains. And we had been there – on the third ground—within the Terrace Suite. The giant floor-to-ceiling window was open after we arrived, and we noticed in direct view, a hill, and on high a statue – we found later it was the Virgen del Panecillo, Virgin of Quito, or Virgin of The Round Hill, seen from nearly all over the place within the metropolis. Not solely is it the tallest aluminum statue on the earth, it is also the world’s tallest winged illustration of the Virgin Mary.  From our preliminary view at nighttime, there was a luminous blue gentle across the statue, making it look surreal, however within the daytime, the standing was nonetheless lovely, shiny silver aluminum, and never as blue. 

The subsequent AM, at breakfast, we got our first style of Ecuadorian coffee, pumpkin-filled Empanadas, and chocolate – a gustatory expertise! –before we went on our memorable Quiteño actions. 
Susan Kime-Senora Emma Lagla, Herbalist

Our first expertise was inside a small store just a few steps up the road from Casa Gangotena. It was as distant an setting from Casa Gangotena because it may have been, because it was owned and managed by an herbalist –Emma Lagla. She is a petite girl, who had garnered wellness data from her historic ancestry and native tradition, concerning the herbs that helped pains of the abdomen, the pinnacle, eyes, and of the pores and skin. Her enterprise known as Secretos de las Plantas — and round her had been cabinets stuffed with bundles of leaves – contemporary eucalyptus, sage fragrant pine, nettle, with herbs–rosemary, mint, lemongrass, and with flowers – wild and cultivated rose, daisy, lavender, and jasmine— all mixed and tied with twine.  What a buyer was to do with this bundle, she defined, was to go dwelling, boil the flower/leaf/herbs in water, put the boiled essence with the twined herb/leaf/flower mixtures within the bathtub and soak in it. These are known as Energy Baths, and on the wall of this small store is a sign– liberally translated, saying, “Come — we are going to treatment your worry, dangerous air, evil eyes, with power baths to vary your luck.” 
Susan Kime – Senora Lupita Faranango, Hatmaker

Our second exercise was with a hatmaker – the enterprise, Sombrerería Benalcázar – with señora Lupita Farinango instructing us.  We discovered that hat making is an historic custom in Ecuador, dwelling of the world-renowned Panama Hat, which, she stated, is 100% Ecuadorian! These hats had been created as a result of the solar is extraordinarily sturdy, because the altitude of Quito is 9500 toes, and the usage of a hat is important. Her showroom space was fascinating, as we entered a world of hats, some with coloured ribbons, others had been Pith helmets, gaucho hats, American fedoras, cowboy hats, and Panama hats. Ms. Lupita stated, “Panama un estilo, no una ubicación!” Meaning, once more translating liberally, “Panama a method, not a location” Good to know! 
Susan Kime

The third exercise was the expertise of creating Ecuadorian chocolate. It was at Chez Tiff, an artisanal Beans to Bar chocolate firm that grinds its personal cacao beans from pods hand- picked within the countryside. The proprietor is Bertrand Indemini, from Switzerland. He has been in Ecuador along with his household for 22 years. He speaks Spanish, and French and we guess – although we have no idea, some Swiss German additionally. What we do know is he’s an distinctive chocolatier. He confirmed us the best way to make items of chocolate with ardour fruit fillings. He questioned the validity of white chocolate however stated his firm does make one with barley essence that he stated is kind of good.  We tasted a 100% chocolate bar and located it considerably tart, and crunchy, as a result of floor cacao beans within the bar. But we did take a look at their chocolate assortment and acquired some uncommon ones: Mandarin, Inca Peanut, Amaranth, Ginger, and Macambo. 
Susan Kime

We assumed we might be completed with our Ecuadorian chocolate training, however we had been incorrect, because the Casa Gangotena had a brand new chocolate exercise prepared for us. This included the making of scorching chocolate with an training of the weather present in chocolate pots, after which floor by a star formed pestle by hand, very like, it was stated, that the resident Gangotena Mixologist’s abuela (grandmother) used. 
Susan Kime

We discovered the best way to do scorching chocolate in that method, with cinnamon, some anise, slightly pepper, and lots of chocolate. We tasted 4 varieties, one slightly extra intense than the opposite from 58% to 100% chocolate. Each was extra intense than the opposite, however once more, the 100% bar was the tartest and crunchiest.  We had been informed that the 100% bars had been offered to primarily to athletes and those that educated at excessive altitudes, to maintain their energy and oxygen ranges maintained. 
Susan Kime – Virgin Mary of Quito.


Our time at Casa Gangotena was restricted, but from this historic website, and with our travels close to the lodge, we discovered a lot concerning the cultural id of this high-altitude capital. Because the Virgin Mary with wings seemed over the town, and since the inhabitants is 80% Catholic, there’s a palpable sense of sanctity and sanctuary within the Quito we noticed, and at Casa Gangotena. No one speaks loudly, there’s an indoor tranquility, and out of doors, in all probability as a result of the Cathedral, with Franciscan Friars throughout the road, there was an out of doors tranquility as effectively. 

Traveling right here allowed us to assume we had been a singular a part of previous and new: historic traditions and new studying, altering each day, but, one way or the other, remaining profoundly acquainted. What we re-learned was what we knew already however had forgotten: there’s sanctity in easy issues: in bundling herbs, in weaving hats, in grinding chocolate.  It was a visceral pleasure to be right here, and we left with cognitive hope of ultimately returning.





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