My Day as a Pilgrim

by Susanna Starr

It started out with a scant breakfast (have you ever tried a one egg omelet?) and miles of walking around the city streets of Quito in Ecuador wearing wedged sandals instead of sneakers. Wedged sandals are not the shoes of choice when traveling. My feet, already aching, were really in a state of extreme protest, a not too subtle indication of the agony to come. We were on our way to visit the art exhibit we’d been anticipating all day, but hadn’t quite left any time out for either lunch or water.

The Guayasamin Museum was our destination and surpassed all our expectations. The paintings and sculpture were impressive and the house in which they were displayed, splendidly representative of the Ecuadorian painter’s era (1919-1999). The original house had an extensive collection of pre-Columbian art he had acquired over decades. The only downside was that there was no place to eat! Our dilemma was if we were to start searching for a restaurant, there wouldn’t be time to get to Guayasamin’s Capilla del Hombre (The Chapel of Man), which was a “must.” By now it was a toss-up as to which was worse, my overwhelming hunger or my throbbing feet.

We decided to skip the restaurant search and walk to the Capilla which, we were assured, was just a short distance away. We simply couldn’t take a chance on missing the experience of visiting this most amazing structure, Oswaldo Guayasamin’s final dream, completed three years after his death as a tribute to the 500-year struggle of indigenous people of the continent. 

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