One time, when was in Quito, Ecuador, Clem Snide, came and played a free concert in El Mariscal, the place where the cool people go. I went with my cousins, who have two children under seven and do not often go out where the cool people go. When you have two kids, a quiet night out is what you are looking for.
This was a Friday night, and the following Monday and Tuesday were Carnival, so this was the beginning of a huge fiesta. Some people dressed up. Kids throw water and squirt each other with this stuff that is sort of like Silly String (TM). There was a pretty big crowd, even before eight when we arrived.
While we were hanging out waiting for the show to start, I was approached by a group of three kids who appeared to be of college age. One of them explained that he was in a college course and that he wanted me to fill out a survey for him. I was somewhat concerned, as when I was in Madrid my cousin said that she had been warned about some scam that somehow involved filling out a survey or signing a petition. My tall Spanish-speaking cousin seemed to think that they were legit, though. Still, he thought it best that the kid fill out the survey himself.
It turned out that it seemed that the kid was indeed enrolled in an English class and his assignment was to go talk to an English-speaking person long enough to answer this set of eight or ten questions that he had apparently composed himself. They were things like “What are your favorite foods in Ecuador” and “Where are you going for Carnival?” After I had answered the questions and suggested re-wording some of them, they took our picture together, apparently for further evidence that the assignment had indeed been completed. They then all shook my hand and were very appreciative. In retrospect, it seemed like a great assignment. Coercing a college kid to go speak English to a stranger seems like a pretty powerful experience.
Not long after the interview was completed, Clem Snide took the stage. It’s an interesting band. One can never quite tell which of their songs are intended as ironic or sarcastic and which are supposed to be taken at face value. It was fun to see them, though.
During the show a group of twenty-somethings made a sign that said “No + Guantanamo.” Though at first I wondered what the solution to No Plus Guantanamo was (e.g., Guantanamono, Guantananomo?) I think that the intended message was that these young men wanted the US to stop holding people at Guantanamo. I was at first a bit uncomfortable thinking that I was somehow accountable for the problem, but actually, I too, would like Guantanomo closed. Eventually, I asked if I could take his picture, though, and he was quite pleased to pose. I was especially happy that I was able to get both his sign and the Embassy’s sign in the frame together.
Quito is a pretty foggy city. I was very surprised to see that there seemed to be a fog machine on stage. It was hard to be sure, but I went up very close to the stage and sure enough, there was a fog machine. A fog machine in Quito is rather like taking coal to Newcastle, or, perhaps, taking coals to my house in early September of 2010.
After the show we hung out with the fine folks in the band. Lots of people sell candy and cigarettes on the street. One woman with a kid hanging on her back came over to our table and Eff succumbed, giving her a quarter. (Sure, lots of people in Ecuador don’t have the common decency to speak English, but they do use regular money.)
I love the night life. We got some Boogie.
It was our big night out on the town. We were home by 11:00.