A traditional coffee
In case you have not noticed yet, this young quiteña, whose feet beg to dance every opportunity, is me. Bernarda Carranza. I'm no expert on the subject of Quito but like any other respected journalist I am curious and resourceful, so, I ask around and my handy tools (a small blue notebook and a pen) help me capture everything that amazes and arouses my interest.
The Old Town is a place for time travel, to an epoch when the streets were narrow and long, when houses were pastel-colored, when the balconies were small and flooded with geraniums. I go back to a Quito where musical trios played the characteristic “pasillos” and listening to jokes (or “cachos”) in the streets was an everyday thing. I go back to a place that I only heard about in my grandparent’s childhood stories.
But let’s not get too nostalgic.
So, I’m going to start now with the most important thing to start the day... breakfast. I started walking in Old Town and at around 8:30 a.m., but at 9:30 a.m. I hadn’t eaten and the hunger was beginning to cloud my vision.
So, we headed to Cafetería Modelo located in the streets Sucre and Garcia Moreno. This café exists since 1950 and upon entering you can’t help but notice its traditional feel. The walls are filled with framed black and white photographs and old newspaper clippings. The photos show the Old Town of the past. The first picture, to me, is the one that stands out. It’s the image of “La Torera” ("The Bullfighter"), an iconic character of the city. She was a woman who paraded around the streets of the town every day – from 1940s to 1980s. She was known for her colorful and elaborate costumes (hence the nickname "torera").
I spotted a neon sign that illuminated the name of the place, “Cafetería Modelo”. I then heard a pasillo coming from the second floor. My eyes followed the sound and to my surprise I realized that it was coming from a musical trio (live at 9:30 in the morning!), all suited and booted, with their guitars, delighting customers with their music.
We walked through the cafeteria. Most of the tables were full. As we passed by, people smiled. We went up to the second floor where walls were awash with yellow. Soon our breakfasts arrived. Mine was guava juice, omelet, cheese sandwich and coffee. While I enjoyed the warm butter that seeped through melted cheese, more customers were entering and leaving.
Traditional courtesy was not a thing of the past, at least in Cafetería Modelo. Every quiteño who walked by our table said "buen provecho" or “enjoy your meal”. Long may this tradition survive!