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Chimbacalle the heart's route
A Chiva tour thru the traditions and streets of old Quito
Written by: María del Pilar Cobo, Patricia Salvador / Photos: P.Salvador / Translation: Gaspo Sánchez
Tags: Tourism, Culture, Reports,Traditions, Places, Festivities, Ecology.
Page 1 of 2│ August 10, 2011
Chimbacalle the heart's route, A Chiva tour thru the traditions and streets of old Quito.

Do you know the Chimbacalle neighborhood? I do, or so I thought. For it's history this district from Quito is very famous. It has the train station, which was recently selected as one of the seven wonders of the city. This neighborhood is also home of the restored Mexico theater, which was the first cinema in the city, the theater was named Mexico because a long time ago it was used to show mainly Mexican films.


So far that was what I knew abut this famous place but the Chimbacalle neighborhood is far more than just that. Join me on a journey in a Chiva through these colonial streets you might learn something new. (According to the tradition a Chiva is a colorful bus with big windows, like the one in the picture, most times it has it's own band playing music onboard). Each saturday there are several guided trips where I learned, for example, that this was the first working-class district of the city. On the first blocks of the neighborhood there are new and old houses mixed togheter even when most of the old houses were restored decades ago one can for sure tell them apart judging by the style.

Most of the new houses, those builted after the 1970's, are located to my right while the older ones are at the other side of the railway, as we continue the trip old factories and huge buildings began to appear there was the Royal Mills, with its huge silos.


However abandoned, some of these old factories have been repurposed before many times, some as temporal hospitals or shelters nowadays several factories have been rebuilt to house science museums like the former Lanfor factory repurposed as the "Knowledge Factory Museum" another example of this is the interactive museum of science where the old La Industrial factory used to be. This Chiva trip was arranged by the art group Tranvía Cero a group of young creative people that help rescue tradition and history values thru artistic proposals.

The heart's route from Chimbacalle, departed from the small Mexico park, where the neighbors, young and old, were eager to show and see more of their neighborhood. All along the way and onboard the Chiva there were the traditional Brequeros (Railway operators), dressed in blue with yellow stripes all over and a blue cap. The Brequeros helped the Chiva or train transit on the same way. Fabian Rosas, an old Brequero, told us that a long time ago this character was essential to run a railway station, in a time were automatization was not invented yet all trains relied on the Brequero who used an oil lamp and a whistle to guide the machinist so that the train was not derailed. It also carried a stick or rod to stop the train if necessary. The brequero is the symbol of the neighborhood now and one of our official guides throughout the tour.

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