Saturday was one of those beautiful but cold days, and I thought it would be an ideal day to celebrate the 473rd anniversary of the foundation of Quito, capital of Ecuador.

Fortunately, I learned that that there was a Fiesta Cultural Quitena, sponsored by the Eucadoran Embassy going on. It is after all the 473rd anniversary of the founding of Quito, so naturally there should be a celebration of this in the heart of Seoul. The flier I saw promised music and food, so I had high hopes. Dashed hopes, as it turned out.

Unsurprisingly, I am, it seems, destined not to get decent Latin American food for a can dream...

I am not sure how many Ecuadorans there are in Seoul, but none save two (on stage) seemed to be at the festival. The tables with various Ecuadoran swag were manned by Koreans.

There were also some young Seoulites dressed in traditional Eucadoran garb to entice people into the festival from the busy pedestrian street.

This being a small, small world after all, it happens that we know an American newly moved to Seoul who used to live in Ecuador. We invited him along to the festival.

On the way over he mentioned that the previous night he happened to be on a subway car when a guy looking remarkably Ecuadoran walked on. They spoke in Spanish and sure enough this man, Tino, was Eucadoran. Our friend was enticed to follow the Tino to a club where he proceeded to play an Ecudaoran pan flute concert. Our friend snuck out.

As you would expect this story to resolve, the music at the fiests was indeed of the painful panflute variety, inexplicably played along to tapes of a metal band. It could have been interesting, but felt like being in an American corporate plaza at lunch time. We snuck out.

To salvage this beautiful day we did the next logical thing: we went down to the Seoul race track for an afternoon racing.

Our friend formerly of Eucador an now of Seoul had never played the horses, which meant of course that he was destined to win. Win he did. Win I did not, as Yoda might put it.

The Lil Buddha liked being out by the finish line, despite the chilly weather. Rubbing her ample belly did not improve my luck, alas.

We stayed until the end, not fully thinking though the implications of the post-race crowds at the subway.

When you leave the racepark, there were many street food stands cooking food and serving it on the sidewalk in little tents. Street stalls are an extremely common sight around Seoul, these were especially elaborate ones. It was quite cold out, but they were all packed. The food smelled delicious.

The subway stop is right in front of the track, and there was a huge wall of people going into the station. The scrum at the trains was impressive, even by Seoul standards.


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