Following a two hour boat trip, and ten hours of bus travel I arrived back into cloudy Quito with some Israeli guys and a Canadian girl to streets lined with people, police and cars bumper to bumper. Ecuador had won the 2014 World Cup qualifiers match against Venezuela and La Mariscal was heaving with young Quitoans clad in glad rags, ready to party. Very few gringos seemed to be out and about.
I headed with some guys to a pipas bar for some shisha and a beer, eventually finding a tiny spot in a crowded room that pumped out Latino music and had the locals swaying their well-dressed hips.
Suddenly, the music stopped and people started pouring out of the back room, coughing, falling over each other, covering their face with their hands and clothes … and then it hit me and my throat choked and my eyes started to water and I got the hell out of there into the fresh air, coughing and spluttering too.
The guy who had served us waved me over. ‘In here’, he said, ushering us into a side entrance and up some stairs to a cool, cosy corner of a club… but people in there were still coughing and masking their mouths and the guys I was with decided they wanted to leave. Feeling the rhythms and the beer, I decided wanted to stay and dance, but thankfully I eventually went with them. It was still getting worse.
‘Sorry, really sorry’, said our host, after trying to persuade us to stay (his sidekick had suggested that if we smoked cigarettes it would cancel out the effect of the gas). Paying up and getting back outside, I saw that the original bar had been emptied and the shutters were down. Shop was closed.
What the hell was it?! Tear gas? A couple hours later, I still felt strange in my nose and eyes. And I felt completely dazed.
A crazy night in Quito.