Compared to the crowded and hectic cities of Caracas, Bogota and Lima, Quito might seem like a tranquil, small city, comfortably nestled into the tranquillity of the Andean valleys. In the historical centre, taxi drivers and civilians alike create queues because they are busy buying ice cream from street vendors. In La Floresta, just between the historical centre and the modern centre, local wills leisurely sit in parks and watch life go by. In the modern centre, La Carolina park is, at any day and day of the week, filled with happy faces playing anything from Ecuadorian volleyball to football. Overall, Quito gives off a relaxed vibe; it is a city at ease.
Yet, these serene hills were also the cradle of what would eventually lead to the liberation of Latin America. In one of the brightly coloured houses located in the historical centre (back then it was of course just known as the centre) a group of criollos, locally born people with Iberian heritage, schemed to take sovereignty over Quito away from the Spanish crown. While the immediate attempt to gain sovereignty was shortlived, it was not its material gains that mattered. This was the first time the idea of liberation had been voiced and acted upon, and as a result, this move served as inspiration for all the colonies of Latin America.
Quito would hereby be known as ‘Luz de America’, or the Light of America, as it acted like a beacon for the region, spurring the notion that freedom was on the horizon. Hence, today, the 10th of August, the Day of Independence of Ecuador, is not only a commemoration of Ecuador’s first step towards liberty, it is a commemoration of the independence of the whole of Latin America.