“Until I come back, Lord” – A Great Quito Legend
This is the sixth part to our series on Myths and Legends. Now in Ecuador, here is the legend of father Almeida, the most popular Quito legend.
One day during the colonial period in Quito, Manuel de Almeida, a catholic young man, renounced all in life to become a monk at the San Diego monastery. Despite his good intentions, the men at the monastery were living a pretty worldly life, so they were a really bad influence to Manuel. It was common for the young monks to sneak out and get drunk, go gambling, and go to whorehouses. So eventually Manuel started accompanying them and enjoying the debauchery
But things got out of hand when Manuel started obsessing about going out. It was too much even for the young priests who had induced him to it. So the authorities at the monastery had no better idea than to raise the walls around the monastery. But this wouldn’t stop Manuel. He figured that he could still sneak out using a wooden crucifix as a ladder and climbing up to the window above it. Of course this meant stepping on Jesus’ icon, but this did not seem to bother Manuel.
One day, Jesus’ icon got tired of Manuel stepping on him and asked “Until when, Father Almeida?” meaning “How long are you going to keep sneaking out?” to which Manuel slyly replied “Until I come back, Lord.” Not paying particular attention to the incident, Manuel went on his way as usual.
Completely drunk, Manuel was walking, or rather wobbling back to the monastery when he came across a funeral procession in the street. Not having any control of his actions, he bumped into the casket and knocked it down. The casket opened and Manuel saw his own corpse! Manuel freaked out and rushed back to the monastery. That was it for him. From that day onward, Manuel changed his ways and became a devout monk. He even became a monastery instructor in his later years.
The legend of Father Almeida or “Hasta la vuelta, Señor, ” is perhaps the most popular Quito legend. Many things have been named after it, even a famous restaurant in the city. This is but a glimpse of Quito’s rich history and culture. There is so much to see before or after your service program in Ecuador.
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