As my kids and I get ready to leave San Francisco CA, the city where we reside in, to go for a couple of months to visit San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, the city where I grew up (including a 2 week stop in Costa Rica to visit my sister and her family), I already feel nostalgic of the fog city I leave behind.
Both San Franciscos share a good number of curious similitudes. Though San Francisco de Quito (the full name given by its founders) is in the Equator and San Francisco, California, in the Northern Hemisphere, both cities are full of hills, they both have almost exactly the same weather and vegetation year round, and both have a gorgeous fog that rolls in in the evening and rolls out in the mornings. I’ve checked the weather for both at the same time and, except for some picks of cold wind and unusual heat in San Francisco, CA, or some picks of strong sun at noon in Quito (short name it’s known for), they share the almost the same degrees. Their similar environments are due the fact that their location creates pocket weather zones for both. Their spring weather pocket is due to, in the case of Quito, its altitude of 9000 feet, and San Francisco due to its location in the bay, fog and currents. Another similitude was the arrival of the Franciscan orders to both areas, giving their name to both cities. San Francisco’s first mission was built by the Franciscan order, as well as one of Quito’s most beautiful colonial churches and convents. Because of its mild weather, many orders of priests, established ground in Quito creating dozens of colonial churches and convents within a small square mileage. Both cities have very courteous and friendly people, perhaps due to their physical beauty and mild weather conditions.
Both cities are very different many other ways. San Francisco’s natural beauty comes from the gorgeous bay and ocean that surrounds it; while Quito’s natural beauty comes from the magnificent Andes Mountains it’s nestled in. San Francisco’s old neighborhoods are made of beautiful Victorian or Edwardian houses from the late 1800 to early 1900s, while Quito’s colonial town is full of Spanish style houses dating as far back as the 1530s. Quito’s population is composed mainly of mestizos (racially mixed Spanish and indigenous), a small purely indigenous or purely Spanish descendants and a small afro-Ecuadorian population, while San Francisco Bay Area’s population is one of the most diverse in the planet.
There are many pros and cons about living in either city. One of the biggest pros of Quito is the fact that, since most families and friends stay in the same city for most of their lives, people have deep and long lasting relationships. I’m still friends with people who were my classmates in kindergarten, and most of my high school classmates, even if they went to study elsewhere, reside in Quito now. A big pro of San Francisco, is the fact that there is a huge diversity of races, religions, sexual orientation, and more, together with a strong respect and appreciation to diversity.
I want to take advantage of my having a large set of family and friends in San Francisco of Quito and establish good long lasting relationships between my kids and them. I also want my kids to grow up honoring diversity the way most of San Francisco California does. I’m lucky that way, as I want to, as much as possible, offer to my kids the best of both San Franciscos.