The warm summer rain thundered down on top of the car, sheets of water slid down the windshield, sprinkling me as I lay in the backseat, my hands tucked in between my knees. Looking out the car window into the thickness of darkness, I saw tendrils of Spanish Moss swaying in the wind. The last of the tropical storm continued to sweep through the southern part of the state, leaving broken tree limbs and powerlines scattered up and down the rural highway….
El Tropical, located in Quito’s historical La Ronda neighborhood, features an old school jukebox, along with the elusive naranjilla drink. The naranjilla is fermented, and served in glass bottles for muy barato. It is bright yellow, and looks as though it could be melted mustard gas. This drink is supposedly found only in this bar, and cannot be purchased anywhere else in Ecuador. An old man with poor eyesight and a penchant for dirty handkerchiefs checks on the small vintage tables, making sure everyone is getting their fill. The crowd is usually mixed. Late night vagabonds, along with young musicians and artists frequent El Tropical. The draw for me is the incredible jukebox. The music of Celia Cruz, Marta Perez, along with dozens of Cuban singers and musicians waft from the old jukebox, filling the air with magic. El Tropical is a place that must be visited. It is charming and timeless.