Winter has arrived in Quito.
But, in a city on the equator, what does that mean exactly?
Oddly, though Quito is actually south of the equator line, it experiences its “winter,” or rainy season, at the same time as the northern hemisphere. Unlike the northern hemisphere, however, Quito’s rainy season is usually about half the year. No transitional spring or autumn seasons. More accurately, Quito experiences winter-like conditions on a day-to-day basis. These winter-like conditions are essentially greyness that actually means rain.
A classic winter day would be partly cloudy throughout the day, with a few hours of rain in the afternoon. Remember - Quito is in the mountains here, so the weather is also tied to the mountain tradition of afternoon showers, but because of generally fast-moving weather systems, Quito still gets a significant amount of sun.
So, even if you wake up to sunlight on a Quito day in, say, January - that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t bring your raincoat on your adventures throughout the city.
Another thing, is that this whole “season” thing here is unique in the absence of a yearly date on which winter officially starts, or a date that marks the middle of the summer. More often, people in Quito consider seasons to all happen within one day. Take this video for example:
Once, when spending a weekend at Quilotoa, I asked a person working at the hostel we were staying at when winter would start. Without skipping a beat he replied, “It started just a couple of days ago, actually.”
“Oh, really!” I responded, stoked to hear the answer from a trustworthy source, someone who I had no reason to lie to me at least. Just seconds later, he broke the pause in conversation by saying,
“Oh yeah, it was really rainy on Sunday, so I suppose winter is here now.”
I was disillusioned. Though disappointed that seasons might not be a well-defined thing here, it was also a big step towards me actually understanding how seasons work here - unpredictably, and with practicality valued higher than theory.
Welcome to winter!