Once upon a time, as all good fairy tales begin, there was a rich and arrogant man who lived in the colonial city of Quito. This gentleman lived like a prince and thought himself better than the people of the city, better than his peers, and even better than the proud cockerel that served as a weather vane on top of the Cathedral of Quito. In fact, he made it a daily practice to insult the rooster as he passed by,
“¡Que tontería de gallito!”
“What a joke of a rooster!”
One night, after an evening of carousing in a local inn, this prosperous yet prideful man decided to again stop and berate the proud cockerel. The rooster lost all patience and, against all odds, he removed himself from his metal perch and flew down to attack the drunkard. The gallito jabbed and stabbed and poked until the man covered his head and ran away in terror, his hateful words halted mid-sentence.
The following morning the man awoke to find himself covered in wounds. Although he recalled an attack by the cockerel, he had a hard time believing that a weather vane could have castigated him in such a manner. But injuries don’t lie, so the overbearing gentleman chose to stop drinking anything but water and to never insult the cockerel again.
Forever after, the cockerel has remained at his post, overlooking Quito, serving as a compass to the four winds. Nary a rumor exists that he has left his post since colonial times, but be warned as you walk through the Plaza de la Independencia. He is always on guard for people filled with too much pride.
Great thanks to our guide, Adriana, and to an unknown blogger from Flicker.com for this story in Spanish… as with all good fairy tales, I have taken the liberty to tell it as I see fit. Any part that does not fit with legend is completely my fault alone.