(yes.... still blogging about that trip that was a million years or a week ago. Might be boring and irrelevant to you, but if I don't record it, I fear how many memories will be lost! And such a precious thing must be protected).
One of the yummiest accidents I've ever enjoyed.
One of the many things I loved about Ecuador was the "random factor". You walk to the bus, parked three blocks from the hotel, since the streets around the hotel are waaaay to narrow for a bus for park on. Once you snake your way out of the city, you find yourself on a gorgeous three lane highway. (that switch-backs up and down and around and around to get you out of a massive valley). Along the way you'll see fifty million random roaming dogs, people sitting along the curb of the busy highways, random "guerilla kitchens" just about anywhere.
Like, say, in a gas station. I got off the bus to go use the banos (toilet is a word you learn pretty much right away because you can't live long without a toilet). In the gas station where you could buy the typical road snacks like chips, water, pop, candy, is a small table containing a bowl of beans and some trimmings. I watched some tiny mountain women in front of me get dished up an unfamiliar dish of white beans, roasted corn, plantain chips, and a sort of salsa made out of spanish onions, tomatoes, and maybe lime and vinegar.
I asked; "quantos?" which so far has meant that people tell me how much something is, even if I might be spelling and saying it mostly wrong. The lunch lady said "Un dollar". YES!!
I got back on the bus and enjoyed one of the yummiest of all time simple dishes of my life! So good.
At a gas station, you might also find Panama hats.
And random doggies.
If you want to, you can pick up an ice cold road beer for about a buck.
Or a beautiful mountain girl who sings indigenous songs into a microphone for us, tells us via our translator that she is nineteen and saving up money to further her education, and then weaves her way through the bus to sell us Ecuadorian scarves. I think she did really well on the whole scarf thing because she was so kind to share herself with us, and I just really admired her pluck.
There was much to see in Otovalo.
roughly a zillion kiosks selling much of the same things over and over again, sometimes with variations.
But no duplicates on the intricacy of the human faces.
Ponchos and sweaters.
Hard core artwork. (Brian plays guitar like that all the time. On weekends. In the summertime.)
Shirts, alpaca blankets, crazy hats, backpacks.
A gringo in a Panama hat carrying a giant camera.
Shopkeepers chilling out to some board games.
I enjoyed the bustle, the colors, the smells.
Our younger travel companions came away not looking a bit like tourists.
We decided on alpaca blankets for the kids, some leather belts, a shirt for Brian, a baby dress for someone special at home, llama socks, and some art for Brian.
On the trip back to Quito, we also stopped in "leather town". I'm sure it has a proper name but I certainly don't know it. All I remember is that it sells a lot of leather.
I noticed the beggers here, as they were distinctively teeny tiny and barefoot. I felt sad and helpless so I gave them some change, but really wondered what their stories were.
When I say teeny and tiny, I'm not exaggerating.
I look like I could scale tall buildings in a single bound.
I did buy a small handbag in leather town. It was kind of creative.
Our trip to Otovalo wasn't exactly what I'd expected; if one can have expectations based on absolutely nothing but one's imagination. There was a lot of repetition in the market, and the merchandise was much the same as we'd seen in Quito and Banos. I enjoyed that the vendors weren't super high pressure and didn't harass us if we responded with a "no, gracious". I loved the colors and the people, the fresh fruit, hot sun, and the cold beer. I didn't see any of the textiles that I'd imagined, but that didn't mean that I was disappointed. The alpaca was luxurious, and any time wandering around in a market place is a pleasure for me.
I often enjoyed shopping in the grocery store that was right next door to our hotel in Old Quito. It was a "Tia Mart", and I found it relieving to know what the prices were without having to ask or barter. For .69 I could buy a tray of sliced pineapple when the fried food all around me got to looking like a super bad idea. We also took advantage of the .89 Pilsenner beer in the fridge- ice cold and such a delightful treat for a Canadian not at all used to finding beer in gas stations and convenience stores.
One night instead of going out for dinner, we went and bought some baguette, cheese and some weird meat (Brian's idea, not mine). It went perfectly with 89 cent beer.
I found Snob jam at the Tia Mart. Too bad we don't get that here, I know some people that would be perfect for.
Sangria in a tetra pack for $2.59. Also probably not a great idea.
Why waste perfectly good fridge space when you can stack eggs right on the shelf?
Or how about a little Pork in cellophane?
Whereas this stuff was like poor man's crack cocaine to the likes of me. Crunchy, salty, yummy.
Ecuador, you were good to me.
I stood on your equator.
Walked along your pathways.
Stared at your busy streets.
Ate your fascinating dishes.
I don't know if we'll meet again, but I do know that I don't regret a moment.