This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life. I love it all!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dia Once en Quito, Ecuador



Morning dawned brightly on our eleventh day here. The choirs had gotten up early and gone their various directions. After our big day yesterday we let them do their own thing and we slept in-- until 8:30.

Both the shower and toilet in our room are running very slowly. By the time we finish a shower we are standing in 3 inches of water!
Our day will be filled pretty much with the details of preparing for our next adventure, the Galapagos. We need to move some of our belongings to the hotel where we will stay when we return from the Galapagos. We can only take one bag aboard the plane out to the islands, so we asked and the hotel will store the other bags which will be filled with things we don't need or that we have acquired.

We took to take taxi over to MamaCuchara's to pick up the music they'd copied for Leslie, then over to the new hotel to drop off our extra baggage an
d souvenirs, then on to have lunch at what is reported to be the best place in Quito for Seco de Chivo (goat stew). A short taxi ride and we got our things safely deposited in the store room of the hotel. We Had a great seco de chivo at La Buen Sandwich under La Cathedral in the Plaza Grande. This place was highly rated by Lonely Planet and this time they got it right. Chunks of goat braised forever until they are so tender and have absorbed the essence of the sauce they braised in, served next to the ever=present mound of rice, some papas and slices of avocado. Muy Bueno!

We also bought one of those great helados from a vendor in the square like the one we enjoyed along o
ur way yesterday, though this one wasn't nearly as rich.

The next stop, another must see when in Quito. We
grabbed a taxi and asked to be taken to the Guayasamin museum, the great 20th century painter who lived here in Quito most of his life.

One would think that a taxi driver would know who this great man was and how to take tourists to his museum. And our taxi driver assured us he
did. Not this guy. Oh, he said he knew how to get there, but by the time we had gone through a very long tunnel and through a toll booth, we had a pretty good idea he was hopelessly lost. We pulled over at Leslie's insistence and asked a guy who happened to be walking along the side of the road. He pointed up, way up, and back the way we came. Way back the way we came. Back through the toll booth, through the tunnel and up, up, way up. Leslie's map skills began to pay off as we zeroed in on the place and finally found it. Then the two of them started discussing what a fair fare would be. He insisting we should pay the full fare and Leslie insisting that it was too much since he obviously didn't know where he was going. Eventually, they settled amicably on a much reduced fare and we hopped out in front of the museum.

The museum is actually his home up in an upscale neighborhood. Beautiful home with a view out across the valley and across to neighborhoods on the op
posite hillside. We got a guided tour in Spanish and I was surprised at how much I understood. The gift shop was filled with prints of his works priced from around $400 up to around $2,000. Posters were also available much cheaper but we have no interest in those. The signed and numbered print I liked best was about two grand so it stayed on the wall. I'm relaxing out on the patio right now while Leslie looks through some of the other rooms.

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A bit about taxis here in Quito. We have had great luck with taxis so far. If you travel here be sure to insist on the cabbie turning on the meter before you go anywhere. The exception is on Sundays when they don't always turn them on them and often charge double the standard rate which is why they don't want to turn on their meters. You need to know what the normal rate (experience or talking to other folks who have been there for a few days will help you get your sea legs on this issue) is and then expect it to be double.

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We next headed for the Capilla del Hombre, a Guayasamin tribute to peace over war. It was supposed to be a 5 block walk which turned into a 5 block walk uphill. That might be doable at sealevel but I am not always doing well even when I'm not moving. Shortness of breath at higher altitudes has always been a problem for me, even as a kid. So I got real grumpy when I saw what we were getting into. Leslie saw a cab coming down the hill and asked him to take us the rest of the way. I felt kind of stupid when the cabbie turned around and drove about the equivalent of a block and dropped us off. Very kind of him when he could easily have refused and gone on to get a far more pricey fare. The Capilla del Hombre is a fortress-like construction. Inside the massive main room are huge paintings depicting war, injustice and their consequences. There is more on the floor below including a photo gallery of Guayasamin with various heads of state, Castro, Mitterand, etc., with any U.S. president conspicously absent. What with his socialist political leanings though, I guess a photo op with a U.S. president might not be forthcoming. Guayasamin died in 1999 so his estate has been turned into the Guayasamin Foundation which, besides controlling all things Guayasamin, also promotes peace and justice especially in parts of the world where that is in short supply. When we were ready to leave we asked at the entrance for a cab. An older man came up and offered to take us but we balked when we saw that he was unmarked. The attendant at the ticket window assured us he was okay so we decided to take a chance. But we settled on a price before we got in. $3 for all the way across town to our hotel. We knew that was fair so off we went.

Leslie hopped out near the hotel at the Supermaxi and I went on to the hotel to rest up before we headed out to dinner.
Dinner was a three block walk away in a Brazilian place Leslie had spotted on one of her walks. It specialized in roasted meats that were brought to your table and sliced off the rotisserie. They brought us 8 different cuts of meat--pork, beef and chicken. An assortment of salads, rice, black beans (these caused me a problem when I bit into a small pebble and cracked a tooth), boiled potatoes and a local draft beer cost $20. We were stuffed!

A short walk through our neighborhood, even after dark, with no problems at all, and we arrived safely back to our room.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dia Nueve en Quito, Ecuador






Up at 8:30. Usual breakfast. Our amiga from La Ciudad de Mexico, Zulyanar, was downstairs waiting for a friend to come and take her to see the Middle of the World sites, the equator sites we saw our 2nd day here. We had a nice farewell with her and exchanged invitations to come visit. We grabbed a taxi and headed for the historic old part of town.

We got dropped a block or so from the Iglesia de Santo Domingo. Outside the church was a plaza surrounded by shops and restaurants and personas y familias filled the plaza. We visited the Iglesia and stayed for part of the Domingo mass. The beauty of the church and service were marred by the poor choice and poor performance of the music. This is a living church. Not a museum, but hearing Simon and Garfunkel performed poorly in a church built in the 14th century just doesn't work for me. I want to hear good quality sacred music, preferably which matches the period of the church. The church is also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and to hear out of tune folk music in such a stunning place. . . We talked about the 1962 Vatican 2 directive that took away the Latin mass with the idea that it was to help the people become more a part of the service. I think we were in agreement that was not happening in the church we were visiting. The congregants sat when they were told to and stood when they were told to. Seldom did we see them much more actively involved than that. They didn't sing. They recited prayers from memory. They showed no connection to what was going on. It was pretty much the priest's show.

It was out in the plaza outside the church where we saw the only bit of trouble so far on the entire trip. A couple of men seemed to be arguing over a woman. There was a lot of screaming. A couple of punches were thrown, but the interesting thing was that within seconds a motorcycle policeman had literally driven at high speed across the plaza and, with his bike, separated the men. I mean it was so quick.

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While I'm on that subject, let me just speak bit about security here in Quito. While planning this trip we went onto the United States State Department website to find out about any concerns we should have regarding our safety in Ecuador. The website warned us about pick pockets, muggings, petty theft, some incidents of people having been murdered. Enough to scare hell out of me.

But we have found Quito to be filled with warm, friendly, helpful and honest people. Sure we are wearing our money belts but we do that whe
n ever we travel to foreign countries. We are aware of where we are and who is around us. We walk like we know where we are going. We educate ourselves before going so we know where and when to go and not to go. Finally, we can't help that we are Americans, but you would do well not to advertise it. Play down the natural tendency we Americans have for being aggressive, sometimes demanding. Leave your conspicuous wealth at home. Most of the world doesn't wear white tennis shoes. Be kind. Try to speak their language. Don't expect them to speak English even though they probably do, and well. It really seems that a little knowledge, good manners and common sense will, as in most cases in life, save you a lot of grief down the road. Just some random thoughts.

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We walked through the streets, down La Ronda with it's black, cast-iron balconied buildings reminiscent of New Orleans. We ran into a street that was filled with people celebrating something. A band played while dancers in local costumes twirled and turned to and fro in the middle of an intersection. A few steps away was the Monestario de Carmen Alto which we stepped into briefly. It was also lovely. Though cerrado (closed) the day of our visit on Sunday, this church's claim to fame is the pan or bread the sisters bake that is for sale. After a brief look inside the church, we headed across the street to the Museo de la Ciudad de Quito. Exquisite! Housed in the beautifully restored 450+ year old first hospital in Quito, the exhibits are well worth your time. Do check out both courtyards. The second is an especially lovely place to sit and relax for a bit.




Entonces,
we walked over to what we both agreed was one of the top 4 or 5 churches we have seen in the entire world. La Compania de Jesus is an absolutely stunning church. The walls, the chapels, the ceiling, the alter, the entire interior of the church is covered in 23 k gold. You must visit when in Quito. I had to sneak my photos which I did discreetly and with the flash and shutter noise turned off.




The Plaza de San Francisco has been beautifully restored by the government. We had read in the Lon
ely Planet that the Tianguez Restaurant in the plaza was a good place to stop for lunch. Well, I disagree except for one very important thing. It is a lovely place to go and sit and gaze out across the plaza. Do not eat at this place. The food is not worth the price. Buy a beer or a hot chocolate and just enjoy the view. The restaurant also has a very pricey gift shop but is fun to look through. There are lovely Ecuadorian handicrafts and the quality is very high, but unless you have the money, just enjoy wandering through the various rooms and down the really cool narrow tunnel that goes and goes and goes taking you past all of the store's offerings. No dickering here either.

Out on the plaza h
owever you are likely to run into young girls selling scarves or handmade bracelets of yarn. Others are pedaling helados, ice cream, kept frozen with dry ice, or other handicrafts. We fell in love with a little girl who was using every bit of her sweet personality to sell scarves. She held a stack of them almost as tall as she was. Dressed in the native costume with the black hat women and girls so commonly wear in this part of the world. Leslie went through half the stack before she found the three scarves she had agreed to buy from the little girl for only $6. The two of them haggled a bit at first. Two for $5 was the girls first offer. Leslie said, "three for $5?" The little girl, with a practiced business manger came back with, "three for $6?" Leslie nodded in agreement and the search for the right colors was on. The deal and scarf selection complete, I took a few photos of this pint-sized entrepreneur and we were off to our next stop.

It was gettin
g on towards 4 and I was bushed so we walked over to the hotel we are supposed to stay in when we get back from the Galapagos. We went in and checked the lobby and asked to call us a cab. In a few minutes the cab pulled up. The hotel was much nicer than our hostel. But then it should be considering the price. Sadly, the desk clerk wasn't real friendly. So we are now considering cancelling our reservation there and saving the money by staying in our hostel upon our return, a very friendly place even if it isn't the classiest hotel. We took the $3 taxi ride back to the hotel where I piled out and left Leslie to take cab over to La Carolina park.

I went on up to relax until she returned an hour or so later.
Today has been a bad day for food. Lunch was a bomb and tonight we took a taxi over to another Lonely Planet recommendation, La Canoa, a place they said would be a great place to eat Ecuadorian cuisine without emptying your wallet. We'd disagree on both counts. We walked in to find the huge dining room mostly empty and those who were there were all Americans. The menu looked like a Denny's menu, the prices reflected it's gringo clientele and the food just didn't stand up to much of what we'd had elsewhere in Quito. I had a tripe stew with little lengths of tripe filled with different ingredients. Leslie had Caldo de Verde which is plantain soup with camerones and a side of rice. We also ordered our favorite Empanadas Verde. Two came on the plate which made a nice little appie. We asked to see a postre menu but when the waiter brought it to us he indicated that, of the full page of dessert items, only two were available, ice cream and the last piece or two of a chocolate cake that looked like it had been sitting out most of the day. Never mind. La cuenta por favor (the count, please). Our dinner, which also included two small bottles of water came to $20. We paid up, asked the waiter to get us a cab, hopped in and were back in our room in 5 minutes. Great site seeing today!

Dia Deiz en Quito, Ecuador




Up early this morning. Taking a bus tour with the choirs from the choral festival. There are choral groups from Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia and Puerto Rico. We were told the bus would leave at 7:30 "en punto" which means exactly. It is currently 8:15! Remember what I said about time? We are going to a place higher up in the Sierra. Oh boy, I can barely breathe at this elevation. This ought to be interesting.

Well, it's 8:45 and we are finally on our way. drove 2 1/2 hours up and up along a very good 2-4 lane divided highway. A lot of places work was being done and the road was every bit as good as any in the U.S. We made a potty stop outside the city of Cotopaxi in a valley high in the Sierra. Leslie grabbed some TP off the roll we keep in our backpack. You need to keep some with you when you are out and about because many public bathrooms don't have any or charge you a small amount for some. Oh, and it is usually recommended that you throw your used TP into a trash can next to the toilet rather than flush it. The plumbing systems just don't tolerate the paper.

Anyway, Leslie is ready to exit the restroo
m but finds she couldn't get the door open. Some enterprising members of the tour just kicked in the door and she was rescued.

We continued on through La Ciudad de Latacunga. We continued on into another town where we suddenly pulled over on a side street and out of these little shops stepped girls holding trays of helados (ice cream bars) for 50 cents. There were all sorts of flavors. We each got a multi-flavored, layered one. They were conical shaped with a flat top, with an ice cream bar stick in it and wrapped in a plastic bag. They were made with fresh fruit and milk. Absolutely delicious! It is one of the best ice creams I have ever eaten.

A bit further down the road, near Cotopaxi,
we pulled over at an overlook. We exited the bus and had to make a run for it across the four lane highway to get to an overlook. Small groups would dart out into the highway just ahead of oncoming traffic. Laguna de Yambo is a volcano caldera which we could look down into a couple of hundred feet below. Long ago it collapsed and, over time, filled with rain water. It was a stunning view. We could see tiny boats along the shore at one end. Pictures were taken and then everyone made the head-long scamper back across the highway and got back on the bus, happy to still be alive.

We finally arrived at our destination, Ambato, a four hour drive from Quito. We walked across the street from our drop off point and into the beautiful Montavalo Park in the center of town. It is a lovely, relaxing spot in the center of town. One block square, it is filled with flowers, statues standing in fountains, carefully manicured shrubs and plenty of benches for old men to sit and discuss, whatever old men discuss while sitting on park benches.

From there we walked a couple of blocks to El Bosque restaurant
where we were served lunch. Our group was so big we had to eat in shifts which meant you had to get seated quickly if you were hungry or you waited for a free table. We found a table for two just adjacent to the bar. A potato cheese soup with a single short rib floating in the middle was served first followed by a plate of smoked chicken, rice, gravy and a too small portion of a delicious salad of tomato, onion, peppers and cilantro. Couldn't figure out what the dressing was, but the salad was the best part of the meal.

We were to meet back in the park in a half hour after we ate.
1 1/2 hours later we were finally walked down to the buses. We took off toward what we we're told was a market, but 10 minutes into the drive the buses pulled over. We waited and waited and finally after about a half hour about a dozen students climbed aboard. We figured they had been left behind and somehow caught up to us. I am surprised we didn't leave folks behind at every stop since no one took account of who was on any of the buses.

Our goal was much, much higher up at a small village called Quisapincha. The road going up was full of hair pin turns with thrilling views back down into the the city of Ambato. There is supposed to be a great market in Quisapincha, but we didn't arrive until 4:00, too late for the market. It turns out we were headed there for a very different reason anyway. The entire town, all
2-3 blocks long sells leather and that is about all you can say about it. If you love leather products this may be a good place for getting them inexpensively. The problem, is we're not much attracted to leather except for our shoes and belts, maybe a purse. These items were supposed to be cheap here and there were cheap items, but not in a style we have any appreciation for. Leslie liked some of the purses but said she doesn't pay that much at home. So, while a few people loaded back on the buses with a new jacket of hat, most bought little souvenir items like coin purses or wallets.

Back down the winding road to Ambato, this time at break-neck speeds, for this evening's concert. Just as we arrived back in Ambato we are pulling
over again! At our bus window appears Eugenio pointing and mouthing the word Cuy and pointing in the direction of a row of small hole in the wall restaurants we had just passed. The bus parked, Eugenio climbed in and asked me if I would like to try Cuy? YES! and I followed him off the bus. We walked the 50 yards back towards these little food stalls, but I could smell the roasting meat long before we got there. In a moment we stood in front of an open air BBQ with whole Cuys slowly turning on a spit, their skins a glossy golden brown, looking like a miniature pig, the aroma, Ay, fabuloso!

We all stood around taking photos at first, but then Eugenio starte
d pointing us in the direction of the mujer who was taking orders. "Un plato de cuy, por favor!" I said enthusiastically. The food was prepared with her bare hands. First, she opened a well worn, dented pot that held boiled potatoes. Reaching in she tossed a couple into a bowl, then, with a ladle, poured the cuy sauce (see recipe below) over the potatoes. Finally, she walked over to where the roasted cuys were awaiting their fate, picked up a fat looking one and brought it back to a well worn chopping block. The cuy was quickly chopped into pieces. Eugenio intervened for us and explained that she should give us the shoulder piece which, at least according to him, is apparently the best part. He was right as far as I am concerned. Oh my goodness! The skin was so crisp. Just like roasted pig skin, crispy, crunchy, caramelized, perfection! The meat was dark like dark chicken and it tastes somewhat like it. There wasn't a lot of it, but it deeply delicious and flavorful. If you are coming to Ecuador or Peru seek out a good cuy joint. Leave your ideas of that cute little pet guinea pig at home and indulge your primitive, carnivore side. Order un plato and dig in. As we walked by the cooks I gave them two big thumbs up and cried out, "Bravo!" They laughed and nodded in appreciation.

Arriving back in town we disembarked again and walked the three blocks to the Teatro Lalama, site of the evening's concert. It was a lovely theater, one of those old theaters built in the days of silent film and live traveling shows, whatever vaudeville might have been called out in Ambato, Ecuador.
We got seats right in the center of the theater and relaxed waiting for the concert to begin. The choir from Mexico was my favorite. They looked beautiful in their all white costumes and had great voices, but as an ensemble they struggled with being in tune. The local audience loved all the groups and hollered calls for "otro!" (Encore) were heard throughout the theater. A standing ovation was also received by all the choirs at the end.

I was stunned by the behavior of the audience during the concert. Children were allowed to run up and down the aisles, people literally took cell phone calls and phones rang all over the theater. At one point, while a choir was performing, a member of the theater crew walked all the way up the aisle, up the stage stairs and walked across the stage to do god only knows what backstage. People got up and went to the lobby to buy food and then came back in and sat down, often forcing many in a row to stand up for them. Nothing like you would expect in a concert in the U.S.

With then end of the concert we headed back to the same restaurant we'd had lunch in bur dinner this time. This time we had a pork chop with rice, a carrot salad and potatoes followed by bunuelos for dessert, a kind of donut served with a syrup.
Finally, onto the bus for the long and uneventful trip home. Most folks slept on the journey home. Good night!

The Ecuadorian National Sauce

Tomate de arbol--blanched, skins removed or purchase premade juice in latin stores

Garlic

Red onion, thinly sliced
Cilantro, chopped Chop or food process all ingredients and combine including tomate de arbol juice.

Cuy Sauce

Saute yellow onions until translucent. Add milk and chopped peanuts and salt and paprika. Whirl in processor.

Sorry I can't be more specific about amounts. These details were given to me by the mother of our host's wife Myriam. Her mother and father were delightful people and wonderful dinner companions when I tasted my cuy. In fact the cuy restaurant was her dad's favorite place!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dia Ocho en Ecuador!





Dormio (Slept, with apoligies for the missing accent mark) well except these beds are muy mal. We had agreed last night to meet Jorge this morning and go to an art museum we all wanted to see. We had breakfast and planned our day while we waited for him. Sadly, found out that the museum was closed today and Jorge really needed to get over to Eugenio's house by noon so our plan fell through. We said our final good byes to our new amigo and headed off on our own.

We had decided to take the Old Town walking tour found in the Lonely Planet guide book.
Our first, since our hotel was closer to the end of the tour than the beginning was at the Museo Nacional, only a block from our hotel, which housed a wonderful collection of Ecuadorian antiquities from pre-Incan through the Spanish period. There was a gold room filled with stunning gold jewelry as well as practical objects like bowls and articles used for rituals. Within the same building were other exhibits of musical instruments as well as modern art. Check out the link above since photos in the museum were not allowed.

Entonces (Then), we walked across the street to Parque El Ejido, a large city park where familias played, old men played a game which resembled bocce ball and where a great many artisans were set up in tents selling blankets, art, jewelry, toys and food. These colorful pedal cars (the blue one in this photo I thought was particularly cool!) were driven around the park on little two lane highways at breakneck speeds by their drivers.

Leslie found some ear rings and a pendant for herself and Kate. She dickered with the seller and was able to get the price down a bit.

Further along we came across an artist selling his and his father's paintings. We were especially taken by his primitives, scenes of everyday life in Ecuador. They were all very colorful and detailed. The art
ist explained the meaning of the inhabitants of each painting. We finally settled on a piece by his father and Leslie negotiated a price the two of them seemed happy with. Leslie figured he wouldn't sell it if he couldn't make some money on it. Entonces, we headed in what we thought was the direction of more artisan stores and a cebiche restaurant highly recommended by Lonely Planet. We walked clear across the park, checked the street signs only to discover we had walked in the opposite direction we needed to go in. My sense of direction really failed me. Leslie saved the day when she sat down with our map of Quito and discovered our mistake. We got headed in the right direction and soon got ourselves back where we wanted to be.

It turns out where we wanted to go was about two blocks from our hotel. How did I get so mixed up? A few blocks and we were in the artisan area we had been looking for. It turns out the artisans were really in an area called Gringo Town because it is where so many tourists go to buy their souvenirs and where apparently a lot of petty crime like pick pocketing occurs. It was a lot of cheap looking stuff and some nice things as well, pero no one seemed interested in dickering. Every other person appeared like they were from the U.S. We decided to leave.

We walked right around the next corner to have a late lunch at Isla del Mar, the cebiche joint I mentioned earlier. A real hole in the wall, it was cheap and the food was wonderful. I ordered a combination plate that included a bowl of Encebollo, a fish and potato stew, and a side of arroz y
un limonada. Only $2.50. Leslie went for the cebiche, a frio dish which looks a lot like a salsa with camerones. The contents are literally cooked by the lime juice which is a key ingredient. It is full of chopped tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, thinly sliced red onion and lots of camarones (shrimp)! Es muy fantastico! She also bought a local brand beer that was a light pilsner and called Pilsner. The bottle was enough for both of us to enjoy. Total cost of the meal--$8.

My knees we
re giving me fits by the time we walked the 2 blocks back to our hotel, so I opted to take a few ibuprofen and lie down while. We figured our walk through Old Town could wait for when we would be staying there after our trip out to the Galapagos.

Leslie decided to head
off on a walk looking for a market and discovered the SuperMaxi a few blocks away. She also discovered a bakery nearby. After about an hour, like a true hunter gatherer, she walked in with a gallon of water she proudly announced she'd bought for only a $1 After buying four 16 ounce water bottles a day from the hotel desk for 75 cents a pop, her 5 liter bottle for a $1 was quite a bargain. She'd also picked up some gifts for family and friends and a few treats she couldn't resist at the bakery. It is dark right now at about 6 pm.

The day and night hours, being so close to the equator, are almost exactly equal. No summer daylight hours until 10 pm here. I do miss my Bellingham summer nights! We had plans to walk over to a Brazilian restaurant for dinner but decided not to after the heavy lunch! Ate a few bites of the bakery goodies Leslie brought back. Exhausting day. Ready for bed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dia Seis en Ecuador




We dressed and went down to our usual breakfast routine and after another rough night in the sleeping department, complained to the manager who gladly agreed to move us to a new room. I stayed to await the move and Leslie went down the street to check out the art museum. I also managed a short nap. By the time she got back our new, much quieter, room was ready for us. We gathered our belongings and set up camp in the new room only a short walk down the hall. It is smaller but still fine and, as I said, quieter. Well see.

I decided to stay in the room today instead
of going to class with Leslie. It was nice not to have to be "on" all day listening to language so hard and still comprehending only a fraction of what was said. I finished "The Last Boy" the new biography about Mickey Mantle. Very well written and fascinating. Got a little caught up on my sleep and with my journaling. I'm also happy to say that I actually feel hungry for the first time all week. I have over-eaten, and more importantly, eaten way too many carbs and I'm really feeling it. This is no way to treat my attempt to loose weight or my health issues. My tummy is actually growling as I write, so I figure I'll be ready for some dinner tonight. Hopefully, it will be a good for me meal. Sadly, I haven't had a lot of control over the choices for food. It's just been what has been put in front of me. It has, in many cases been very good. I like a lot about the Ecuadorian diet. High in fiber foods except the ever present papas fritas and arroz. The cebiche! Oh my, we have got to try this when we get home. I'm waiting for Leslie to return from her class so we can head off for dinner.

She arr
ived full of stories to tell about her day at the symposium. She loves her colleagues Jorge and Zuly from Mexico. We were driven to Orquidea Restaurant for the third night in a row. Tonight the appie was a baked tomato stuffed with what had a sausage texture but was followed by the flavor of tuna. Interesting. The main was a slice of what turned out to be pork but with a texture and flavor of beef, almost like Swiss Steak and topped with a rich, beefy wine sauce that had been way over salted, a seemingly common trait of the food here. On the plate also were few papas fritas, a sliced cornichon pickle, a sliced baby corn and a leaf of bib lettuce. This was followed by the postre which was fresh sliced figs cooked in their own syrup with slices of a mild cheese arranged with them. It was a wonderful dessert but the rest of the meal was so so. I wish they would take us to some whole-in-the-wall Equadorian joint where we could try more of the real local foods.

We all walked home talking and laughing all the way in Spanish, English and my Spanglish!
Were in our quiet little room now. Leslie is finding she has hours of work to reorganize for tomorrow. She has been told that she needs to prepare a presentation with her class for a concert tomorrow night. Only problem is no one ever told her anything about this until today and it has nothing to do with what she was planning to teach tomorrow. So, instead of teaching, she must plan for a performance her class has no chance of being prepared for. Wild! Well, either way, tomorrow is the last day she teaches.

She has hours of work ahead of her tonight.
She has done so well teaching in Spanish and building a rapport with her students in a short amount of time. I am really proud of her.