Showing posts from November, 2011

A Week in Quito

We had a couchsurfer this week! His name is Paco and he is from France and he is awesome. Since he has been here, there have been wonderful things happening in my kitchen and the house has been mysteriously clean. We will be sad to see him go on Tuesday but he is moving on to better things (volunteering in the jungle). His first day here, he left this surprise on our counter.

 Fruit tower! Paco, Laura, and I went to the opera Saturday night. I got to put on my fancy pants and we had some nice wine. The opera had two acts. The first part was a tragedy about a nun who killed herself to be with her bastard son in heaven, the second was a comedy about a tricky con artist lawyer. People dressed pretty casually which made me a little sad. Tickets for the nosebleed section were $15. I want to return to Teatro Nacional Sucre to see a ballet or dance troupe.

 Laura, Paco, and me!!
Teatro Nacional Sucre- Where the magic happens Paco has been cooking up some awesome stuff in our kitchen, such as home…

My Neighborhood

I live in the northern part of Quito near the city park Parque La Carolina. My neighborhood revolves around one big road, Republica del Salvador, that looks different from the rest of Quito.  When I try to explain it to people, it sounds like I live in Europe. There are pretty tree lined streets, tons of fancy bakeries and cafes, a bagel shop, sushi places, dance studios, and tall high rises with trendy new apartment buildings. I live on the eighth floor of a brand new apartment building. My neighborhood is safe compared to the rest of Quito because of how many businesses there are here targeted towards upper class Ecuadorians and gringos. This means a LOT of armed guards kicking suspicious people out of the neighborhood. I understand that this is both good and bad, but for me, it means I can walk to get a shwarma at 9 PM and not worry too much.

 Main street of my neighborhood: Republica del Salvador We have a huge Wal Mart style store called Mega Maxi that I try to avoid. Two blocks aw…

Itchimbia Craft Expo

After the clothing swap on Sunday, most of the teachers headed up to Itchimbia Park for a huge crafts market. The park is set on a hillside overlooking Quito’s Old Town, and on a pretty day like today, is pretty much the place to be. The cultural center in the park is a huge greenhouse that sometimes hosts art exhibits or markets. Luckily for us, it was a craft expo!  Cultural Center in the park  Quito sprawling out behind us I did my fair share of shopping. I got a wood carving of an owl for my wall, some Christmas gifts (shhh secret), a new journal for myself. They had jewelry and bags and sculptures and so many other unique crafts to buy. Compared to the United States, everything is relatively cheap, but I have been living in Ecuador for a few months now and ten dollars seems like a ridiculous price to pay for ANYTHING. I bought tampons at the pharmacy last week and the pharmacist gave me a hard time for paying with a twenty.   Inside the Expo- Crafts everywhere!! After the market, we h…

Clothing Swap/Scone Adventure

On Sunday the female teachers of Colegio Americano are doing a brunch clothing swap. Everyone brings a dish of food and any clothes, shoes, accessories they don’t want anymore. You can take other people’s old clothes for free, and whatever is left at the end of the day we donate to a charity.
My roommate and I decided to tackle scones for the brunch, and to try to bake a whole variety of flavors. The experience started off well because our grocery store was having a few liquor sampling for who knows what reason (fall? Christmas? Upcoming bull fights?). 

 Liquor sampling at Mega Maxi
We ended up deciding on three flavors: Rosemary pear, chocolate cranberry, and cinnamon apple. They all turned out perfect! They tasted exactly like how a scone should taste. Laura and I feasted on them last night and I can’t wait to eat some more today at the party.

Chopping fresh pears and apples for the scones
 Cutting out dozens of scones
We destroyed our kitchen and it took hours to make but it was worth i…

El Pobre Diablo

I discovered a new favorite spot in Quito this weekend. There is a music venue called El Pobre Diablo (the poor devil) that I have been meaning to check out and last night they were featuring a jazz quintuplet so we figured that was a great chance to try out the bar.  It turned out to far exceed my expectations. The music was great, the lead trumpet was from New Orleans and they played a lot of original music. The atmosphere was great, lots of people cracking open bottles of wine, sharing food, enjoying the music. We split a platter of cheeses and meats and olives and a bottle of wine. The restaurant itself is adorable, exposed brick, gardens out front, framed photos of jazz musicians everywhere. They are having a Celtic band this week that I am hoping I get to check out.  Ritmo Armonico Jazz Quintuplet

Link to the venue and events:
Pobre Diablo

Vegetarian Restaurant

There is a vegetarian restaurant near my house that I have been meaning to try but never got around to it. Yesterday my roommate and I decided to try it out because all the conditions were finally right (it was open, we were in town, we were awake…) and it was so great! When you sit down, there is only one option and that is the daily lunch. Yesterday it consisted of yucca soup, maracuya juice, vegan salchicha (hot dog), tofu scramble stewed cabbage, brown rice, and cucumber salad. The whole meal was $2.50.   Set lunch menu on Saturday
Everyone who worked there was really friendly and it had a decent crowd. It’s called Ming Yuen and it is right off Seis de Deciembre across the street from Mega Maxi. I will definitely be returning to this little veggie joint.   Interior of the restaurant

Ecuadorian Baby Shower

One of my coworkers is about to have a baby so my section in the school threw her a baby shower after school on Friday. I was curious to see an Ecuadorian baby shower, which turned out to be pretty similar to an American baby shower, except for the chancha (pulled pork) tacos we ate.
The hostess planned a bunch of fun games. The first was to test how soft your fingers were, they filled a bowl of rice with safety pins, and blindfolded we each had to sort the safety pins from the rice. We also were each given a clothespin at the beginning of the party to wear, and anytime any guest crossed their legs or arms you could steal their clothespin.  Game of "find the safety pin"  Game of "don't cross your hands or feet"
Everything was done up really beautifully, with an adorable cake, baby socks, prizes, coffee and tea for all. Ecuadorians know how to eat, we had an awesome spread of DIY tacos with guacamole, pulled pork, chicken, salsa, roast veggies, and different cheese…

Keeping Busy

I try to keep busy in Quito, although I am having a bit of a slow week. Normally, I have belly dance class and Spanish class each week, as well as school functions or trips around the country.
I've been killing my downtime lately watching Six Feet Under. It's so surprisingly quirky, deep, and artistic. When I finish all 5 seasons, I am going to tackle The Sopranos next.

I recently finished Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. That book left me emotional for days and I am still trying to process everything that I experienced while reading it.

When I finished Freedom, I basically inhaled The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It seemed relevant considering all the North Carolina eugenics scandals coming to light in this last month or so. Strange how medicine and science have so much potential for good, but can be abused so easily...

I am currently reading Susanna Clarke's Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It is a book about 19th century English magicians, and…


Leaving Guayaquil, we had to take two different buses to get to Montañita. The second bus was kind of crazy because they were out of seats so they basically made my friend and I sit on the engine up front, we were flying all over the place as we whipped around corners along the coast. Beautiful view of the ocean though! It is THE beach town in Ecuador, known for its 24 hour a day party scene and great surf. A lot of the teachers rented a mansion on the beach, but a friend and I decided to stay in a small little beach shack hostel in the city instead. I still don’t know how I feel about our decision. It was literally a tiki hut with some mats on the floor and hammocks strung up everywhere. Maybe it would have been gross or too rustic, except for the fact that we were literally on the beach. Step one foot out of the hostel and voila, ocean!

 My friends' house was the mansion on that cliff The town of Montañita is somewhere I would like to return on a weekend when it is not a holiday be…

Guayaquil: Not So Scary!

Colegio Americano and all of Ecuador for that matter had a 5 day vacation this week. I spent one day in Guayaquil and a couple nights in Montañita. Surprisingly, I found myself wishing I had remained in Guayaquil for the whole holiday because I really took a liking to the city, probably because it looked like South Florida and reminded me of home. From the moment we arrived, everything reminded me of Florida. The streets were lined with palm trees, the architecture looked the same, the air even smelled the same. A friend from my school used to live in Guayaquil and still has a lot of friends there, so we stayed in his old house. The house looked like every Florida home I grew up in, and the sound of the palm trees rustling in the wind made me really homesick. The first morning he took us to a breakfast cafe that looked just like Cafe du Monde in New Orleans!! We tried lots of different local foods, but the best was tigrillo, a bowl full of everything you could ever want for breakfast s…