Month: March 2013

Easter weekend

It’s the last day of the holy week and my last day of relaxing, before my internship kicks off on Monday. Yesterday was Sabado Santo, which is celebrated in Quito with a lot of music and theatre in a street called la Ronda. When I was having dinner at a small kiosk down the road from my hostel (where I sat at their table watching telenovelas with her sister, father and husband) the shopkeeper told me about this event and luckily I found someone at the hostel that was willing to go with me.  It’s the kind of festival I absolutely love with loads of people on the streets in all age varieties but all with a smile on their face.

We listened to all the different types of music coming from the restaurants and bars and were just deciding where we would go in for a drink and a listen when a lady gave us a flyer that said “Ballet Andino”, which obviously made us wonder what that might look like. It turned out that the dance was going to start in ten minutes so we decided to go in and check it out.

We walked through a small door that led us through a bar and then into a passageway that led to a central patio that had been turned into a theatre. That alone was amazing. I love secret hideouts in cities and this one was really lovely. It made me appreciate Quito even more and made me realize this is definitely a place I could feel very much at home in. The dancegroup was called Humanizarte and performed different dances to represent the different regions in the country (but really had very little to do with ballet). It was really nice and I’m so glad we went in.

Today I went to the teleférico with another guy from the hostel, which is a cable car that goes up to a mountain outside Quito and allows you to appreciate some panorama views that take your breath away in the most literal sense of the expression. A lady we ran into half way up to the Pichincha-summit, told me it would be an easy hike all the way up for young, fit looking kids like ourselves…… It wasn’t easy and I didn’t walk all the way up (I think we had another couple of hundred meters to go) but it was definitely a stunning place.

I think I’m pretty much over my jetlag now and ready for the new week. The connection is a bit strange today so I’ll post pictures in a later post.

Happy Easter everyone!

Good Quito

It’s good Friday in Quito and I feel I should write something all though I’m not feeling very inspired… which is strange, since today was all about inspiration and devotion. And penitence… lots and lots of penitence.

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It’s difficult to relate to such an extreme expression of faith as a non-religious person, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. Quito is a very nice city. It appreciates the beauty of its buildings and its surroundings, making it a very pleasant town to walk around in. I have been warned about safety-issues by several people but the general atmosphere is absolutely not threatening.

Yesterday I went to the place where the Ecuadorian equator is honored with some people I met at the hostel. It was good fun and I was extra thrilled when I spotted my first hummingbird. I managed to take one quick pic, but it’s not worth  sharing.

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Our taxi-driver was a really sweet guy, that made the trip so much more enjoyable. He chatted away and told us all he knew about Quito and its history. He also took us up to Pululahua, which is the crater of an old volcano. The valley has its own micro-climate and looked like an amazing place to be able to call home. When I asked him what Pululahua meant, he had to admit he didn’t know but promised me he would find out. He was a man of his word and while we were walking around the place, he asked the guys at the gate if they knew. They did; it means cloud of water (aka mist), which is what sweeps through the valley all day.

Well, that’s all I can squeeze out of my still slightly jetlaggy brain right now… But so far, so good!

Picaflor

What I absolutely want to see in Ecuador are hummingbirds. I love them and have had very little luck photographing them in the past. They are so quick and mesmerizing that I always seem to miss the best shot. When one shows up, I hold my breath and usually choose to enjoy the moment instead of grabbing my camera…

But I will succeed! The pics below are the best shots I’ve managed so far (from Bolivia and Jamaica).

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You missed…

A little more than one week for my departure. What am I going to miss?

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Forget baguettes and croissants, this is bread!

I just ate breakfast. I love breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day and I indulge in it as much as I can. We Dutchies like our breads. Good sturdy wholemeal bread with all sorts of toppings. In my opinion, it is one of the things we excel in most (besides watermanagement and creating Doutzen Kroes) and it is most definitely one of the things I am going to miss very much during my travels.

Now, there are some very stereotypical Dutch products, that foreigners have to have tried at least once to understand our palate. Dutch cheeses are sold all around the world and all though I love a piece of good ripe cheese on a piece of fresh baked brown bread, I think I will manage 3 months without it just fine. Same goes for drop (or liquorice). People that haven’t grown up eating drop will never understand how we have ever come to see it as a treat. It is one of our favorite japes, to present foreigners with our drop (especially our salty varieties) and watch their faces twitch and spasm until they spit it out. Come to think of it, maybe I will take some with me and if I remember, I’ll make a video of the faces of my new Ecuadorian friends when they try it. I just hope they will still be my friends afterwards…

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varieties of Dutch cheese
Varieties of drop

 

Another Dutch product that actually does do very well amongst foreigners, are stroopwafels. They are waffle-cookies with syrup in between. Very simple, very sweet, very much appreciated. Nobody spits these out, unless they have diabetes… I think I might take a couple of packets of these along with me as well (possibly to help people rinse away the drop-taste).

 

Stroopwafels

And last but not least I would like to mention appelstroop, which translates to apple syrup. It is one of my favorite things in the world and if I could, I would eat it all day long. It is a product that not all of my fellow countrymen and -women appreciate the way I do, but it is perhaps the thing I will miss most while abroad.

cute traditional appelstroop cans
… but the cheaper varieties are actually tastier i.m.o

The taste of Appelstroop can best be described as sweet and slightly tart (sourish). It is absolutely delicious on (here we go again) wholegrain bread, possibly in combination with a piece of cheese or bacon. You can also use it to add to the flavor of a good beef-stew.

So… just a little more than a week before my departure. And then three months from now I will write about which Ecuadorian foodstuffs I am going to miss back in Holland.

Can’t wait!

Salve, oh patria

My mind is preoccupied with very little else than my upcoming trip, so this morning I started out by checking out posts my fellow WordPress-bloggers had written about Ecuador. Then, I surfed on to Wikipedia to check on a couple of facts I had read (and yes I know there are more reliable  sources than Wikipedia but I guess I just wanted a quick fix) and stumbled upon the Ecuadorian national anthem.

I remember the Bolivian national anthem from when I lived there as a kid and I remember it as an anthem an army could march too; very different from the slow and solemn anthem we have in Holland. The lyrics are quite defiant, celebrating a newly won freedom from the Spanish and calling out: We will die before we live on as slaves! I remember being overwhelmed by the Bolivian national anthem whenever I heard it in public.

Besides having a quite similar coat of arms to the Bolivian one, the Ecuadorian anthem also speaks of the bloodshed in their battle for freedom from the Spanish. But where the last strophe the Bolivians sing is some kamikaze-threat to anyone who dares attempt to enslave them, the Ecuadorians speak of the beauty in the face of their nation and how it is greater even than the sun that shines so bright. I thought that was absolutely lovely!

 

I think if I would have to name one thing the Bolivians tend to chronically lack, it is optimism. They go through their daily struggles and have resigned to being confined to their fate and never being able to do anything about it. I wonder if the Ecuadorians will be different in the same way their national anthem is.

Has any of you got any experiences on this respect you’d like to share?