Manuel Zelaya may be getting closer to returning to his country, where he was ousted as leader of the Honduran Government last month. Things are not going too well, with clashes between the military and Zelaya’s supporters and talks to try and resolve the crisis having collapsed two weeks ago. We wait to see if his ‘moral obligation’ to return can defy the threats of arrest, made by Honduran officials, if he crosses the border from Nicaragua.
Known as Mass of Fire in Quechua and depicted in many Tigua paintings due its cultural significance, Cotopaxi holds a special place in the heart of most serranos (Ecuadorians from the sierra). And after having just gazed at the peak of Cotopaxi for almost 3 months from the comfort of my terrace, it was truly life-reaffirming to be tearing up the flanks of Ecuador’s second highest volcano at 5789m above sea level (19,347 ft), last eruption in 1940.
We came across this mural yesterday. It was painted on the wall of a disused building site, in a non-descript area of town, on a main road, right where you wouldn’t imagine anybody would both to stop and look. It reminded me of an article I read back in May.
I had a choice: I could choose Euro Disney and work in a restaurant 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, wearing a ‘turn of the century’ costume, carrying on my shoulder a tray large enough to take 20 plates, living just a little too far out of Paris so that it would be tantalisingly close but yet realistically too far to fully appreciate; or, I could work for Carisma Holidays and work seven days a week, true, always more or less on call, yes, but wearing nothing but shorts and a bikini everyday, hosting cheese and wine parties and living only 300 metres from the beach on the west coast of France. I was 19 and to me the choice was obvious.
Following my list of observations, here’s one of food I’ve been sampling, regularly :
- Patacones: fried plantain balls with cheese
- Locro: soup with cheese, avocado and potato
- Llapingachos: potato omelette with egg, sauasage and salad
- Bolon de verde: plantain dumplings filled with cheese or chorizo
- Really good fruit: naranjilla (a cross between an orange and a tomato), tomate de arbol(tree tomato), mora (blackberry), guanabana (soursop), maracuya (passion fruit), uvilla (ground cherries), taxo (banana passionfruit) and pitahaya (dragon fruit).
I’ve been looking at Ecuador through refreshed eyes this week. This has been brought on by an effort to rejuvenate my opinions of Quito and its people after feelings of frustration set in. Frustrated with the cafÃ©s which entice you in by advertising 20 different tasty food options on big signboards only to tell, you once you’ve sat down and picked exactly what you want, that the only thing they have is corn, cooked in 15 different ways, but all fried.
Have a butchers at www.tramz.com/ec/q/b1.html; so superior to any description I could have given.
Despite risking permanent disfigurement from my inability to just stop scratching, our trip to El Oriente was unforgettable and well worth the temporary pain. The first leg of the journey was definitely not the highlight: eight hours on an overnight bus with a broken seat, a very loud movie blaring out right above my head, a road that was alternate strips of rumble, sand and tarmac, occasionally. But we woke up in Lago Agrio, where we would start our tour, fairly fresh and eager to see some real Amazonian jungle.
Yesterday we got up at 6am, after arriving back home from the east about midnight, and went to Mindo, a two-hour drive north-west of Quito. There we sampled the delights of the cloudforest, where a high occurance of low-level clouds, resulting in fog drip, creates a wet, cool and very green terrain with an abundance of mosses, orchids and even hummingbirds. It was very beautiful, and a pleasant contrast to the rainforest we’d just come from.
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