Category Archives: Misc
Wondering what to pack for your yoga retreat in the Andes? When you’re ready to buckle down and get it done, check out this video and you’ll be finished in no time. If you take nothing else away from this video, the most important piece of advice I can give for anyone packing for South America is BRING LAYERS. The weather can change hourly here so be a comfy traveler and pack smart.
As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions. Happy Travels!
A lot of people ask us, “why Ecuador” when we talk about places to travel. Most Americans have barely heard of it and and often can’t locate it on a map until we say that Ecuador includes the Galapagos Islands…ah, yes, the light bulb comes on! People have generally heard of these famous islands, know what they’re famous for and usually know their approximate location. Ecuador has so much more to offer than that!
If you read my bio you will see that I initially arrived in Guayaquil looking to get an A+ grade in Spanish 2. Before that, I had little desire to travel to South America and had never heard of Ecuador, let alone the city of Guayaquil. I stayed that first time with a host family and in one short month, I fell in love with this country. Nothing has been the same since. Ecuador is so easy to reach and is such a fantastic experience, words just simply cannot describe it. Despite that fact, I would like to give it a try by sharing just a few reasons why you should come visit this tiny, amazing country.Read more ›
I never thought I would be a person that would be totally comfortable living in big cities. However, as I looked out the window of my apartment tonight on the glowing lights of Quito, I felt this sense of belonging. It makes sense that I feel that way though. I have a community I belong to.
Almost every morning I walk downstairs to the market, and buy two fresh baked pan de quesos and yogurt for less than a dollar. The woman who owns the market is patient, speaks slowly to me, and gently corrects my Spanish, which I greatly appreciate. Not everyone takes the time to communicate with someone who is not fluent. Sometimes, when she is busy with other patrons, her little boy comes out from behind the counter to practice Spanish with me.
There are also places I like to frequent, like Shwarma Kalib, where the owners recognize and warmly welcome me Although, this particular place has been closed the last week. On the up side, Kalib being closed has provided the opportunity for food exploration.
I have discovered places for empanadas and which corners the street food vendors are located. I love me some street food. Especially the ones on kebabs. I would risk stomach maladies again for a tasty frittata.
Quito may be growing on me and I may like what she has to offer.
Canelazo is by far my favorite thing to drink in Quito. Canelazo is a hot drink made with naranjilla and aguardiente an anise flavored liquer. In Ecuador you really have no choice but to get the brand name aguardiente Caña Manabita a 5th comes in at about $3 so your not gonna break the bank getting the good stuff.
Anyway, the best thing to do is goto the Supermaxi or grocery store and by the frozen concentrated naranjilla juice mix. The procedure for producing the mix yourself is just way to time consuming to be vale la pena. Once you’ve made up your naranjilla mix add in about 2-4 cloves, 2-3 sticks of cinnamon and 2-3 heaping tablespoons full of sugar .
Now heat up the mix but be careful. The naranjilla has a tendency to foam up so you have to watch it. Unfortunately you also need to keep the heat going so the cinnamon and clove flavors permeate the mix.
After about an hour on low heat pour the mix into a coffee mug with a shot of your Caña Manabita and take the whole apparatus out to your chilly balcony and enjoy.
Our two week journey towards the equator has finally come to an end although our adventures here are just beginning!
We are so grateful for all of the folks that encouraged and supported us along the way. We left Asheville and its delicious beer behind, crammed the Civic full of our supplies for the next few months and headed towards FL. First stop, Will Rd in Monticello. We used our time to unpack, repack, weigh our luggage and pack again…ate fresh veggies from the garden…had giant slices of pizza with most of my family…slept like rocks in a nice, clean, cool house…and soaked up as much time with my family as we could.
Saturday, my sister Jessi drove us down to Gainesville where Greg’s pal Stewart took over. With the weight of our luggage, his car sagged about 6″ but we made it to Sarasota nonetheless. When we arrived, platters of spinach balls, “crab cracker wedgies”, and deviled eggs awaited us! Greg’s folks welcomed us with open arms and we hung around listening to the boys talk politics and ate even more until we couldn’t keep our eyes open. On mother’s day, Gail cooked us up some more amazing meals although she should have been the one being catered to! The rest of our week in Venice Beach was spent gathering sharks teeth on the beach, taking care of last minute chores and catching up on sleep. Gail dedicated an entire day to running errands with me and we found the perfect suitcase, bought a new digital camera and visited the post office to send off our LLC paperwork. We’re soon to be official!
Thursday, May 17, 2012 we hopped in our rental car at 8am and headed towards MIA. We said goodbye to the flatlands of Alligator Alley, guardrails, hearing predominantly English on the radio, and being able to easily change a $20 bill. We made it to MIA with no issues and after dragging our luggage for what seemed like miles, we arrived in the terminal. After dropping 100lbs of crap each, we floated through security and had one last meal before boarding.
I have to say, LAN airlines is incredible! Our seats weren’t only comfortable but we also had a package containing a pillow and soft blanket awaiting us upon arrival. We each had our own TV screen with tons of movies, shows and games to choose from, free headphones and a hot meal…WITH a complimentary glass of wine! Four short hours later, we started our descent into Quito. After the captain turned off all personal entertainment stations, they played beautiful, soothing music over the speakers and I don’t think any of the passengers said a word as we floated down above a valley full of lights. Quito airport is smack dab in the middle of the city so as we got closer, it looked like we were going to land right on top of the houses below! What a beautiful introduction to this giant city in the Andes!
Once we got off the plane, forget the soothing music and gentle descent! We found ourselves in a chaotic mass of people shoving for their luggage and rushing towards customs. Thank goodness for Greg! He was in charge of snagging our weighty luggage from the belt and all I had to do was guard it (although I don’t think anyone could have quickly absconded with our bags as they weighed almost as much as me!). In customs, we were chosen to have our luggage re-examined (lucky us ;p) but luckily the process didn’t take too long and before we knew it, there was Edu greeting us with a “Mr Markowski” sign and a corn cob wearing the Ecuadorian flag as a shawl. Hilarious. After a bit of shuffling, the boys had the luggage tucked away and off we went to Edu’s! My first impression of the city was that it looked dark, threatening and a bit grimey but G wisely said to hold judgement until I could see it in the daylight (I’m glad I did but more about that later!).
Edu’s aparment is on the 7th floor of an 8-story building and the views are incredible! I could see the city lights climbing the volcano and then pure darkness beyond. Edu fed us, helped us settle in and we all passed out quickly with the sounds of the city droning on below us.
We have arrived!
Today began as a real disappointment. I have been dreaming of cold cooked shrimp soup for months now and instead I had to desayunar on some scrambled up junk and juice that Nicole made. That being no matter we ran around the city searching for places to free our U.S. bought cell phones from their corporate masters. No luck as of yet but I’m sure this catching Quiteño will do the trick, this guy is dying to fix your cell phone for Porta.
We did get a chance to go to the Old Town area and see the rather fetching Matt Mitchell and his baby and bride this afternoon. Although Matt didn’t offer me a beer, he did tip me off to a group of nurses that are to be staying at his place, Hostel Revolution this week. Unfortunately when I apprised her of the situation Nicole gave me this nasty look.
We did end the day with some delicious Shawarma Kalib. mmmmmm Kalib that guy can make some gut wrenching (sp?) fair.