I have to confess I am totes jelly about this adventure that my good friend Pauly, his lovely lady friend Lauren, and their friends Carla da Bruce and G-Money, have embarked on. I am excited though, like his own mother, to receive these photos and words documenting said adventure. This is the beginning… Grazza
The South American Quest Part 1 – Quito should have been called Queso
If you have being paying any attention to my scribbling’s over the last few years then you would know we’ve been planning a South American adventure. This insane trip consists of 8 weeks, 6 countries, 4 friends (me included) and of course the World cup. Our trip ticks so many bucket list items, from Machu Pichhu to Iguassu Falls, we will endeavor to traverse this magnificent continent taking in all of the glorious food and hospitality each place offers, then I shall convert said adventures into a page of words for your eyes to read, your brain to take in, and your heart to hate us and be filled with jealousy.
Within minutes of arriving at our hotel we hit up the 24 hour restaurant. I tried a local dish called Churrasco which is essentially steak with cooked peppers (capsicum) topped with a fried egg served with rice, chips and a side of avocado, lettuce & tomato… this is all familiar yet different than anything I’d eaten before, it may have been the fact that chips and rice aren’t seen that much together, but it worked. The chips were freshly made, the rice was buttered up to the max and the steak was delicious, all in all I feel we should adopt this dish and make it our own. Lauren and Carla had a black rice risotto with prawns, flavour packed rice with massive prawns which actually had taste, G-money went for another rice dish called shrimp rice, which as you can imagine was made up of shrimps, rice and spices. Simple yet delicious was a great way to explain everything brought to the table. We finished off by the consuming of several vodka’s with fresh limejuice, then bed was beckoning.
It’s now morning and I’m currently sitting in our hotel room in Quito (Ecuador) looking out onto a street filled with people on bikes riding past a bevy of artists selling there wares, this scene all framed by the hills that make up this city. Quito is the highest capital city in the world, this doesn’t mean they are all stoned to pieces, no it refers to the level above sea level, and somehow even though it’s a city, it still has that mountain village vibe about it. We are going today to explore this city and see what local fare they have to offer, so far as I can make out, they have a penchant for beef with cheese in many forms, so I have a sneaky suspicion we are all going to get along just fine.
What was left of the morning was spent cruising around the park opposite our hotel, I had endeavored before this trip started to not look too much like a tourist, this aim was definitely not achieved. This realization came quickly as we stepped out onto the street, I had hiking clothes on with a backpack and a camera around my neck… what the fuck was I thinking, if you were to go to a god damn fancy dress party as a tourist then my outfit would be what you want. G-money my travelling companion was equally tourist like in his attire, whilst the girls (Carla da Bruce & Lauren) were a lot more casually dressed, the only thing not going in their favour was Carla’s red hair and Laurens height, two things Ecuadorian ladies are not, are tall with red hair. But I figured unless I shrunk 2 feet, parted my hair and wore a poncho, I wasn’t ever going to look like a local.
Sunday is the day where the park is filled with life, food carts, markets stalls and music. If you are after silly looking beanies then this is the place for you. Yes, there may have been a panpipe or two for sale but of the most part it was knitwear as far as the eye could see. Locals here seemed to be as much in the holiday spirit as we were, smiles seem to be a default setting for the Ecuadorian’s face which is brilliant right up to the point when then cut out your kidney (this hasn’t happened as yet).
Next up was a quick trip to the middle of the earth, not to be confused with middle earth… although they are very similar with lots of short stocky people, but they were wearing shoes so I couldn’t check how hairy their feet were… its called the middle of the earth as it is directly on the equator, but latitude aside it was an awesome place to visit on a Sunday afternoon, as bands were entertaining the masses whilst the hombre’s drank cerveza the mujer’s drank sangria and we all ate empanadas… the empanadas came in many forms, we opted for the cheese empanadas and beef and cheese empanadas, they like any food you think you know because you’ve tried them at the local Mexican or Spanish restaurant, were simpler than the aussie version yet spectacular in their simplicity. It may be the romance of eating them at 2500m above sea level whilst cradling the equator, but regardless of why we loved them, we really did savor every bit of the moment and have arrived back at the hotel with a general feeling that our love for this place is growing with every moment spent here.