Ecuador! Part One

It’s been a little while since my last post, because I was on vacation! The nine days we spent in Ecuador were amazing. Exploring a new country is always fun, but it was especially cool to see the place where my boyfriend grew up. Here’s what went down.

We arrived late on a Thursday night and spent the first couple of days hanging out with Xavier’s family. On Friday, we attended a family banquet held in honor of his cousin’s wedding. It was a really fun day, and very cool to meet everyone. We feasted on fanesca, a delicious soup that’s only made in the week prior to Easter. It’s made with twelve kinds of grains and beans. Served with plaintains and hard-boiled eggs, it’s incredibly rich. I could have consumed a gallon, but stuck to a single bowl as per everyone’s advice. Apparently it’s so rich it will make you sick. Once we were full, the family members picked up various musical instruments. Between toasts to the happy couple, everyone sang and danced for hours. This was incredibly different from any gathering my own family has ever had, and I loved it.

In between songs, a few of us managed to sneak onto the roof and check out the view of Quito.

Quito in the valley between mountains
Burglar protection

Many homes that I saw in Ecuador are protected from potential robbers by broken glass, fixed by concrete onto the exterior walls and gates. Others have barbed wire or electric fences, but those lack the visual intrigue that I found in the glass.

Come Saturday, it was time to primp: we had a wedding to attend! In preparation, four of us ladies spent the day getting our nails and hair done. It was fun to be pampered, even if the manicurist scoffed at my chewed-up fingernails and rock-toughened skin.

The wedding itself was another awesome experience. None of my close friends are married (although some are engaged – come on, guys, hurry up and plan so we can party!) and I haven’t been to many weddings, but this was definitely something special. The couple held their ceremony in a beautiful church located in colonial Quito: Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus.

Interior of the church- via Google images
Although the ceremony was conducted mostly in Spanish, and being a cultural Jew/current atheist I had no idea when to stand up or make various hand gestures, it was very nice. There aren’t any photographs of the evening – we left the camera in the car in our rush to church (wow, “rush to church” is a word combination that I never anticipated finding its way to my blog). Even without photographic evidence, I can categorically state that the party was amazing. From church, the wedding party in its finery walked through the Calles de las Sietes Cruces to the reception hall, eliciting stares and attention from passersby.
Via Google Images
After we arrived, we enjoyed delicious food and tons of champagne before literally dancing the entire night away. Although I’m not much of a dancer, it was hard to resist the Latin beats. A group of dancers in full costume and makeup arrived to pass out feather boas and glittery accessories. It was really a blast. If I ever get married, I want a party in Quito just like that one. Que vivan los casados!
On Sunday morning, we woke up early and set out on a road trip to Ibarra, a town in northern Ecuador. I had really wanted to see it because Xavier had many fond memories of going there as a child. On the way, we made a few stops to snack, take in the scenery, and shop local markets. We stopped as we crossed over the equator, pausing to take a couple of photos at the simple monument.
Modest equator monument
One of the stops we made was in Otavalo, which hosts a beautiful outdoor market featuring tons of hand-crafted goods. You could buy any number of hand-crafted goods.
Outdoor market at Otavalo
Fabrics at Otavalo
Stuffed animals at Otavalo
We also stopped at San Antonio de Ibarra, a little town known for its woodworking. Although we saw some beautiful artwork there, my favorite aspect of the town was its beauty. Whether you looked down the streets or behind the buildings, gorgeous cloud-draped mountains framed the entire town.

Streets of San Antonio de Ibarra
Town square of San Antonio de Ibarra
After lots of wonderful meandering, we found our way to Ibarra. Xavier’s dad said that he thinks Ibarra is the most beautiful city in the world. With its cobblestone streets, Spanish architecture, and mountain-studded backdrop, I just might be inclined to agree with him.

A look down a street in Ibarra
Roofs of Ibarra
We also ate a lot of interesting foods on this day trip – a post is soon to follow about our edible adventures, and their aftermath.
All photos are mine unless otherwise noted!
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3 thoughts on “Ecuador! Part One

  1. J.K.

    There are about 2000 pictures total – I promise you'll see more soon, or check Facebook 🙂 I am still bummed about missing your wedding 😦 We would have gone had it been at all possible, trust me. Hopefully someday soon we will all be able to go there together!

    Reply

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