Thursday, October 8, 2015

Immersed In The Andean Culture......And Food

Today we hopped on a bus and headed into the center of Ambato to do some exploring.  Immediately we became immersed in the culture as the sounds, smells and vibe of the city encircled us. Our white faces glowed like light bulbs amidst a flood of orange-brown colored skin tones of The Andean peoples. Ecuador is full of indigenous people that have lived here for thousands of years and still today make up most of the population.  It's easy to spot them with their felt hats, scarves, wool poncho's and layers upon layers of clothing.

The People Of Ecuador

This Little Girl Climbed Up On A Park Bench Next To Me

Notice The Layers

They're All So Different

Young People

Notice The Dark Leathery Skin

Mama Walks Son Home From School

A Nun

School Kids In Uniform

Since Ecuador sits directly on the equator it has one of the highest UV indexes in the world, when the sun is out in full force.  Because of this the Andean people have dark leathery skin making them appear older than they probably are. Unfortunately for us though we haven't seen much of the sun since we've been here, which would help to warm things up more.

Mama, Child & A Pail Of Something

Mosaic Artwork And View Of City Housing

More Colorful People

A Cute Little Girl

Making Money Selling Stuff

Sweat Suits Are Everywhere Here

Could He Be A Doctor?

More Different Attire

Our first stop of the day was a large market place that sells a variety of foods, produce, meat, fish and more. As lunch time was approaching I was on the lookout for some llapingacho's a common local food that we just had to try.

Entrance To Mercado

Shrine To Divine Nino Inside Mercado


Produce....They Grow Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Peaches, Bananas
Apples......And So Much More

It Goes On And On.....

Chickens Hanging Out To Dry Or Drain?

Ladies Chillin'

Fish  Market In Mercado

Street Vendor Selling Ensalada De Fruita......Fruit Salad Topped With Cream
For Only $1.00

Look At The Size Of This Thing
Watermelon, Papaya, Pineapple, Kiwi, Strawberries, Blueberries, Grapes

Llapingacho's are fried mashed potato patties stuffed with cheese and topped with a fried egg. This common lunch time favorite actually originated right here in the city of Ambato, Ecuador but is eaten throughout the country.  They were smooth and creamy mashed potatoes on the inside but slightly crunchy on the outside.  Alongside there was a cut up sausage link on one side and a salad of lettuce, tomato and onions topped off with an avocado on the other side. The whole meal was priced right at $2.50 and was there plenty for us both to share.  To drink we enjoyed an all natural batido, similar to a milk shake but made only with pure natural juice.  We choose pineapple and shared that too for the low price of just $1.  After enjoying this yummy meal we headed out onto the street to do some more exploring. I noticed a girl walk by carrying a tray of something that looked tasty.  She had large bowls filled with cut up fruit (ensalada de fruita) or fruit salad topped with a squirt of whipped cream for only $1.  Again we bought one to share and barely ate half since the bowl was so loaded.

An Ecuadorian Favorite

Llapingachos Topped With Fried Egg, Salad, Sausage & Avacado
All For $2.50

Fresh Fruit Juices And Batidos

This Is Only ONE Batido.....They Brought Us The Extra
All For $1.00

The city of Ambato is NOT touristy at all since there's nothing really special to see here, just life as normal.  Because of this everywhere we went the locals noticed Clyde and his big camera snapping photos.  Occasionally people would come up to us and shake our hand or touch our arm, as if WE were an unusual site to behold.......being.....GRINGOS!  At one point we were sitting on a park bench watching people go by when a gentlemen passed by and asked if we spoke Italian?  Clyde told him in Spanish that we only speak English and Spanish.  The man said, "oh English," and said, "see you tomorrow," proudly practicing what few words he knew of the English language. A while later we bumped into the man again with his friends around him.  We heard shouts of, "hello," and "see you later," proclaimed loudly among the chorus of Spanish being spoken all around.  Perhaps this was their tiny way of connecting to us, joining the two cultures together if only for a few minutes.

Andean Couple Selling Stuff And Snoozing

These Are Made Out Of Flowers

Large Flower Market

Plumbers Supplies

Notice How Tiny This Andean Woman Is

More Matching Sweat Suits Are Part Of School Uniforms

Next we set out to find Parque de los Enamorados which in English is Park of The Valentine. Since we had no idea where it was we just hailed a cab, jumped inside and told the driver we wanted to go there.  For around $1.25 we were dropped off in front of the park entrance.  Once we entered through it's green, sculptured archways we were transformed into another world of horticultural delight.  We strolled through it's romantic pathways, hidden tunnels of love and carved cypress masterpieces. The loveliness and tranquility of this magical park were a delight to our senses and offered up some great views of the city also.

Park Of The Valentines

Entrance To Park....Mickey On A Train

Guitar Player

 Romantic Heart

Carved Into A Wall Of Flowers

Drummer Boys

Bent Trees And Shaped Shrubs

Love Birds?

An Owl Or Bunny?


 Juan Benigno Vela Park
The Pool Is Almost Empty But That Didn't Stop These Kids From Jumping In
In Their Underwear With Parents Approval.....And That Water Must Be Frigid

Once we tired out from too much exploring we simply hopped into another cab and told them we needed to go to Parque de la Cantera, a large cement skate board type of park very close to where we're staying. Back at the casa we took a rest, viewed our photos of the day and jotted it down in blog format to share with the world. We warmed up nicely today as the sun peeked out for a while causing us to take our jackets off and enjoy the nice 72 degree temperatures. But being on the equator the days are a constant 12-hours and by 6:30 the sun will be setting and the temps will be cooling off again. After another romp in the park with Jethro we'll eat some dinner and settle in for the night under some warm blankets on the couch. 

 A View From Parque La Cantera

Parque La Cantera.....A Skateboard Park

Neighborhood Around The Park

Jethro Found A Few Playmates In The Park

Views From Around The Park
 Wonder Where This Goes?
A Slide Of Course

A Cement Slide......I Was Barely Moving

Jethro's Mommy Introduced To This Local Lady
She's Making Fries That We Just Had To Experience

Fries With Mayo & Salsa On Top, Some Sliced Onions & A Few Sausage Pieces Too
All For $1.....Sounds Yukky But It Really Was Good!

Until tomorrow when we see where our paths will take us out once again in Ecuador.....along the gringo trail.

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