Monday, October 12, 2015

Mingling With The Locals......In Ambato, Ecuador

Today it was first things first as we headed over to the park for our morning walk with Jethro the dog.  After feeding him breakfast we headed out to checkout a local gym and pump some iron. Although there are two gyms nearby our home sit apartment, our hosts said that one was nicer than the other so we went to find that one. We found a place called Body Health Gym and Fitness Center that sold us a day pass for just $3 each. Despite the sign being all in English we found no one inside that spoke any, but we managed just fine.  After paying our fees the female receptionist showed us around with a tour of all three levels of equipment.  It turned out to be a very nice place with plenty of brand new cardio, strength training and other equipment all housed in a very clean, well kept place. It even offered showers and lockers for safe keeping of all the stuff.

Graphics At The Local Park

 

 Jethro Enjoying The Park
 


After that we headed to our temporary home for some lunch before heading out for some adventures.  Clyde had wanted to head over to Mercado of the Americas, which we heard was a large market with a variety of things.  What we found was nothing more than produce, clothing, electronics all inside a rather rustic looking, not so clean looking building.

Mercado of the Americas



Andean Lady Selling Stuff Outside

Local Woman Carrying Plants On Her Back
 


So we quickly got out of there and jumped in another taxi to find Parque Juan Montalvo.  The city of Ambato has several nicknames one of which is, "the city of three Juans."  Juan Montalvo was a well known essayist and author who must have been highly regarded by Ambateños.  Here there is a park, museum and house that pay homage to the famous writer. For the full story of who he was click on the link below.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Montalvo

Parque Juan Montalvo

Statue of Juan Montalvo



Pretty Flowering Trees


Where There's A Fountain......There's Pigeons




Since we're in Ambato we just had to go check out the park that bears his name along with the museum.  The "quinta" or country house in which he lived was closed to the public today, so we'll try to visit that another time. But the park was lovely with tree lined walkways, pretty flowers and plenty of people to watch as we sat and chilled out a while.

Upon entering the park we were approached by a man carrying a brief case. He was wearing a red polo shirt with black slacks and asked if we spoke English? We said yes and explained that we are visiting here and do speak some Spanish since we live in Panama.  He was intrigued and said that he likes English and is trying to learn.  So I suggested that we would practice our Spanish and he could practice his English.  Then he went on to say, "I am starving," which I figured meant that he was looking for a hand out of money.  Clyde said, "no, he's practicing English."  Then the man goes into his briefcase and pulls out a notebook with phrases written in English.  He begins to practice on us saying things like:  you gotta get up, where you going, how you gonna get there, damn it and other phrases which included slang terms. We helped him pronounce them and explained that some of these were not proper English. This went on for maybe ten to fifteen minutes and frankly was getting old, but we played along.  Eventually the man had enough, shook our hands and said in English," it was nice to meet you," and went on his merry way.  Another strange little encounter with a local who perhaps now knows just a bit more English because of us.

Juan Montalvo Museum

Nearby Cathedral



Inside The Cathedral

Wax Figure Of Juan Montalvo Inside Museum






Crypt Of Juan Montalvo

His Original Coffin

Pen And Ink Jar Signifies His Writings
 
Cathedral From Outside


 


From there we hopped into another taxi for a ride back to the apartment.  Along the way we stopped at a nearby "tienda" or small store to pick up a few things.  While checking out I asked the cashier if they happened to have baking soda?  She said no that it was only allowed to be sold in the boutiques.  Really?  We questioned? What did they consider a boutique here and where was such a place?  Perhaps she didn't understand what I was asking for as I mentioned "bicarbonato de sodio?" So to clear things up I began explaining in Spanish that we needed some to get rid of bad smells like the smells in my husbands shoes.......from his stinky feet.  By this time the cashier and her helper were laughing as she came around to the front of her register to look at Clyde's feet.  As if she could tell his shoes smelled just by looking at them? Of course Clyde was not to happy with me for revealing this story to complete strangers, but in the long run it was a funny way to connect with the locals despite what Clyde thought.

Milk Comes In Bags Here
 
 
 


After bringing the groceries back to the apartment and going for another walk with Jethro we headed out for dinner.  Earlier in the day when we stopped in a local bakery Clyde asked the clerk if there were any restaurants nearby.  She said, "si" and pointed out a place nearby called El Gaucho.  It was close enough to the apartment to walk to this "parrillada" or barbeque joint that was decorated with a western theme. We were the only customers in the place and were very impressed with the service and amount of food. At first glance the menu was a bit pricey for the area so we decided to order just one meal to share.  Clyde chose a "mixed pollo" grill which strangely enough included a chicken breast filet, one large pork chop and one sausage. Along with all that meat it came with fries, a large salad, mixed vegetables and was served with garlic bread. To add to the calories we ordered a half pitcher of sangria. Thankfully we only ordered one meal to share since we both left stuffed and brought home the leftovers for Jethro who ate rather well tonight.

Restaurant Where We Had Dinner


Half Jar Of Sangria




Back at the apartment we're both tired from a long day of running around, working out and walking up and down the hilly streets of Ambato, Ecuador......along the gringo trail.

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