Tales from the road
The view from Quito: reflecting & confecting
We're delighted to be able to share with you this lovely update from Estéban - our very popular guide in Quito. We hope you enjoy his insights and if you're inspired to try dipping whatever exotic fruits you have lying around the house into melted dark chocolate, we can only encourage you to do so. Life's too short not to, frankly.
By: Esteban Romero, Quito
A few days ago, us Ecuadorians reached 75 days under confinement. For me, it also marked 79 days since my last day of guiding.
I really miss being able to discover new places with my guests. But this time has given me a moment to pause and reflect and be grateful for the experiences I have had as a guide. So I want to express, from my warm room, which is equivalent to the bottom of my heart, that I miss my guests. This is why I decided to entitle this article Yesterday, originally the idea of the Ministery of Tourism of Ecuador. But it's not because I am nostalgic about the past. Maybe the video says it best.
“I will retrace my steps to that place, that feeling, that made me so happy, that I valued so little... Now I know more than I ever did, yesterday”.
Kindly, some of my former guests have written to me recently to see how we are doing in Ecuador. The confinement is very calm here in Quito, I told them. Some quiteños have even witnessed condors and spectacled bears in the green belt of the Pichincha Mountain to the west of the city. That these creatures are enjoying their freedom and the fresh breezes, both fills my with a feeling of tranquility and indicates that dry weather is coming.
The feeling of freedom in the skies
I remember a young couple who travelled with Pura Aventura recently. She was from Hong Kong and he from Germany. They were the first people I ever took for a walk inside a feria libre - an fruit and vegetable market full of colour and noise and life. Of course, I love showing the special churches and colonial architecture that we are lucky to have preserved so well in Quito. And I love sharing the amazing views over the city from the Panecillo Hill. But it shows another side of the city if you can go to these sorts of markets and connect the guests with local people.
Sometimes you don't need to follow a programme when walking around Quito. I remember very well a peaceful morning with other guests, when we decided to simply follow our steps around colonial Quito without a clear direction and the whole time enjoying a very interesting conversation.
I miss these sorts of everyday scenes from Quito
Another experience I will always remember took me out of the city to the Cotopaxi National Park. This is the park that is on the slopes of the famous snow-covered volcano, roamed by horses and llama. It's a true symbol of Ecuador - I am sure you will have seen it. On this morning, when trying to use some branches from a tree to cross an unexpected water canal, we found a delicate bird's nest hidden out of the view of the visitors.
I can categorically sat that I haven't sat still during these times of lockdown. I finally introduced my family members to the award-winning Ecuadorian wine Dos Hemisferios, having recommended it to my clients for so long. To go with that I have been cooking and trying new recipes, perfecting a peanut and tree tomato hot sauce used for dressing fried plantain or morocho (high altitude corn dough).
Introducing my guests to my favourite Ecuadorian wine
The best innovation came thanks to the continuous availability of fresh fruits in the many garages around the neighborhood, organised by locals to avoiding us having to walk to the markets. Usually destined for juices, my invention was to sink blackberry, gooseberry, passionfruit and banana into melted PACARI dark premium chocolate - considered the best dark organic chocolate in the world. So now our longer than usual post meal conversations also spread a perfume of roses, my favourite flavor of chocolate.
Instead of watching TV I have lost myself in my true passion of reading. Only thanks to the confinement, I finished a very high pile of them on my desk - 9 books completed. Some journalists’ friends gave me top suggestions about authors, like Jane Austen (Emma, 1815) or the Brazilian Clarice Linspector (El Aprendizaje, 1969). Also in my plans is the Amazon adventure from Robert Whitaker The Mapmaker’s wife (2004) - a gift of one of my guests.
I also dusted off my school old English books, started practicing my German and I will soon learn Latin. In how many languages I will be able to say “welcome to Ecuador” when we will together again?
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