May 3, 2007

sweating at the equator

Whew! Can I just say that equatorial areas are frickin HOT?! We're back from getting the visa in Machala, Ecuador, and I'm SO glad to be chilly and working on my knitting again. I can spread it across my lap and keep myself warm as I work on it. I took my knitting to Ecuador, but couldn't bear to have it anywhere near me without a fan going full speed ahead.

We left on Tuesday morning for Tumbes, Peru. Omar's mom lives near Tumbes, and Omar grew up there. As we took a taxi from the Tumbes airport, he told me some about growing up there and I could tell that he was feeling sentimental about the whole place.

That was before the flies invaded and the heat overcame our brains.

We arrived in the city about 1 pm, and met Omar's mother in the Plaza de Armas (located in the center of the city). She hadn't eaten yet, and suggested that we find a good place for lunch. She took us to a fabulously expensive tourist restaurant. I suspect that she'd wanted to try the place for a while, but couldn't afford to, so we treated her to lunch. The place was packed and it took quite a while for our food to arrive at the table. We ordered two large dishes: ceviche de pescado and fried rice with a variety of seafoods mixed in. I liked the ceviche much better in Tumbes than I do in Lima. I'm not sure what it is...the fish was a different variety than what is normally served in Lima, and reacted differently to the lime juice. I didn't have the feeling that I was eating completely raw fish. It "cooked" better in the lime and I loved it. The rice was great, too. But it all cost more than I had planned for, and blew my food budget for the trip.

After lunch, Omar's mom went back to her family's home. Omar and I got tired of sweating rivers, and found a hostel with a fan in the room. It was clean and had a fan. Those two things were the only prerequisites that we had. The room came with a lamp that didn't work, windows that didn't open, one electrical outlet in the far corner of the room where the fan was located, and a sign on the bathroom door with an appeal not to pee in the shower. The heat was exhausting, so we tried to sleep for a couple of hours. We were back out on the street about 7 pm, looking for a place to eat.

Omar's mom had recommended a place that was just across the plaza from our hostel, so we went there to eat. Ummm...the flies weren't bad on the tables that didn't have food on them, so basically, it looked promising. We sat down and ordered cabrito with rice and a pitcher of chicha morada (a beverage made from purple corn). Our food arrived very quickly, and just as quickly, the flies came with it. The forks and knives were housed in a plastic dome-like outfit to keep the flies away. If I see that again somewhere, I'll be forewarned that flies are expected visitors at the table. The napkins were actually 4 x 4 squares of butcher paper, so I took some of them and covered the pitcher and the drinking glasses, to keep the flies from falling into the drinks. Dinner was actually goat meat, roasted and served with seasoned rice and something like a cold gravy that turned out to be more greasy than I liked, so I let that stay on the plate. I was so hot and was sweating so much that I don't remember what it all tasted like, but apparently it wasn't inedible, because I emptied most of my plate.

We walked around the plaza a few more times, looking for a place to buy toothbrushes, since I couldn't find ours. Our duffel bag seemed to somehow developed an appetite for them, since ours were no where to be found. The heat got to us, so we headed back to our hostel to sleep.

The next morning, we were both paying for eating cheap, but luckily, it passed before we crossed the border into Ecuador.

We passed into Ecuador by way of Aguas Verdes and Huaquillas cities. On the Peruvian side, huge amounts of farm produce is imported into Ecuador....I saw mountains of onions being loaded onto hand carts to be pushed across the border. On the Ecuadorian side, the market or electronics and clothing is just as huge. The streets are packed with vendors' stalls, big umbrellas to block the sun out, and elbow to elbow buyers. It's a noisy, boisterous place, and if crowds aren't your thing, this isn't your kind of place. You can get a little bit of an idea how this is here.

Ecuador does all its business in US dollars only. They have their own centavos, but accept American coins also. So, it's a more expensive place than Peru. I thought that Ecuador would be cheaper than Peru, since it's economy isn't as strong as Peru's, but it's not so. Maybe the presence of the dollar as the main form of currency raises the price of everything. I don't know for sure, but that's what I suspect.

All in all, it was a fun trip. Ecuador seems more Americanized to me than Peru. i got the visa in Machala without a hitch. The only real inconvenience tht resulted from the whole thing is that Celeste had to stay with relatives while we were gone. She came home thinking that she could climb on the furniture, chew up shoes, and had a good case of Los Olivos fleas. They seem to be more vicious in their biting techniques than those in Jesus Maria. She was crying as she scratched herself, and today she had the first bath that she actually screaming whatsoever. Her only complaint was when she grabbed one of my sandals, the other sandal immediately slapped her up the side of the head. I hate it when that happens.


LisaCatherine said...

What a journey... I cring at the idea of flies on everything, Kabul was like that and the market place sure didn't make you want buy and eat anything there !! Ewww.

I love the way you linked to pictures and those are great. I miss markets like that, the people waiting for something fresh and not canned. Those are great memories for me.

Would you like me to buy some flea collars and send them to you for Celeste ?? I hate that you have so much trouble with them there, it must be just horrid for all of you.

I'm glad your home now... I've missed reading your amazing adventures my friend. HUGS Lisa Catherine

Rani said...

Tee hee - those nasty sandals ;-)

More pictures!!! I can travel vicariously through your journaling - but pictures are so fun. The market looks like quite the adventure.