I am Takanori Chiwata, the chocolate engineer of COCONAMA CHOCOLATE.
From now on I would like to talk about the Ecuador trip I had the chance to take the other day. I want to make these posts like my travel journal, so excuse my broken English!
This time is the topic from my wife Kayoko.
As we mentioned before, Quito is located at the altitude 2800m, and is the capital city of Ecuador. This city is pretty cold. Despite the fact that we came during the summer, it was colder than Vancouver. Wearing long sleeve stops was a must. Some people say that they have a spring climate all year round, so it is nice living there. Throughout the year,their temperature is around 20°C, the sun rises at 6:00am, and the sun sets around 6:00pm. Their weather doesn’t change much, and their daylight hours as well. I wonder how do these factors affect their life and culture? Well, let’s leave aside those questions for now.
We had the chance to wander around the city, so we would like to share some of our Quito episode(taking a break from chocolate related stuff).
This district existed at an even higher altitude. I don’t exactly remember, but I believe it was higher than 3000m (Yes, I only found out you can check the altitude you are at on you compass app after we visited the city ). It was quite surprising how the difference in 300m altitude (from where we were staying) can affect you. Our breathes were out and we had headaches just by walking 1 block. At that point we weren’t too sure if we had altitude sickness or if we felt sick for some other reason. Well, at times like that it’s best not to worry about it, so off we continued with our tour.
There were few places that were serving coca teas, that were probably for those altitude sickness sufferers. It is quite regretful how we were too exhausted to try them, or even take photos of them.
While we were in search for our meeting point, we saw these people known as “tourism police”, who shows you the way to your destination and stuff… I don’t even know how many of them we asked the way to our meeting point. Our guide, Monica, was asking our way there countless times to different tourism police. When I asked her why she would ask so many times, her reply was simple, “I can’t trust them”. We repeated this cycle: 1.I google map the route the tourism police told us 2. turns out to be wrong 3.Monica asks a different tourism police. We ended up going around 2 or 3 blocks in circles. Although, I do agree with Monica. You ask 3 different tourism police, and you will have 3 completely different answers.
When you speak of sightseeing areas in a developing country, you imagine street vendors. I’m sure all of you have seen it when you were travelling somewhere too. In Quito, we had people sell us mandarine while we waited for the street lights to change, and for some reason, baby wipes and grater in the middle of this old city district.
Now that I’m writing all these events, I’m really regretting that I didn’t take photos of them, but at that time, I really couldn’t do anything because of my headache.
Shown below is “Enpanda”. Apparently, this is a popular food at the tourist spot, and we had many vendors trying to talk us into buying this. It was like a deep fried dumpling that’s bigger than a face. Some were empty, and some had cheese and stuff in them. It was just the right amount of portion when shared among two people. We had a drink called “Canelazo”, which is a popular hot drink among Ecuador’s high altitude regions. It was a warm orange juice along with spices, such as cinnamon and star anise(They had alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of it). It was like a relaxant to my exhausted body. After we enjoyed our meal, we headed back to our hotel by bus. As the bus went down the hill, I could feel my headache getting better and better. No wonder why people living up there had such an amazing stamina….
A huge craft market, or maybe just a market. Within the 100+ vendors we saw, they sold: scarves of alpaca wool, jewelries made of seeds, panama hats, t-shirts of that resort, keyholders of alpacas, and etc. They weren’t super expensive or anything, but the locals warned us to never buy them at its original price, so I guess they do mark them for tourist prices. What caught my attention was a red bracelet that was $1.00. Apparently, it protects you from jealousy from others. We saw some local people wearing them, and it felt nice to see those people wearing them naturally. As a Japanese, I have this concept that jealousy is something that is not all that favourable. Seeing these people who admit their jealousy (I heard that Ecuadorians gets quite jealous), however, made me think how open minded they are to accept their unfavourable emotions like that. I bought this, but without having the chance to wear it, it’s just sleeping in my jewelry box right now… If you are interested, please contact me via our website (lol).
This was a grocery market, which is popular among the locals as well. It was like a bigger version of Granville Island’s Public Market. They had vegetables, spices, rice, eggs, general goods, and even food court! They sold fertilized eggs super naturally…
As expected of fruits kingdom, the fruit section was super colourful, had many fruits we’ve never seen before, and they even had cacao pods for $4.00. I had the urge to just eat every single fruit I’ve never seen, but all I could do was watch, as our trip was nearing the end and my stomach was upset with me.
We had a dish that’s famous in Ecuador for lunch: a whole roasted pork. The store and its gloves had matching colours. It could be coincidence, but that’s a smart way to leave an impression.
They even let you have samples too. The taste wise, it was pretty good; juicy and didn’t reek of pork at all.
What surprised me the most in Quito was the way their crescent moon was facing! I screamed in the middle of the street at night because of this! I live in the northern hemisphere, but not once have I seen a moon like this before!! I thought the moon wanes/gets full from side to side, but apparently it does that top to bottom in this region.
Let’s call it a day now. See you all on our next post.
With hopes that you will be able to encounter the perfect chocolate just for you,