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South America » Ecuador » North » Ibarra
November 5th 2007
Published: November 8th 2007
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Surprise


I suppose it's too late to wish everyone a happy Hallowe'en. I believe they celebrate Hallowe'en here in Ecuador, just a different way. The coastal region has vacation the whole week of Hallowe'en and celebrates with fiestas, costume parties, stuff like that. I'm not sure about trick-or-treating here, I didn't see anyone going around asking for candy. The problem is that it's too dangerous at night here for little kids to go walking around by themselves. Also, all houses that you'd go to to get candy are surrounded by walls. I doubt anyone would answer the door to hand out candy. However, I was in Ibarra during Hallowe'en and it's in the sierra region of Ecuador. They had school until Friday the week of Hallowe'en, therefore, the parties are the weekend before and the weekend after for the highschoolers. College students and adults might still celebrate at discotechs, I think I could have gone to one with the friend I stayed with (his mom asked why we didn't actually), but he had school the next day, and it would have been just us I think. We stayed at his house, watched 300.

Ibarra is a pretty large city
Black Mountain SideBlack Mountain SideBlack Mountain Side

Such a good instrumental piece...it was a really perfect day for that song. I think I'm turning into a Led Head.
that's about a 12-14 hour trip from Portoviejo depending on how fast the bus drivers are. I actually got lucky last time and only had a 12 hour trip, surprised me because the time before it was 14-15. It's about an 8-9 hour trip to Quito, and then, catching on of those "departing every ten minutes" buses at the Terminal Terrestre it's another 2-3 hours. More if the traffic's bad.

Oh, before I begin on my trip to Ibarra, last weekend I went to the Manta military base for a bull festival. The best way to describe it is: A bunch of drunken Ecuatoriano guys running around waving towels at a bull in a wooden pen. Entertaining...a bit dangerous too. That was for a few hours, then everyone stayed after for a fiesta at the base. I was there all day until about 2 in the morning. It was a blast. We ended up going to the dorms of the military guys at night. There was some dancing, hanging out, talking, I made quite a few friends there. Then, a few of the guys decided to go into town to a discotech, but, at that time I had to
Tall TalesTall TalesTall Tales

I was told that this lake is so deep, that if you swim out into the center, you get sucked down to the bottom. Ecuatoriano tall tales.
go back to Portoviejo. Quite a lot of fun though.

Ibarra is probably my favorite town in Ecuador. It's larger than it's given credit for, though like all of Ecuador, you randomly run into people you know everywhere. The scenery in Ecuador is beautiful. That's what I really like about bus rides, I can just stare out the window and there'll always be something interesting to look at. The bus ride from Quito to Ibarra goes through some pretty arid mountains that remind me a lot of Southern California when we drove to the desert from San Diego. Then, once you get nearer to Ibarra, things get more fertile and it's all huge mountains that look like they're painted in a plaid style. Different shades of green, brown, yellow, cut into squares by hedge fences. Really beautiful to look from one mountain to another, there's farms from the valley all the way up. And then, there's also the coniferous and deciduous forests that cover almost everything that's not farmed. The trees are really tall, and really thin in the mountains.

Ibarra is surrounded by mountains. Ha, an interesting note, when I take a shower at my friends house,
The White AngelThe White AngelThe White Angel

There's Anna and Tabea, transfixed by the angel. Probably speaking in German, much to my dismay. Luckily, I can pick out some words...well, they're mainly curses, but I can kind of get the general drift of what's being said at times.
out the window in the bathroom I can only see clouds. Looks like we're on a cliff that's level with the clouds, it's pretty cool. I'll be sure to take a photo of that next time. The clouds are all pretty low, and sometimes there's this crazy crazy fog that you can't see anything in. There's also these random lakes in the Imbabura province that are really beautiful.

About Ibarra, in the city it's a lot of cobblestone streets. A lot of the streets have really deep ruts in the cobblestones from wagons, that's pretty cool. Ibarra has a much better centro for going out and hanging out in than Portoviejo. The stores actually look like stores and the restaurants actually look like restaurants. In portoviejo, everything in the centro is just a hole in the wall, really ugly, and probably not worth checking out. More people seem to hang out in the centro in Ibarra too. There's loads of hang out spots: clubs, restaurants, bars, and internet/gaming cafes.

Two of my favorite spots in Ibarra are two restaurants: La Hacienda, and Sinbad's. La Hacienda is a sandwich place that's more of a...clubhouse, I guess that's what it
Good ManGood ManGood Man

There's a good man right there. We've given Lukas short notice twice for staying at his house and each time he's come through for us. There's about a third of the Ibarran valley.
feels like. A rustic cabin in Northern Oregon on the coast in a densely wooded area. That's where La Hacienda would fit in. It's snug, cozy, two stories with a spiral staircase leading up to the upper floor. The upper floor is really warm and snug. You can hardly get by the tables over the creaky floor boards. It's the atmosphere the makes the place. There's nowhere cozier if it's cold and rainy in Ibarra. The sandwiches are amazing too. El Español is my favorite. It's lettuce, tomato, balsamic vinegar, a prosciutto style ham, and a pesto style sauce. Amazing stuff. Only 2.80 too. The prices of food are great here. I think it's taking its toll on me though. The second best place is Sinbad's, a lebanese shawarma restaurant. The same guy works there every day except sunday. Late morning until probably about 12 at night. It's crazy. I'd probably get a shawarma twice a day, and each day I'll see the same guy there. Normal stature, average build, short/curly/dark hair, gray 5 o'clock shadow that builds up during the day, he's always chewing gum, I've seen him smoking a few times. Cool guy though, I have no idea
SugarcrackSugarcrackSugarcrack

Sugarcane is addictive. For 25 cents you have a bag of it and a few freshly chopped pieces. Chew them until there's only a small amount of compact wood-like pulp left, spit the remains on the ground, start another piece. It's amazing stuff.
how he keeps his cool all the time. The food there is just Shawarmas, the same thing as a döner kebab. Roasted meat on pita bread with vegetables and yogurt sauce. Mmmmm, my favorite thing to eat in Ibarra. It's also a social hangout for those who just want to chill. There's hookahs and pilseners, and that turns it into a place to grab a bite to eat and chill on friday and saturday nights. Other amazing place worth mentioning are Cafe Arte (Cafe Arte and La Hacienda were mentioned in Lonely Planet, I just found that out) a cool jazz club basically. Makes me feel like I'm in the 60's. They have live bands and music videos (saw The Police) that provide a nice music background, and it's pretty dark and cozy.

Besides all of these great restaurants, scenery, hang out spots, clubs, the main allure of Ibarra is all of my friends that live there. We stay with Lukas (the first time I traveled with Anna and we stayed there, second time I was alone, she decided to go to the beach), an amazing German friend who's a blast to just walk around with, talk to, hang
Cheap Ice CreamCheap Ice CreamCheap Ice Cream

This banana split was probably somewhere around 1.50, and it was amazing. The ice cream is so good there.
out in general. Then there's Simon, an awesome kid from Oregon. Has great taste in everything from food to music, is a La Hacienda fan like me. He also has lent me his grandfather's autobiography, which I'm more than halfway through. Very cool. Last time I was in Ibarra we'd play Age of Empires 2 at a gaming cafe with Lukas against the computers (Carlton, Joe my friends, we need to try that sometime when I get back). Johanna is from Utah, and she's pretty sweet, always really fun to talk to, hang out with, and she has some awesome Ecuatoriano friends that she introduced me too and now there's a group of guys there that I ended up going . Tabea is also German and very ummm...exciting... to be around because she can get pretty crazy sometimes. Really nice person who's fun to hang out with though. Kenneth is from South Carolina and I just met him the last time I was in Ibarra. A really cool kid that is hilarious, also great to talk to, has an interesting host father. Taavi is a crazy Estonian that always has some crazy story that he can pull out of nowhere.
SimonzsterSimonzsterSimonzster

Anna enjoyed taking pictures of him eating. We thought that he looked a little bit like Grover in this one.
Always interesting to be around. There's John from Colorado who I didn't get to spend as much time with, but he's really funny as well. Nora and Caroline I didn't get to see as much, but they're fun to hang out with as well. Then there's the group of Ecuatoriano friends that are always out in their red truck and small car, cruising the town. These people make Ibarra so fun, I'd like to compliment them on being great friends.

While I was in Ibarra my friends had school one day, and on that day I also went with them. It wasn't to school though, it was to the stadium there. Every school in Ibarra went to the stadium to watch some dances, some of which were really cool. Then there was a soccer match afterward that Simon played in that we hung around to watch. I think I ended up going out with the guys in the red truck every night, with my other friends and by myself. They are pretty cool, quite funny too. I meant to go to Otavalo on Saturday but never actually did get around to that. Next time I go I'll make sure
A complete waste of timeA complete waste of timeA complete waste of time

We spent a good deal of the time looking for telephones to turn upside down.
to do that though, I need a new bag to carry small stuff around in. Lukas's mom makes a mean Colada Morada, the best I've had so far. It's a traditional drink that involves stewing 7 different fruits and adding lots of sugar. It's delicious. It goes really well with the bread in Ibarra. The bread and colada are a traditional thing on the 1st of November. On Friday in Ibarra everyone went to cemetaries to pay their respects to the dead. It was really nice to see. I guess most of what I've been mentioning has been about the second time I went to Ibarra. The first time was just as good. I went with my best friend here, Anna, and it was kind of a spur-of-the-moment choice (this later ended up hurting us when YFU wouldn't let us travel to Ibarra again the next week with my friend Vincent in Santo Domingo). We did pretty much the same stuff when I was in Ibarra with Anna. However, we went out to see more or the "sights." Also, there was a lot more German being spoken around me because I'd end up with Lukas, Anna, and Tabea, and would
Oh my!Oh my!Oh my!

We got some really weird looks from other pedestrians. I think shoulder rides are taboo here. Or maybe it was because we were so tall.
be helpless. We went up a mountain to see the large white angel statue of Ibarra. There were some really deep ruts in the cobblestones going up there. I know this because my friends were speaking German and I'd fill in the silence with half-hearted attempts to get them to talk in English. "My, I wonder how many people it took to put all those cobblestones down," or "Think how many wagons it's taken to make those ruts...that's pretty cool, right?" But, traveling with someone is definitely better than traveling alone. Well, all my photos are from the first time too. Anna had something to do with that.

Bread is cheap and good in Ibarra. There's bakeries everywhere. You'll never go hungy there. One piece of delicious hot bread is 8 cents. Or you can get a decent doughnut for 35 cents. I might as well go into prices in Ecuador. If I haven't mentioned this before, everything here is dirt cheap except the imported things, which I never get anyway. A huge, tasty, good sandwich is approximately 2.50. A shawarma is 1.50. Every kind of delicious, fresh fruit imaginable is dirt cheap. Same goes for vegetables of all
Welcome to the JungleWelcome to the JungleWelcome to the Jungle

We've got ice cream and...well, I guess that doesn't work that well. My parents hate Gun's N' Roses anyway. Better not use any more of their songs in my blogs. Did I already use "Welcome to the Jungle" in my last blog?
shapes and sizes. Empanadas are amazing, everywhere, and cheap. I think Ian mentioned how much he likes Empanadas, and the same goes for me here in Ecuador, though, I'm used to a different kind. We have "green empanadas" on the coast, which are wrapped in a dough made out of mashed plantains. The empanadas in the sierra are probably more like Chilean empanadas. Empanadas are probably 35-50 cents, depending on where you go. There's street vendors everywhere that you can always get empanadas from. Pan de Almidón is really good and 25 cents. All snacks here in Ecuador are really good and really cheap. However, USA junk food is considerably more expensive, so I never get it.

I'm currently obsessed with Corelli's Concerti Grossi Op. 6, maybe something else in the name, but it doesn't say on the ipod right now. 28 tracks of sheer goodness. Listen to it every night before I go to bed. Thank you dad for having the CD and Ian for introducing me to it. My favorite classical CD so far. Oh, David Bowie's "Heroes" and "Under Pressure" too. I guess it's David Bowie and Queen's "Under Pressure."

Hmmm, a few minor cultural
I love aviatorsI love aviatorsI love aviators

She kind of bears a resemblance to that lady on the front of "Almost Famous." Needs curlier hair though.
notes here before I finish. I've decided that I should talk to you about the horn use here in Ecuador. I always felt in the US that the use of the carhorn was reserved for special occasions. These would include almost dying and using the horn out of anger; and, seeing a friend on the road and using the horn to say "hi." Well, in Ecuador, the horn is used in a wider variety of ways. Each driver really has his/her own style. That's kind of interesting. There's the warning tap "I'm driving straight, don't you dare turn out in front of me because I'll plow right through you." This can also vary, there's a two tap warning which can be finessed only by a few people including my bus driver in the morning. It's so fast it almost sounds like one tap, very cool stuff. Heck, today I heard him accomplish a triple tap. Hats off to him. Whenever someone drives through an area where there's a perpendicular road they honk or flash their brights. Flashing your brights has many useful purposes here in Ecuador. It mainly poses questions: "would you like a ride in my taxi?" Or "Why
Chip, chop, chipChip, chop, chipChip, chop, chip

That's what the ice cream does to you.
are you pulling out to pass the slow semi when I'm barreling straight towards you?" And even "Why are you driving around at night without lights on?" My mom and dad have mastered the angry horn technique, a step up from the irritated horn technique. The angry horn technique involves hitting the wheel as hard as you can and holding your hand there until the car in front moves. The irritated horn technique is a step below and involves giving the wheel a good nudge to let the car in front of you know that it's time to move so that they can signal the next driver in front of them, all the way up to the driver that's not moving. They do this when the light's red and the car in the front isn't moving fast enough for them...I'm not a fan of it.

Ibarra does have the best ice cream in Ecuador. It begins as a liquid in a large copper pot set on top of ice. Whoever is making the ice cream spins the pot around and around on the top of the ice and over the period of an hour or more, the liquid thickens
Drunks and Bulls.Drunks and Bulls.Drunks and Bulls.

This was a drunk guy that had to be taken out in the bullpen in Manta. The problem was that the bull would charge at all the guys trying to get him out. Where were the clowns? Err...professional clowns.
into the "ice cream," which doesn't actually have any cream in it. It's not the same as it was when it was invented though because the original glacier where the ice was brought from has melted...I'm not sure how that works because the ice isn't a part of the finished product. It's just the ice that the pan sits on...oh well. An unexpained mystery.

Ah, here's a little interesting story about bus rides for me. I've discovered I can go into something like a trance on the bus. I'll be sitting there and kind of doze off, but I'll still be awake. Then, I'll try to talk, but I can't move my mouth correctly, like I've had a whole bunch of novacaine. So then I'll try to open my eyes, which is incredibly difficult, and then I'll try to move my body, but I can't make anything move. By this time, my eyelids are too tired and I close my eyes again. It's really cool though. I wasn't just dreaming either.

Word of caution about taxi drivers here, they flip out if you slam the door. They're crazy about shutting it slowly. "Despacito mi'jo." In Ibarra we apparently
The BullThe BullThe Bull

There's a bunch of guys with towels. There's the bull.
slammed the door way too hard and were yelled at thoroughly with some choice words. I've been taking care to shut the doors slowly ever since.

Things I love about Ecuador, Ian did have a good idea for this type of thing.

Adding "ito" to the end of every word, making it into "a little cheese, a little coffee, a little water, etc." Quesito, cafecito, agüito, fritadito, despacito.

"Ya mismo," which means "A little later." Everyone puts things off until the last second. You can use this when someone asks you to do something.

Mangoes, every day, every hour.

Empanadas verdes with the hot sauce they have here.

"Fish! Fresh fish! We catch 'em you buy 'em!" There's fish everyday.

CNN in Spanish

Pan con helado

A beach 30 minutes away.

Cheap bus fares

Buenaso and duraso

Adding "the" in front of people's names in the sierra. El Nathaniel. Nice ring to it.

Performing the "running and jumping onto the bus" feat, and "jumping and running off the bus" feat.

Dollar pirated movies of surprisingly good quality.

Amazing, cheap food all the time, on every corner.

Having "Que pelo!" shouted at me by some lunchtime drunks.

Explaining "Shay Guevara" to people

"Esa verga pana!!" Don't translate it. It's an inside joke mom and dad.

Walking around Ibarra at 10 at night and running into my friends in the red truck.

Shawarmas

Dollar taxi rides.

25 cent bus rides.

Taking random buses in portoviejo and seeing where they go.

And more, though I'll put that on the next blog.

Well, I guess that concludes another exciting look into A Day in the Life of Nathaniel, well, quite a few days actually. I really like that song though. Cheers.





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10th January 2008

Oh yeah
mmmmm shawarma.

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