Ecuador: Part 2

Part 2 of my travels to Ecuador

 

Hola, de repente!

 

I started that last post while I was in Ecuador. Now I’ve been back for a week and a couple of days and it feels like I was never there. Almost. I was there enough to remember…

The Saturday after I arrived, I made arrangements to fly to a different city in Ecuador to view the processing facility and farms that I currently get product from- and would get to say thank you more legitimately.

I packed way too much stuff. You see, we’ve been moving houses since the end of February and as it was winter when we first moved out, all of my summer stuff was in storage/in my old basement/not entirely sure where. So when I found a lot of clothes for summer, I guess I got really excited and decided to pack them all. A whole summer’s worth.

Anyway, flew to Quito, stayed at a hostel the first night where the buzzer would ring whenever anyone got back (2 am, 3 am, 4 am, 5 am, 6 am, 7 am, 8 am- commence blasting techno music). Enough of that- ended up Couch Surfing again- and am very glad I did, as I got to spend time with a lovely family and again got a more “hands on” perspective on the culture of different parts of Ecuador. I realized that there seemed to be a theme- both of my hosts were young women (ages 24 and 37), unmarried, worked for their fathers’, and lived at home. Cush!

Monday- went to the absolutely immaculate processing facility. And saw a whole stack of boxes of cacao butter- the very cacao butter used in Zimt! Was amazing. I got to meet with the processors from the local community and got a way better idea of how everything is done. Got to say thank you, too. Muchas gracias. I said it a lot. I think they felt a little overwhelmed… this was all after a meeting at the office that morning (which of course included chocolate sampling. Somebody’s gotta…).

Got back to my temporary home in Quito that night- I was staying a little ways outside of the city but if you leave before dark, taxis are still cheap but also safe! I was CouchSurfing again and spent time with my host’s family, and also packing as I would be leaving the next day after my trip to the Amazon. Straight to the airport.

Tuesday: Went to the Amazon! About a three and a half hour drive but absolutely worth it and absolutely incredible scenery on the way. Parts reminded me of Scotland- really rugged and fresh.  We drove through a cloud forest and saw about a million waterfalls. Once we got to the community we first went to the waterfall/river that the kids play in after school- so fun!

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And then saw some of the projects they are working on and were served a beautiful lunch from one of the farmer’s  family. They do not use any additional salt in their cooking and actually some European organization tried to start some program where they would pay the community 5 million Euro to learn how to cook “properly”- which the community declined. They pointed out that while there is plenty of heart disease, obesity, and other illnesses in Europe, their community is, and always has been, doing just fine. During the 2008 crisis, they were untouched- didn’t even notice. The pineapple trees didn’t, so why should they?

Anyway- I gave them some Coconut Crisp & I think Sweet Orange Nib’d bars to try and had only Salt of the Earth left. They wanted to try it, but I was worried they wouldn’t like it because of the salt. But they loved it! The little girl kept asking for more and of course her wish was my command.

 

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Wandered a bit through the jungle there and saw some wild cacao and then went to see where the beans dry and ferment. Neat =)

We had to head back so I wouldn’t miss my flight- and we stopped to get some coconut water (fresh coconuts) on the side of the road on the way back. Was really good until I got super ill. And then had to take my flight, while super ill. And then found my way back to my friend’s house in the other city, super ill. It was sheer willpower that allowed me to pack my bags, sleep for 4 hours, and then catch my first of three flights back to Vancouver! Made it!!! And eventually started feeling better, too. Only took me about 24 hours.

And that was that!

Happy to be back, was quite fruitful, I would say,  though I think I would need to spend another ten days down there to get everything done that I wanted to. Next time.

 

xo Emma