NOTES FROM OUR TRAVELS
Did You Know?
Ecuador may be a relatively small country by South American standards, but it’s chock full of wonders, including the spiky yet majestic Andes Mountains, lush rainforests, and the sparkling clear water on its Pacific coastline, flanked by some of the most desirable beaches in South America.
A collection of vibrant, indigenous cultures, colorful crafts, and colonial architecture fascinate even the most jaded travelers and make Ecuador a dream destination! The oldest Ecuadorian tools discovered date back to 9,000 B.C.
The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador and a two-hour flight from the mainland. This cluster of about 20 volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean is so remote that its residents include animals found nowhere else on earth. There are even species that are unique to individual islands!
Dip Into Ecuadorian Culture
Watch a video, of Pueblo Nuevo an Ecuadorian musical group whose impassioned singing and guitar playing, punctuated by native panpipes, will make you want to grab a cerveza and start swaying and swirling.
While Quito is the capital of Ecuador, the Andean highland city of Cuenca dazzles with its collection of colonial buildings. In fact, the city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The centro historico is home to block after block of grand buildings constructed by the Spanish after the conquistadors landed in the 1550s.
No vampires were harmed in the making of this hat: The unique sheen of the Panama hat so amazed superstitious 16th century Spanish explorers that they thought it was made of vampire skin! You may know it as a Panama hat, but it actually comes from Ecuador and is properly called a toquilla or a jipijapa hat. East Coast Americans traveling through Panama on their way to California during the gold rush in the 1840s saw these hats everywhere and concluded that they were a local product. Their first international appearance was at the 1855 World’s Fair in Paris.
What Do They Eat in Ecuador?
While cuisine in Ecuador varies from region to region, expect to find these standards:
Encebollado is a hearty soup that’s considered a restorative and cure-all. While you’ll find it throughout the country, it’s especially popular in the coastal regions, where it’s made with tuna—and sometimes other seafood—along with yuca and onions.
Humitas, a type of corn cake, is a beloved street food made of corn and cornmeal, onions, eggs, and cheese stuffed into fresh corn husks and steamed.
For the adventurous there is Cuy, a.k.a. guinea pig. It’s beginning to show up in South American restaurants in the U.S., but if you want to sample it on its home turf, Ecuador is the place to do it. Considered a delicacy reserved for special occasions, it is roasted whole and served with potatoes and various side dishes. Roll up your sleeves and eat it with your fingers. It’s messy but good!
One more culinary cultural nugget: While you may gobble up popcorn by the handful at the movies, in Ecuador you’ll find it used as a garnish on dishes including ceviche and soups.