morning: well, we almost had chicken for breakfast. a little after 3am the rooster started up. it was just one...but it was loud and consistent. another joined in around 4-430am and by 5 am the idea of sleep was completely lost. so...hopefully illbe able to get a bit of shut eye on our 6 hour bus ride to ambato (en route to latacunga). only just started my medicine but i feel like im better already! currently pat and i are sitting on the deck @ limoncocha waiting on our REAL coffee and breakfast before we jet off to catch the 830am bus. the adventure continues....
afternoon: after a 5 hour ride to amabato (which cost a whopping 5 bucks), we boarded another bus for latacunga...which was only a 45 minute ride away. through our bus rides have been long, i dont really mind at all. the buses are nice, my body gets a rest, and my eyes are treated with some of the most beautiful, desolate landscape ive seen. its cheap too, working out to be a little less than a dollar for every hour it takes. i think that the buses move so quickly and smoothly because the driver just DRIVES and he has an assitant who collects money and helps people on and off the bus. usually its the old people and little kids he helps. there a lot of small, VERY small children take the bus completely by themselves...some for hours at a time. its pretty amazing. all of this driving throughout the country, putting bags under the bus and trusting they will be there when i return, has left me with the assumption that there isnt much theft in ecuador. when you drive through towns, there are no bars on windows like there are in costa rica. ive also found that the people of ecuador have a lot of pride, which is another reason for little theft. they have pride in their country, their work and their family. i dig the vibe here. everyone is friendly for the most part, and though guys might hoot and holler every once and awhile at a pretty lady walking by they arent aggressive like they are in other countries. multiple times people in ecuador have gone way way OUT of their way to help me...whether its with some confusion on the bus, finding and communicating with a doctor, or just in general conversation.
side note: jesus christ, people in ecuador eat a TON of yogurt. all day long. its amazing.
SO...pat and i finally arrive in LATACUNGA!!!! hooooray!!! the town is bustling with activity, everyone is preparing for tomorrows LA MAMA NEGRA celebration. luckily there were a few spots left @ HOSTAL TIANA...lonely planets number one recommendation. I can understand why....its a huge old colonial house with an open courtyard, huge wooden doors, beanbags everywhere, gorgeous beds and gorgeous bathrooms...flowers everywhere - and for 8 bucks a night. usually the 8 dollars includes a huge breakfast but since its the festival it wont be included. big whoopdiedoo. first on my list of things to do in latacunga was to eat CHUGCHUCARAS. Chugchucara is the classic dish of Latacunga...basically a heart attack on a plate...but its sooooooooooo f*ing delicious it would make your head spin. we tracked down the ¨best` chugchucara place in town CHUGCHUCARAS LA MAMA NEGRA. The only thing on the menu is...you guessed it, chugchucara!!! the restaurant itself was GORGEOUS, one of the nicest restaurants that I have ever been in, anywhere. pat and I split the plate because we were warned that it is a lot of food. well, both of us couldnt finish all of the pork goodness that our plate had to offer. a chugchucara is a plate of:
-fritada (fried chunks of delicious pork)
-mote (maize that is steamed and then topped with chicharron, which is fried bits of pork skin)
-popcorn (perfectly salted and seasoned)
-and last, but certainly not least, were the SWEET CORN empanadas stuffed with cheese. oh, my, god, perfect!
this plate is then crowned with a GINORMOUS pork rind. holy christ.
The sauce that they serve with most meals here in ecuador, and which is ESSENTIAL for your pork plate, is AJILLO. It´s somewhat creamy, definitely spicy, with herbs and onions. bahhhhh. outta this world.
DAD...is your mouth watering yet??? pat and i washed down this plate with a beer and enjoyed some flaminco musci from 3 guitarist who strolled in once we sat down.
now we are at the internet cafe, 70cents for every hour, and all i can think about is when i will ever be hungry again...cause when i am, i am going straight back to mama negras´for a big plate of chugchucaras. thank god i dont live in latacunga, i would be 500 pounds.
for the rest of the day pat and i are going to make our way back through town to the hostal, then relax in the courtyard in hammocks or beanbags...just resting up for the big fiesta tomorrow. hopefully lou made it safely outta the jungle and is en route to meet up with us.