Sunday, April 24, 2011
I really like FreeCuba's Cuban Cuisine series here in Quito. When the Picadillo (GC2B17C) cache came out I was traveling. When I got back to the country and saw that it was yet unfound I just had to go look for it. I parked at the public parking lot near the park, grabbed my hiking stick and swag bag and was on my way. The hike was an easy one, maybe 1/4 of a mile on a easy trail. Just as I arrived at the GZ I had to leave the trail and pick up a less traveled trail. I was in a lightly wooded area with lots of knee high dried grass. This time of year it doesn't rain much in the "sierra" (mountains) of Northern Ecuador so the grass goes brown and begins to get brittle. I looked around and mentally marked off a radius of about 30 feet from where I considered ground zero to be. My GPSr accuracy showed 29 feet. I began poking with my hiking stick in all the obvious places. Still no pole on plastic noise. Where could it be? I continued like this for 45 minutes with no find. Finally I moved on to look for another cache. This one was successful. When I got home I wrote FreeCuba. A few days later he wrote back to say he'd checked on it and that the cache was still there. He did mention that it was behind a tree. I headed back out and found the GZ to be the same as the other day. This time I walked right up to a tree and immediately saw the red top from the jar showing through the grass. How did I miss this the other day? It just goes to show that on some days you miss and other days you are right on target. I quickly signed the FTF line, took a copy of the recipe for picadillo and headed home. I'm on a low carb/high protein diet. Picadillo, minus the rice, looked pretty low carb friendly. It also looked like it would be a good dish. That afternoon I broke out the pots and pans and set to it. My wife and daughter were amused but in the end they were impressed with the outcome. Picadillo is good! It reminds me of the empanadas we could buy in many restaurants there. They filling for the empanadas were made with ground beef with a sprinkling of raisins all fried up in olive oil. So is picadillo. If you get to Quito be sure and visit the Picadillo cache. If you can't visit the cache and get a recipe, let me suggest this recipe at AllRecipes.com.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
My wife was visiting North Carolina and was invited to speak to our granddaughter's 4th grade class about life and work in Ecuador among the Quichua people. All that was fun but on the way home our grandson made clear that she couldn't come to his class to speak. She thought that the children had really enjoyed the information and the activities she provided so she was surprised by his comment. Then he told her that they had a pet guinea pig in their class and that if she came to speak to his class he was sure she would eat the pet guinea pig. Not to worry, she didn't and she doesn't like "cuy", the Spanish name for guinea pig. Yet this is one of the delicacies of Ecuador and other Andean countries. We have Quichua friends even in the city who raise cuy on their roof tops and in closets within their homes. Cuy is a favorite dish and pretty easy to raise. This animal reproduces about as quickly as rabbits do. In one of the communities where we have worked a friend of ours has developed what we call "Cuy Hotels". He takes a 55 gallon drum and cuts it lengthwise. With screen wire he covers the open half as well as cutting out a portion of the remaining barrel and screening it in. Then he places as many as eight cuy inside, sets the screened side on the ground and instantly has protection for the cuy (from dogs mainly), containment for them and they have food. Every day he moves the cage over to more new grass and doesn't have to forage for food for the cuy daily. At the same time he is fertilizing the ground. If you visit an Quichua home you are likely to be offered cuy for a meal if you are a special guest or if it is a special occasion. What does it taste like? Well.... I think it is like greasy chicken myself. There just isn't much meat to be found on this little animals. In many parts of Ecuador you can order cuy in restaurants. It is a little more expensive than other dishes. In many parts of the country you can see open grills on the street where cuy are prepared and served. Remember, it is a specialty here and if you are offered it in a home, best dig in. Don't offend your host. I might add that it taste good so enjoy! In honor of the famous cuy of Ecuador I've place a cache by the same name. Be sure to come looking for it. Yes, they even make little cuy from gourds that they paint up. Cuy (GC2MHJY)
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Going to be visiting Ecuador for vacation? If so a must experience is Baños, a fun town nestled between two worlds, the highlands with their soring peaks and Quichua culture and the high jungle with their many waterfalls. Baños has many hotels and hostels for the tourist. In town alone there are many things to do. Start by taking a ride on a chiva, an open-air touring party bus. Often these are made up from old bus bodies affixed to the bed of a large truck. The chivas are there to take you on a city tour complete with guide, music and fun. You can also take a ride around town in an all terrain vehicle (ATV) or a go cart. The kids like this one at night. See the old Catholic church on the main square or stroll through along the sidewalks and stop in at sidewalk cafes, candy stores stretching taffy (called melchor) or visit one of the main restaurants. The town is full of tour agencies ready to provide you fun activities just outside of town. Go by chiva or horseback with a guide to the Chamana Waterfall, take a long horseback ride up the mountain overlooking the city or a long chiva ride to see many of the waterfalls along the Waterfall Route to the east. There is plenty to do. Sign up for hang gliding, zip lining, canyoning, bungy jumping, hiking .... the list just goes on. In the evening settle down for a canela drink made with hot passion fruit juice and cinnamon. If you are a geocacher, this sport is growing among tourist coming to Baños too. Due to the good work of jimnet2005, a resident in Riobamba who frequents the Pastaza River valley, there are a growing number of geocaches that can be found. jimnet2005 likes to place his caches in places of interest, places you will want to see. For example, visit Cruz de Runtun TB Hotel (GC28NNE) and get a great view of the city of Baños and possibly a view of Tungurahua volcano above you. Or take off down the Pastaza River valley to the east to find a series of caches up the Machay River or even further down at a spectacular overlook of the widening Pastaza River. You'll love the family fun in Baños. Come check it out!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
While visiting the high jungle town of Zamora, Ecuador I had the chance to get out and hide a geocache. I've spent time in the jungle before and am accustomed to the heat. I really like the cool mornings and evenings we have here. It just isn't as hot as most jungle locations. The town has a beautiful park and river running through it. I made my way to the upper reaches of the town where there is a large clock embedded in the mountain. You can look up from almost anywhere in town and see the time. I thought this was a great place to place a geocache, Zamora's first! I had to watch out for muggles but was able to find a place for a micro near the clock. Due to bad signal I give instructions on how to find the cache by walking a certain distance from ground zero. It should be pretty easy. Congratulations to luzian from Switzerland for the FTF on Zamora Knows the Time (GC2FJZD)? If you get the chance to visit Zamora, it is the entrance to Podocarpus national park and is situated near a beautiful waterfall.