Packages oh Packages Part 2

23 03 2010

“Ray, you’re good with directions”. This is what my colleague told me as we were driving into the village. I told her I didn’t have a choice because there are some days where I don’t have a translator or a driver so I just wing it. I’ve gotten used to driving on the British side of the road, driving aggressively because I have to and four wheel driving in the dirt roads after a rainstorm. Half the time I don’t know where I’m going since there are no street signs so you just look for markers like ‘big banana tree’ or ‘turn left where you see the herd of cows’.

So I drove to the village today and then took a matatu back to Kampala. It never ceases to amaze me how many people they can shove into these tin cans. At the peak of the drive, I counted 16 in my matatu. Luckily it was cool today so I didn’t have to sweat profusely.

Upon getting back to the office I got package #2. Oh Happy Day!

Among the many goodies I received:

  • lop cheung
  • sirracha hot sauce (a must for every Asian household)
  • dried chap chae noodles (time to enlist my Korean friend to cook)
  • SPAM!!! an essential when you’re cooking fried rice
  • chocolate and lots of it
  • little debbie’s snack cakes and oreos!!!
  • hand sanitizers and razor blades
  • lay-see (man I miss Chinese New Year)

Thanks Bay Area friends!!! I would hyperlink everyone so you can read their blogs but only Stan updates on a regular basis.


Cuy – not just your household pet

30 06 2009

I headed out to Cayambe this weekend with the Chimarro’s. I’ll blog about them in a later post but I wanted to write about my experience with cuy. Cuy is guinea pig and is named because of the sound it makes when it’s scared. I would be scared too if I was going to be dinner for a family. On Saturday morning we stopped by Juan Ca’s grandmother’s house to catch our meal. After bagging a couple of cuy, we dropped it off at the Chimarro house to be prepared.




After a day of sightseeing in Otavalo and Cayambe, I came back to the kitchen to see that Mama Chimarro had caught a couple more, skinned it and was prepped to cook. Below you’ll see Glenda (one of the friends I met in Cayambe) displaying the main dish.



The time had finally arrived on Sunday afternoon. It was Pablo’s 25th birthday and we celebrated the day with a platter of cuy. Now before you get grossed out and all snooty about people eating pets, let me say that cuy is a household dish in Ecuador especially in the mountains. It’s an expensive dish at about $20 per plate. And let me answer the question “What does it taste like?” – it tastes like chicken. I’m not kidding. It was finger lickin’ good. I really enjoyed the cuy with a side of mote (corn).

The Chimarro’s were such an hospitable family. I know they took the time to make sure I was okay eating the dish. If you want to know about a country and get away from the tourist spots, branch out and try the traditional food. Don’t be afraid to eat from a street vendor or ask to try something. The best way to be a great explorer and fun traveler is to try new things. You’ll really get to know the people, learn new traditions and have fun!!!

Cuy – it’s not just your household pet…. it’s what for dinner.