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Monday Escape – Ecuador

08 Nov

If you are like me, your mind wanders a lot and very often is trying its best to take you away to some other place.  Until the day I can afford to take at least one vacation a month, I think my mind will always work like this.  Instead of fighting it, I am going to indulge it and take you all along with me on mini mind wanderings!  What better day to do so than on a Monday?  You’re back at work from an awesome weekend and I’m sure you would rather be on vacation than sitting at your desk right now.

When I was in fourth grade, we each had to choose a country to write a short paper on and present to the class.  My grandmother had given me a world almanac for Christmas and I had honed in on the Galapagos Islands, so I chose Ecuador.

Map of Ecuador

Before I go further, I would like to defend my grandma’s gift choice.  She was not one of those crazy annoying grandparents that just “knows” that their grand-kid is going to be the next Einstein, and decides to shower them with educational presents so that they can run around like little snot-nosed brats spouting out facts and thinking they are cute.  My grandma just LOVED Christmas.  Entering her house on Christmas was every kid’s dream set before my eyes – a huge tree dripping with ornaments (at least three per branch) and a sea of presents spewing across the living room.  Present opening took hours.  Each year you could anticipate a few of the gifts:  one practical gift of either underwear or socks, one book and one ornament that you got to pick off the tree.  All the other gifts were just fun.  Ok, so the point is, that year my book was an almanac.  I also love reading, so I read it.

Back to our Ecuador adventure!  As I said, the Galapagos Islands are what originally inspired me to report on Ecuador as a child.

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago located off the western coast of Ecuador.  The main feature is the incredible wildlife which has lead to its distinction as a UNESCO World Heritage site and has drawn in many visitors, including Charles Darwin.  Darwin visited in 1835 and studied the dense and distinct flora and fauna, many of which are still evolving.  The finch that he observed here helped in his development of his theory of evolution by natural selection.

The islands are relatively young for islands and there is still a lot of seismic and volcanic activity.  This activity, combined with the heavy isolation of the islands, makes for an ideal environment for the development of new and unusual species.  According to the Galapagos Conservancy, the islands are host to many species which are endemic to the area, meaning they can not be found anywhere else in the world.  Roughly 80% of the land birds, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, more than 30% of the plants, and more than 20% of the marine species are endemic.  The most iconic is probably the giant Galapagos tortoise, but many would also note the iguanas and the Galapagos penguin—the only penguin species to be found in the Northern Hemisphere.

Now that's a big fuckin' tortuga

Caveat…this is not one of my photos as I have not actually been to the Galapagos Islands….yet.  It’s from here.
So, what to do on the mainland?  If you are an Anthony Bourdain fan like me, then you may have seen his show on Ecuador.  While there, Tony tried percebes at El Pelicano Restaurant.  I had never heard of or seen percebes before.  They are a type of shellfish that grows on rocks.  They look like little dinosaur fingers and it looked like there is very little meat in them, but mussels and oysters are two of my favorite things, so I would definitely be wanting to try these crazy looking guys!

Percebes

 Anyways, all of the stews and soups that Bourdain ate also looked fantastic!  If you want to see where else he went, they outline the show’s stops here and you can watch the episode on watch instant on Netflix.  It’s Season 8, Episode 6.  Needless to say, Ecuador’s food is making me hungry and definitely adds to the excitement of visiting!

Well, that’s a tiny taste of Ecuador.  Hopefully one day I will go and can write a follow-up post about my trip!  According to Lonely Planet, the only time to really avoid would be mid-December through January and June through August – the peak tourist times and so, the highest rates.  Who wants to come with me?
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1 Comment

Posted by on November 8, 2010 in Friday Escape, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One response to “Monday Escape – Ecuador

  1. Sarah Freitag

    November 11, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Love reading your stories what a great writer. Thanks for including the short
    story of your grandmother. I know she would be sooooo proud of you.

     

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