Category Archives: Life

Shit I Learned About Peruvian Elections

About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to be in the county’s capital city for the recent elections. They weren’t for the big job, the president, but for all of the governors and regional representatives around the country. Without getting into the nitty gritty, there were a few very interesting things I learned while being in the country during this period.

1. Everybody seems to get involved.

And by everybody, I mean mostly the elderly representatives of the country. They are out, they have their signs, they are protesting until they are hoarse. Many of them have their houses painted with political propaganda to show their support for their candidates. Candidates also paint any free standing structure they can get their paintbrushes on including cliff faces, gutters, bridges, you name it. The thing is, these people remember a time when things were much worse than they are now, so they are heavily on it with protests and campaigns.

2. To vote you have to be in the jurisdiction of where you vote.

Unlike with other countries, if you’re registered in Cusco and currently in Lima for work, you cannot vote. To vote, you have to be in the actual region where you are registered and go into a specific office that they allocate you for voting. That means on voting weekend, transport and booking buses is a nightmare because if you don’t vote, you get fined. It is compulsory.

3. There are political parties, and then there are political parties.

You will see many symbols down the road for different political parties that people are representing in Peru, such as the Maicitos, Somos Peru etc. but of more interest to me as a foreignor were the actual parties. In the lead up to elections in an attempt to convince you of their awesomeness, candidates will have street parties. One blocked off our road in the middle of a tour to Chavin as they were handing out free chicken, rice and potatoes off the back of the truck to all who came and sat in the square to listen to the propaganda. This is mild campaigning.  Some take it to a whole new level.

Back in Huaraz, an entire hostel of very shitty people trying to sleep for trekking at five am, were enduring a party in the middle of the street attended by about twenty people with flags. Why was this a problem? Because they had a stage with a ten piece band that had been playing from 1pm until 11pm and at that stage still weren’t looking at stopping, despite a crazy English girl in the hostel hanging her head out the window and abusing them in Spanish for their lack of consideration of others.

I went briefly to investigate this fiasco while on the hunt for food and discovered that not only was there a band, but they had back up dancers in g-strings and I could see what they ate for breakfast. My sensitive western ways wanted to blindfold and cover the eyes of all small children everywhere to protect them from the sexually provocative images being promoted to urge people to vote for this clearly above board chap. But then, maybe I’m just a prude.

However you look at it, they aren’t campaigning with good values in mind, well most of them…. So what values are they campaigning for?

4. Politicians in Peru earn a shit ton of money.

I have it on authority from a local that many of these low level politicians can be earning as much as $8000 USD a month!?! Yep. That’s even more than most westerners earn and we’re talking about a country where the minimum income is a bit over $200 USD a month. So despite not knowing what you’re doing, you ain’t really got a whole lot to lose by running for parliament. As it was, in the area of central Lima alone, there were over 450 candidates running. No wonder people have no idea who to vote for and no wonder it winds up being a shit show.

5. Roadworks tend to increase when elections are called.

An insight from a friend’s Peruvian mum is thatroadworks always start happening when elections are on. For two reasons. Firstly it is the most blatantly obvious way to point out to people that something is getting done. Because hey have to deal with it every day.

Secondly, because based on a survey of the average cost of a kilometre of road around the world, the cost of road in Peru is approximately three times larger than that of road in Europe. One has to wonder where exactly that money is going, and one can also take a pretty good guesstimate that it is going straight into the coffers of those in fear of not being re-elected. You know, saving for a rainy day, when your opportunity to steal from the general population disappears….. Last minute panic.

About a month on and everything seems to have settled back to normal. The houses are still painted and there are still billboards and advertisements everywhere, but the hype has definitely settled and it is back to business as usual. Less roadworks, as they have now started to steadily cease. And backpackers everywhere rejoice because they can sleep without the noisiest of campaigns happening outside their windows.

Advertisements

Shit I Am Going To Have To Relearn Going Home

Travelling through developing countries is a whole other world compared to the cushiness that you experience living in a country like Australia. For the last year or so, I have developed habits that I daresay are going to follow me around for a while. Some of the things that I am going to have to relearn when going home are as follows:

  1. Toilet paper belongs in a toilet, not a rubbish bin

It is fair to say that plumbing here is fairly shit. So shit in fact that if you throw toilet paper in the toilet and clog it up, you’re facing more shit than you could ever dream of. After my very first trip to Asia, I came wandering into the kitchen of my flat with my toilet paper and my housemate asked me what the fuck I was doing. That is a superb question really. After a year and a couple of months of this, it is going to be a hard habit to break.

2. Taking toilet paper with you everywhere you go

Because they bloody well don’t provide it anywhere. And if you’re lucky to get charged for a toilet that actually has paper you can be sure that they will give you four squares and look at you strange because you ask for more. The truth is, if you’re a woman peeing, you need more, sometimes that shit sprays. If you’re a woman on your period, four squares is also definitely not cutting it. And if you are anyone taking a shit, especially diarrhoea, a measly four squares isn’t going to do the job. As such, you find yourself resorting to the following; stealing napkins from restaurants you eat lunch at, or sitting on a hostel toilet with a cardboard roll and rolling that thing full of paper for ten minutes and then trying to sneak it out of the bathroom down your pants so that nobody sees you.

3. Toilets with actual plastic seats

Long gone will be the days of sitting your arse directly on a cold porcelain bowl or trying to squat over it because someone has kindly pissed all over it and hasn’t cleaned it up due to their lack of access to sufficient toilet paper.

4. You can drink water from the tap without having to boil or purify it.

The days of pouring yourself a glass of water from the tap ended long ago. The constant need to think about where you are going to source your water from and how you are going to purify it is a constant thought process. As one that hates constantly buying plastic bottles from shops as it is bad for the environment, planning for water is a constant thought that I will not have to worry about.

5. I do not need to keep and do surgeries on things that are broken

Everything I own is somehow broken. But when you have no money and having new things isn’t a priority, makeshift fixing is high on the list, when in ordinary life you would just throw it away. Surgeries that have been conducted on this trip include:

  • Using a hot metal spoon over fire to melt the plastic back together of my neck pillow
  • Duct taping around the strap of my backpack to try and hold it together long enough to get me home
  • Sewing holes in the crotches of my pants with patches
  • Wearing a garbage bag as a poncho because your rain jacket is totalled and no longer waterproof
  • Sticky-taping the screen of my iPad together so that the glass doesn’t fall out
  • Using stickytape to hold your shoelaces together so that they don’t fall apart
My engineering mate helping out with neck pillow surgery.

6. Using a telephone.

Broke the awful thing that had no battery life on the kitchen floor of my flat in Colombia….. yeah I don’t need another one of those. These days I function with good old fashioned paper maps and email. WhatsApp? What’s that?

7. Having keys

The current check is passport, wallet, water purifier, lip gloss. Keys don’t register in this because I haven’t had to deal with keys for a very long time. Incorporating them into the daily check is going to be interesting.

8. Sleeping in a room alone

When constantly sharing a room with up to twelve people having privacy is kind of weird. When you finally find yourself in a room alone you start freaking out because, well, where is everyone?

9. Sleeping in a double bed

That and you’re always in a single bed with a shitty mattress and pillow. I don’t know how I am going to survive fluffy doona covers and decent pillows. Life is going to be hard.

10. Not packing your bag everyday

This is a reality. Every single day, you pull shit out of the bag, you put shit back into the bag. You are on constant alert as to where everything you own is and trying to make sure that it is in a safe area where it won’t get mixed up with everyone else’s stuff. Watch out Mum, I’m spreading throughout the house.

11. Wearing nice clothes and doing hair and make up

Enough said. Some weeks, I don’t even look in a mirror. I don’t brush my hair. I never put on make up. I don’t care. All of my clothes have holes in them, are faded, and look like shit. It is going to take a bit of adjustment to get used to normal people clothes and feeling like I belong in them.

12. Not constantly saying goodbye to people

Of the most exciting things on this list, is that I will be able to keep in touch with people I meet. Saying goodbye constantly takes its toll and is something that I do on a daily basis. It makes you somewhat closed to meeting new people because you know that everyone is transient.

Well, five more weeks of this and then life changes. Until then, I better get back to brushing my teeth from the bottle and going to bed in my holey socks! Cheers!

 

Dear Boys of South America

For any of you who behave like real men, in a respectful and honest manner, then I am not talking to you. I do not have any problems with you whatsoever because many of you are lovely human beings that I have had fabulous interactions with. This letter is addressed to the “little boys”. The ones that haven’t grown up to realise their manners or civic responsibility. The ones who view women as property and objects and behave as though they are entitled because they were born with a Y chromosome. You. I’m talking to you. Because there are some things I would like you to know.

1. Honking your horn at me incessantly as you make your way down the street does not make me like you. It makes me annoyed. You are behaving like an ignored five year-old jumping up and down screaming “I’m here! I’m here!” Well guess what? That’s lovely, but I really don’t give a fuck. I give minus fucks when you are doing so with your girlfriend on the back of your motorbike or your mother.

2. Making comments about my appearance as I walk down the street whilst salivating all over your own chin is not a way to pick up women. It’s disgusting. You remind me of the salivating dogs in the street that roam around sniffing each others arses.

3. You are not entitled to touch my body because you have a Y chromosome. In fact, when I tell you to stop touching me, that does not translate to ‘please, put your hand on my boob or my vagina’.

4. Just because I am a solo, white, female traveller that is not married, does not mean that I want to marry you and I am here with the sole purpose of finding a husband. Unless you’re my old boss. Who is a man, by the way, and used to ask me every week as a joke. But at least he asked my name first and gave a shit about who I was as a person before he tried to put a ring on it (jokingly).

5. When I tell you I am not interested in talking to you, that is exactly what I mean. It does not mean that if you follow me down the street asking me questions that I am all of a sudden going to think to myself, ‘yeah, respectful human who respects the wishes of others by doing what they ask them to, I want to have a big long chat with that person’. Not going to happen.

6. I am not an object. I am not property that you can fight over or argue about. I am a person. I will do what I want, not what you decide for me among yourselves.

The truth is, I am sick of it. The amount of times I have been sexually harassed verbally and physically on this trip I cannot count on both my hands and my toes. Some of the stories would horrify you. And while there are some lovely and incredible men in this part of the world, the general culture of males here needs a serious looking at. As a western woman, this is confronting. What is more concerning is that to the women here, this is the normal. They accept this because it is such standard everyday fare. But it is not ok. And we need to make a united stand about how ‘not OK’ this is.

I know that currently in the world, there are many different cultures attacking this very issue. And progress is slow. It always is because it takes generations of good examples to raise respectful boys and nurture them into being respectful men. And when the constant example for every five year old boy is that yelling and screaming obscene shit at women down the street and touching them inappropriately is the standard thing to do, this is just going to continue to propagate. So please, boys, stop teaching your sons to behave like disrespectful arseholes and man up. Teach your sons how to be real men. Respectful. Considerate.

And to be honest, you are making it even more difficult for the nice guys who are respectful because I have gotten to the point where I assume that the majority of you men on the street are crotch-grabbing arseholes and I want to run away from all of you. I want to hide. I even felt uncomfortable laying on a beach the other day when I realised there weren’t many people around and there were three of you walking towards me. I was on high alert. This is not how I should feel in the middle of the day on a beach, and yet it is. Constantly on edge, constantly looking for who is around me and how to avoid people and situations, constantly getting ready to fight back. What a way to live in the world. Aren’t you lucky that you never have to think about these things?

But you know, I am a woman, and that is the price that I pay for being born with two X chromosomes. My genetic defect appears to give you rights that are so much more privileged than mine. But remember who grew you inside their body and then looked after you to make sure that you were alive in this world. That is right. Your mother. A woman. And just like every woman, she is having to deal with this shit too. Without women, you wouldn’t be here to behave like you do, so maybe you should show some more respect and stop behaving like such self-entitled, possessive and ignorant arseholes. So on behalf of all women in this world, man the fuck up, boys. I’ve had enough and so have the rest of the world’s women.

Thanks,

Dano

Why Attitude Is Everything

So in the last couple of days, I could have thrown a strop, carried on, got depressed, felt sorry for myself and told myself how stupid I was. You see I went horse riding in the Podocarpus National Park in Ecuador and at some point while I am happily trotting my way down steep and bumpy hills, my backpack zips have opened themselves up and strewn every single thing inside all over the trail. A non-comprehensive list of shit that I lost is as follows:

  • My water bottle
  • My favourite jacket
  • My spare camera (that if I am to be a bit honest was a little bit fucked in that if you wanted to use the thing you had to keep the battery turned the wrong way while not in use so that the whole thing didn’t die in thirty minutes and you couldn’t change the settings or do anything. Half the time it started recording for shits and giggles).
  • My black bikini (good luck to anyone who gets their hands on that one and manages to find someone with boobs big enough to fit in it to sell it to).
  • My sarong
  • A 9/10 empty bottle of sunscreen
  • A 9/10 empty bottle of bug spray
  • Medicines
  • The hostel room key

Within thirty seconds of realising that this had happened, I started to laugh. I could have got upset with myself for not noticing. I could have got annoyed with myself because I should have zipped it down the side and maybe the pressure of the trot wouldn’t have opened my bag. I could have gotten upset about losing all of my things.

Instead I adopted the ‘shit happens’ attitude that my mother always harped on about, laughed and got on with it. The thing is, one of the biggest lessons I have learned in this life is that it isn’t what happens to you that is the most important thing. For the most part, we cannot control much of this anyway. What is most important, is how you choose to react to it. And yes, I use the word choose.

So much stress is created in this life by people getting worked up about things that shouldn’t be important. I looked at it this way. My good camera was still in my bra. I can buy another water bottle (the old one was shit and leaked anyway. The new one is still shit and still leaks anyway, but not the point). I have another bikini. Who needs a dirty sarong anyway. And jacket…. well, I am sure it will make somebody else very happy and warm. The thing that irked me most was losing the hostel key because it wasn’t mine to lose, but they didn’t care either. And thankfully I decided not to take my wallet with me that day so that I could go to the bank. I avoided losing my ATM card by doing this. And as much as they said that they would “look” for it, I know that this is Ecuador. There’s no chance in hell I was getting any of it back.

But things are things. They are material possessions that we shouldn’t place so much attachment to. And yet we do, all the time, get worked up about these material possessions when they break, go missing or whatever. The truth is, by doing this, we are creating our own stress. I would prefer to believe that someone else is now with my stuff and using it for their own use, just like I used the umbrella I coerced from a security guard in the English pub under the theory of the “lost goods karma train”. OK, I was drunk at the time, but the theory stands. I lose something that someone else finds and uses, I find something that someone else loses and use and love that until it dies, which I did with the umbrella.

We tend to forget that as humans, we make mistakes, things go wrong. People blame themselves and experience guilt for the most menial things at times, like losing all of your stuff. But in these moments, there is nothing at all you can do except accept. Accept that this is the circumstance, that it is how it is, and move on with a smile on your face. Because I could have let it ruin my day. But I chose not to let it. I chose to let the incident go and laugh about it, and that is what makes all the difference. If as humans, we could learn to forgive ourselves easier, forgive others easier, and learn to let things go, we would save ourselves so much stress in the long run.

And yet, we don’t. We get angry, worked up, overthink and can’t let go. We make things so much harder for ourselves than they need to be in so many cases. OK, so a guy or a girl was shit to you, get rid of them and move on. Who needs to spend all day analysing why this other person is or behaves like an arsehole. So you accidentally dropped your favourite piece of food on the ground and ruined it. Meh. You accidentally shrunk your jeans in the dryer? Give them to someone who needs them and move on. These types of thinks are not worth a second thought. So don’t badger yourself about them. Because it is how we approach the trivial things in our day to day lives that affects most our overall happiness. You can choose to be stressed and angry,  or you can choose to let it go and just be happy.

 

What I Reckon: Bus Bitches’ Bad Behaviour

Don’t ask me why. I am not entirely sure. But there generally is a sense of self-entitlement and lack of respect from Latina women on buses, that I have experienced across three countries now, that is driving me absolutely fucking insane.

When I am sitting next to you on a night bus, or any bus for that matter, I should not have to feel like I am fighting for my territory every step of the way. Such invasion of territory because you do not know how to sit in your fucking chair is ridiculous. Manners 1-0-fucking-1 people. It is like Patrick Swayze says in Dirty Dancing “This is my bus space, this is your bus space. You do not come into mine, I do not come into yours.” (Actually to be fair I think he was talking about ‘dance space’, but the same principle applies).

How a normal amd respectful person sits in a chair.

The following is a list of ways that you should not invade my bus space.

  1. With your arse

I like to call this “bum wars”. This is where said woman turns herself on her side, usually facing the window, pulls her feet up onto the chair or somewhere on the side wall and attempts to curl up and sleep. While doing this, she usually sticks her arse out so far that she, if you let her, winds up occupying at least half of your seat space. And don’t be fooled. This is her plan. She doesn’t give a fuck about you or your arse space. You are going to have to fight for every single inch of that arse space including, getting under it when she shifts weight and applying appropriate force in the opposite direction to reclaim your space. Be wary. She has the upper hand because she can leverage herself with her feet from the side wall. Hold strong. Flex that core. Endure those hip bruises (that I have actually gotten from engaging in bum wars) to show that bitch who is boss. This is my seat bitch. You will not take it from me!

Bum wars position. Notice how I’ve only left half a chair for my neighbour. This is not a respectful way to sit in your seat.

I remember a small victory that I had with one of the four women I have had to so far endure bum wars with. I held so fast onto my space that in the end she gave up and sat upright in her chair like you are supposed to sit in a fucking chair. And then she proceeded to put her feet all over the backs of chairs and all over the place. Win some, you lose some, but this was definitely an improvement.

2. With your elbows

Some bitch I wound up sitting next to last night on the night bus was establishing her territory right from the get go. Even by refusing to stand up and let me get into my seat. She made me crawl over the top of her while she loudly gossiped on the phone as if I were an inconvenience. This one also decided that she was entitled to my space with her elbow. Not only did she put her elbow on the armrest, this bitch had to hang her elbow several inches over the armrest into my ribs, which thus began ‘elbow wars’. And she knew what she was doing. Because when I pushed my arm down next to my ribs, still in my space, she continued to push back. And then I continued to push back, still within the confines of my seat. So then she decided to get with foot real estate by spreading her legs like a bro and having a war with my foot. The positive thing about being a young, fit, and strong individual with will power of the Gods is that I will out-fucking-hustle you with patience every fucking time. After about two hours, she gave up and retreated into her space for a while. But not before deciding that she wanted to again launch another assault in the form of raising her arms behind her head so that I now not only have to endure her fucking elbow in my face, but also the stench of her smelly armpit.

Also not a respectful way to sit in one’s chair. My elbow is occupying precious rib space of neighbours.

3. With your feet or legs

I get that sitting on a bus is not always comfortable. But just deal with it. This does not mean that you should stick your feet on the back of my chair space over my knees. Stick your feet on the person-in-front-of-you’s chair, and annoy them (unless I am the person sitting in front of you), but there is no need to cross your legs over into my fucking bus territory and invade my already small area with your stinky, infested feet.

This also stands from the view point of those that are so lazy that they can’t even sit in their seat and feel the need to lay down across three, the two in their space, then occupy the aisle, and then even better, but their stinky fucking toes in my bus space. “Hello! Sitting here, get your filthy fucking feet off me!”

Better yet, there are the bros who seem to think that their testicles resemble those of Randy’s on South Park when he microwaved them to give himself ball cancer and they got so big he couldn’t get through the front door. Just do a bit of a rearrange. You don’t see me sitting there with my arms spread out like I’m Jesus because I have giant boobs. Get over yourselves!

Sitting like a bro cause I have a misguided belief that I have bull-sized testicles.

Of course, the biggest problem with this is passive aggression. If you politely point out to someone that they are invading your space, they look at you like you are then the bitch and they then find other ways to invade your space or annoy you for a six-hour journey. And then if you choose aggression, aggression, be prepared for a fight because the Latina’s know how to get their bitch on. So instead, I choose to fight with patience and passive aggression, by holding fast to my areas in a way that will often wind up with them tiring out because they don’t have the strength of body and mind to keep the strong-hold. And if they even look like taking another part of my area, I launch another assault front with another part of my body to prevent them entering my territory. Eventually they will relent to the impenetrable walls of the Dano defence and maybe just for once, I can get some fucking sleep on a bus.

PS. To the one man who invaded my bus space because he was overweight. Yes, at first I was annoyed. But I realised later that there was nothing you could do about it and you tried your best. You even kept me warm in the frigid air conditioning by being a human radiator and offering to share your blankey with me. I’m ok with you. You’re a lovely and considerate human. If only now we can smack down on and teach the rest of the Bus Bitches some manners and the bus can be a wonderful place for all.

 

Shit I Learned In Ecuador – Part 2

In a follow up to Shit I Learned In Ecuador – Part 1, most of which was fairly ridiculous, I would like to touch on some other interesting shit that is not so ridiculous in the funny sense (and then maybe round it out with some more ridiculous in the funny sense).

Politics

  • According to the last census the country had in 2010, Ecuador consists of 70% mixed race populations (Spanish and indigenous mixes), 7% indigenous, 4% Chinese and 2% white people.
  • Ecuador prospered under their president, Rafael Correa, who put a lot of money into the development of roads, hospitals and other social programs in Ecuador. But then, like all good politicians, he realised, “Oops, I fucked up and spent too much money… what am I going to do to get it back?”
  • The method for making back the money was to then kick all of the indigenous people off their land so that the government could then go in and mine it for oil and minerals…….
  • The country had a referendum and decided that as a country they did not want this because Ecuador is known for its biodiversity and they don’t want the government going about fucking shit up for everyone and kicking people off their land because they are greedy bastards looking for the easy option.
Some jungle that will fail to exist if the powers that be start digging

Indigenous Tidbits

  • The indigenous community of the Otavalos in the north believe that hair contains their energy. Cutting the end of your hair off is bad news, whether you’re a man or a woman. Looks like when I go home I will just tell my mum I’ve become Otavalan to avoid a haircut. Though it does tend to break a lot…. I wonder if that means bad energy for me.
  • The reason that many of the indigenous communities here have such fabulous fabrics is because the Spanish used them as slaves to weave fabrics.
The Nizag people of Alausi doing traditional dance
  • They teach the Quechuan language in schools to help maintain the native language here. It is the native language of the Incans though there are different dialects throughout. Some Quechuan words that I learned are:
    • Mama – mum
    • Wawa – baby
    • Achachai – how cold
    • Ararai – how hot
    • Chichaqui – hungover

Random rituals

  • So it comes to be in a random shaman’s office in Quito that I am introduced to what my guide calls “the shrunky head” or more officially known as a tzantza. So, in the Amazon, it was a rite of passage to sever off your enemy’s head, peel all of the skin off, chuck it in a pot with some herbs and other shit to shrink the skin, then carefully remould the facial features so you can put your new little totem on a stick and carry him around with you everywhere. Not joking. Apparently carrying such heads of enemies with you is good luck and shrinking them means the soul can’t escape and wrought revenge upon you……
A fake ‘shrunky head’
  • On New Years Eve there are loads of different rituals that people partake in for different reasons. If they want more money, they wear yellow underpants. If they want to find true love, of course, red underpants. If you want to travel then you pack your suitcase and cut laps around the block with it to bring in the new year. Oh and you make twelve wishes by stuffing twelve grapes in your mouth, making each wish as you jam it in there.

 

Shit I Learned In Ecuador – Part 1

It has been a while since I learned some shit that is entertaining for others to read. Don’t get me wrong, lots of learning has been happening, some of it life changing. But as I moved my way in and out of the glorious streets of Quito with a fabulous guide by the name of Stefani, I was certainly educated on some interesting things in the Ecuadorean cultural sense. Here is what I learned…..

Cuy

The word in this region for guinea pig. Also considered a delicacy that I am yet to try. I just cannot seem to eat the face of my childhood pet, Muffy, that my sister and I used to shampoo and then blowdry in the sink much to the horror of my mother who thought we would kill it. That and a typical garnish is a tomato helmet. I just can’t even….. Anyway, here is what I learned about them.

Tasty snacks and energy healing weapons running around the floor of an indigenous house
  • The name ‘cuy’ comes from the sound that they make “coi, coi, coi, coi’.
  • They are sacred animals and used to live in the houses with the indigenous people.
  • They are not only considered sacred, but are used in ritual cleansing of the body. Not even kidding. Here’s how you do it.
    1. Start feeling unwell and think ‘hmmm…. something is wrong with me. I know, the guinea pig will tell me what is wrong’
    2. Grab the guinea pig like a body wash sponge that you would use in the shower and rub that squirming little animal all over your body. The animal will apparently extract the bad energy and give indications as to what is wrong with you in autopsy. (PS. I am sure from the shock of having to see and touch your naked body, this will cause the guinea pig a horrific and terrible death in which it will die of extreme shock).
    3. Guinea pig autopsy. Cut the thing open and examine all of its organs. Whatever appears to be wrong with the guinea pig is what is said to be wrong with you. Our guide said that she had a parasite and after rubbing the guinea pig on her stomach that when they autopsied the dead pig that shit was wriggling around in its stomach. Ewww…..
    4. Four. Eat the meat of the guinea pig I suppose unless there is some muscular problem and get on with your day, now well and purged of illness and bad energy.

Bones

Bones are considered to be a protective force in the culture of the Ecuadorean indigenous. They would use the vertebra of dead humans and sometimes cows hooves to decorate the entrances of the houses to ward off the evil spirits and for good luck. Oh and to ward off the evilness of people who don’t believe in Jesus….. yeah I know?? Hmmm…..To the point where people started digging up bodies in the cemeteries so that they could keep human bones in their houses. Sometimes they keep a single bone of a loved one that they have buried in the house as that is also thought to be a form of protection for the house and people who live in it.

Human vertebra and stone floor in an entrance way to a house. Didn’t stop my non-Jesus-believing self from entering. Clearly doesn’t work.

Encebollado and bones

So the most famous soup of Ecuador is called Encebollado and it is literally everywhere. They tell me that it is a mix of all of the ingredients that would normally go into a ceviche but with a different type of fish. There was one dude in Quito who had what was considered the best encebollado in the entire country and people would come far and wide to sample it. People were scrambling for the recipe and to figure out what he did that made it so special.

What was the secret ingredient you ask? Well the man, superstitiously for the last seventy years had been stirring his fabulous broth with a femur. Not just any femur though, a human femur. An actual real fucking human femur. I say no more.

Other tidbits

  • All of the roses used in the British Royal wedding were from Ecuador. They also used roses from Ecuador to film The Beauty and the Beast. When the last petal fell, it was from a cursed Ecuadorean rose.
  • Don’t fuck with Ecuadorean artists. One of them was commissioned to do the trimmings on a house in the old town but they refused to pay him the last instalment. As an ode to ‘fuck you’ to both the owners of the house and of course to the Catholic church, he endowed one of the lovely cherubs with the most giant penis you’ve ever seen on a cherub, waving its engorged salute to the church directly over the road.
Check out the schlong on that thing!
  • Ecuador first started to export chocolate in the 1820’s and thank god for that. I am pretty sure that since arriving here I have become about 70% cacao.

Given the sheer amount of shit that I have learned here over quite a large amount of time, stay tuned for Shit I Learned In Ecuador – Part 2, coming to you next week!