Friday, October 14, 2005

Ecuadorian miscellany

On the subject of incompetent local criminals... according to my Dad´s last email: "Excitement monday nite on the block. Everyother car on our side of the block had its drivers side window shot out with bb gun. My car was skipped!!!!! The Wed Journal said they caught the four kids later that nite. two bb guns under the seat." And while I´m sharing local (aka Oak Park) news, my dad also reports that: "Edy's (the ice cream store that has the honor of being my first employer) is closed, will reopen as "Fire and Ice", a bakery, ice creamery, and sandwich parlor." Movin on up indeed... Thus marks the fall of downtown Oak Park´s only ice cream store for the common man... only classy creameries from here on out. They´ve already got a Ben and Jerry´s and Katie´s nemesis Coldstone Creamery.

OK, so no one cares about Oak Park except my parents who were the bearers of such news in the first place. And I promised only intriguing travelogue about Quito from here on out. Let´s see what fascinating facts about Ecuador I can come up with...

1) They have a weird fascination with oatmeal here. It´s like what soy is in the US, oatmeal is here. They´re particularly into making drinks out of it. There are a bunch of brands that you can buy in the supermarket, or you can make your own. Don´t worry, it´s not all gross and chunky. Oatmeal... flour, I guess it would be called, is commonly sold here. In what must be a legacy of good old capitalist colonialism, there is a "traditional" fruity oatmeal drink called "Quaker". And it´s in all the beauty products of course. Although camomille (manzanilla) is even more omnipresent in that line of products.

2) Speaking of which, as hard as it is to find women´s jeans minus the spandex, it may be even harder to find toilet paper without perfume. (It´s as bad as laundry products in the US) OK, I get that the toilet paper here is gonna hang out in the garbage for awhile, instead of going out to sea. But I´d really prefer to toss some baking soda in my trashcan instead of applying the perfume directly upon use, thank you very much.

3) Most disturbing trivia. Maximum prison sentence for drug charges? 22 years. Maximum prison sentence for murder? 16 years.

Alright, it´s Friday, and I´m out of here. Plans for the weekend include:
1) Unpacking
2) Laundry for the first time. This will involve frequenting one of the many full service laundry places, since my house is only equipped with a good old fashioned outdoor washing thingy (and the requisite black housekeeper, whose services my rent does not cover.) Which I would be more than willing to get down and dirty with, except that I have no idea how on earth to use one, and would most likely only cause flooding and embarassment for myself. And apparently laundromats do not exist here. In general, I´m a little overwhelmed by the full-service culture. For example, yesterday I bought a little desk lamp at a glorified dollar store. When I went to pay, it turns out I was supposed to go over to the service counter first so they could break out the lamp and give it a trial run. Apparently this is standard. Who knew?
3) Finally seeing a movie. Hopefully I can find one with subtitles rather than dubbing.


  1. Ok, this comment is in the vein of "you can take Ellen out of teaching but you can't take the teacher out of Ellen": why is camomille flavored oatmeal (which sounds like a marketing disaster to me) called "manzanilla" when "manzana" means "apple"?

  2. WHAT do they do with the (used) toiled paper? WHAT? WHAT? These are exclamations of horror, not actual requests for more information. I beg of you, no more information.

  3. correction. The oatmeal is not flavored with camomille. These are unrelated ecuadorian obsessions. There´s lots of oatmeal, and lots of camomille. And I have no idea why they call it that. On a related note, naranjilla is a popular fruit here, and it does actually look kind of like an orange, but on the inside its a big mess of giant seeds, kind of like a pomegranate but more liquidy.

    And Linda, at least I´m not in Thailand or another country where not only does one not flush the toilet paper, but one has to flush the toilet manually by pouring water down it. If it´s even a real toilet and not a hole in the ground.

  4. Hey, my family flushes the toilet manually by pouring water into it to save water. That's far less icky than putting your used toilet paper in the trash!