01-18-2013, 07:13 PM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
I had a day to kill and get half-assed orgianized before Mrs RB arrived on the first. Thought I would wander over to Freedom Bike Rentals about 2 blocks from Casa Helbling. They have a great website with loads of information about travelling in Ecuador. Met Sylvain in the store and he offered to order a new rear tire for me when they send their next order in. He and Court who I'd had some email correspondence with are great people.
Then went over to the “Gringo Mall” to see if I can get an Ecuador chip for my POS phone and maybe track down some of the apparently mandatory bike insurance.
Here's the “Food Court” on the top floor . . . any questions why it is called the “Gringo Mall”?
Next to the store to get my cell phone chip was this abomination. My God, what were they thinking? Like a Siren, the draw was almost insurmountable but, I persevered . . . kinda.
Got my chip for about $7 - damn phone still doesn't work right. Didn't find the insurance.
On the way to the Mall, walked past this huge yard full of tow trucks and driver training cars, trucks and buses, a bunch of simulator vans and a little mini-road system. The Ecuador Auto Club’s driver training program. Impressive. This was a small part of the huge yard.
Also saw a number of these bike racks. Apparently the City sponsors a really cheap bike rental program. Kind of goofy looking bikes but, cheap transportation
Since Colombia, have been noticing people with dummys of all shapes and sizes. At first they were being used by groups to stop people for donations. Then started to notice them sitting in front of stores then see them on the front of cars.
Even Casa Helbling had one
Some people apparently make them and sell them and the masks on the side of the road.
The tradition is that the dummy contains all the bad luck of the past year and on New Years they are burned or, even better, blown up – destroying all the bad luck and letting you start with a clean slate for the new year.
Went to find dinner at a restaurant a few blocks from Casa Helbling an area nicknamed Gringolandia – amazing how the Gringo theme seems to permeate in this town. Lots of bars, restaurants and hostels.
Some of locals getting primed for New Years party.
The restaraunt is mama Clorindas which serves authentic Ecuadorian food. Had the Llapingachos with 2 meats - sausage and pork, which are hidden under the fried egg. Excellent!
Desert was Pristiños - a pastry kind of like Horse Blankets you get at the County Fair with a really good sauce to dip in.
The New Years fireworks/firecrackers started at about 10 o'çlock and went steady for at least 3 hours. When I mean steady, think of a string of those little firecrackers we used to get as kids then multiply that by a few dozen, constant and much louder. I’m sure some of them would be a decent fraction of a stick of dynamite. Look outside and the town is enveloped in a cloud of burned black powder.