Natasha in Ecuador – Blog 11
Embrace the weird and wonderful
I ate someone´s pet…….Ok, well not literally. However, it felt like it considering that Guinea Pigs are kept as household pets back in New Zealand. If you tell Ecuadorians this, they simply give you a “New Zealander’s are crazy” kind of look. As an Ecuadorian delicacy we were obliged to try the little piggies at some point – and what better time than one of our fellow volunteer’s 18th birthday! Happy Birthday again James, you are an awesome guy. Side note: with one other volunteer yet to turn the big 1-8 (and not until August!!), this time really made me realise how young we all are. On the other side of the world, volunteering (working full time in full on roles), fending for ourselves in many ways, and most set to travel South America. In fact, after explaining what we are doing here to every other traveller we meet, most of them can’t believe we are the ages we are. You get responses along the lines of “wow, and you’re only 18?” or “Man, I wish I did something like this when I was your age,” or “aren’t you still supposed to be living with your parents?” Side note ended – let’s get back to the subject of eating pets!
After a surprise afternoon full of sweets, board games and pool, we taxied off to a restaurant booked by another volunteer’s host dad. Having pre-booked for 4 guinea pigs between the 8 of us (that’s half a guinea pig each for those that can’t do maths), at a price of $16 for each pig (or so we thought) many of us were a tad apprehensive about paying $8 each for the meal. That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Ecuador has ruined us. In a place where you can buy a full meal for $2, sometimes less, having to fork out a whole $8 seems like a big deal. I think I will be putting up a fight when I arrive home to $20 meals out – I may even write a letter. The high price aside we decided to sit back and enjoy. It would be a cliché to say it tasted like chicken, but I kind of did; chicken and duck – especially the skin. In a nut shell it tasted like decent but incredibly salty meat. I think the wow factor was the visible appearance instead. Whole heads, with teeth attached, and body parts with feet that still had its claws. It was an experience. Full of pet and ready to leave we went to pay the bill……… $95 USD…… WHAT?!! $95 for 4 guinea pigs and 5 bottles of water?! Stunned would be an apt word to describe the atmosphere at the time. The cheeky piggies deceived us; they were actually $20 a head. We knew they were an expensive delicacy, and in all fairness $20 is still relatively cheap for the little buggers, but it was a blow. Nonetheless, we have tried them now, and it was for the birthday boy! James, you better have enjoyed them!
Every day here is filled with weird and wonderful experiences. Example in point, I hopped on the bus this afternoon on my way home and on boarding the crowded (as always) vehicle I came face to face with a clown. “What is a clown doing on a bus,” you ask? Well, I say, that is a very good question! I have absolutely no idea. All I do know is that he drew even more attention to me than usual – you get a lot of attention as a white, blonde girl on a crowded Ecuadorian bus – with a couple of jokes. Which of course I didn’t understand, but I laughed along anyway. The other passengers were loving it! Just call me ´the clowns assistant´! If you let them these weird and wonderful little moments have the power to completely turn your mood around. Like a smile from a stranger, they are able to lift you out of a temporary crappy mood and show you that life is one amazing ride; crazy, yes, difficult at times, yes, but ultimately, so much fun.