6:30 I’m barely up before the day starts with a phone call, invitation from Julio et famille to join them for fanesca at midday
9:30 Mary and Rayneda arrive, a mother and daughter Paul had met a few days earlier and invited over. R entertains me with stories of her adventures on a 2-month rotation at a family medicine residency here in Ecuador
9:35 Paul arrives home with Yarik, a bicyclist he’s met at the park and invited over. Yarik, originally from Poland, is riding his bike south to Argentina, after departing Geneva 5 months ago and sailing the Atlantic to get started.
11:30 We get off the bus in Iluman and start noticing the steady flow of people up and down the road, carrying small, lidded pots by the handle. The day warms and the sun starts to come out. According to our host, on Good Friday nearly every family cooks fanesca, a thick soup with 13 ingredients, not counting the garnishes, “Then we share.”
2:00 Oops, realize on the way down the hill that I’ve left my change bag with keys at their house. Kids and Paul head into town for Spanish class. The bag found, mama Maria and I visit while daughter Gladys runs down the street to see if our soccer game has, indeed, been changed to 2pm. I got a “no importa” to my concern that blue jeans and leather boots wasn’t what I’d planned to wear for the game. The afternoon has the feel of a mild Thanksgiving afternoon, no one with anything to do but enjoy the day and each other.
Fanesca has turned out to be one of the tastiest food items in Ecuador. Our hostess was up at 3am to stew squash, beans, favas, lentils, corn, chochos… and then on top goes tomato, onions, cheese, egg, parsley, and salted fish. Unfortunately for us foodies, it’s a once-a-year event, although Maria did tell me that the “whities” (mestizos) in Otavalo cook fanesca on the Thursday of holy week. That explains our invitation yesterday where we ate our first fanesca with the family of one of Althea’s teachers. Turns out having a diversity of friends can truly double your fun, or at least your diet.
4:00 The scary team from Cotacatchi no-shows for the soccer match. After a surprisingly short 30 minute wait, we win 1-0 after the ref has us kick off and dribble down the field to score. Assembled women, men, boys and girls, gringos, mestizos and indigenas play a 30-person game on the muddy field. The crowd goes wild.
6:30 Muddy players Kristen, Kent, Lauren and Yarik haul home, having collected another South American cyclist, this time Andy from Scotland. We’re certainly pretty messy, but given the sloshing pots (and one bucket) of fanesca already on the bus, not the only offenders. Upon seeing our instrument collection, Andy retrieves from his bike the mandolin he’s been hauling since he “bought it off an old guy in Cuenca” several months back. Lasagna, bread, bananas flambé, YouCam, “Wild Irish Thyme,” and stories from the road fill the rest of the night.
- ▼ April (15)