Ecuador – A few weekends ago while in Riobamba, I noted a simple-yet attractive sign inside a small cafe across the street from my hostal. White chalk on a large blackboard, it nudged the reader to take a seat. Perky hummingbirds hovered around the letters while whimsical lightbulbs illustrated the decor. How could one not stop and give them a little business?
The petite cafe was well scrubbed and inviting, and a soundtrack of unobtrusive music added to the atmosphere. The sign made me smile as I sipped what might have been the worst moccachino I’ve ever had as I waited on friends! The grilled cheese sandwich, however, was well made, and the owners were kind and attentive. In time, they’ll work out a better option for the coffee; my entire breakfast was an whopping three dollars! I marvel and often wonder how Ecuadorian restauranteurs can survive on such low prices!
Working on photos, I realized the growing number of images I have taken of signs. Here are a few that might make you smile:
Age before beauty, Miguelito presides over the Bahia de Caraquez area, where pre-earthquake schoolchildren kept him company. (How many of you know the words to the following song?)
(Does anyone know if Miguel survived the earthquake, and if he is in the same location?)
Within days of the April 16th earthquake, the people of Mindo donated food and supplies for a relief caravan to the coast. Many of the locals stayed, slept on the streets and helped the recovery teams.
(Mirador Restaurant – Los Bancos, near Mindo)
The Crimson-rumped Toucanet looks as if it is part of the sign, but no, it was alive and very well at the Mirador Restaurant in Los Bancos. One of several fledglings, it had little fear of the humans that provided an almost-endless supply of bananas shared by a wide range of local birds.
Chimborazo Volcano, way way way high in the Andes…..
One might not find toucans at the much-higher elevations near Chimborazo Volcano, but equally-endearing mammals are unique to the wind-swept paramo.. .Not only llamas, but vicuna live there as well. This sign, near Chimborazo’s base camp, adds whimsy to an area where many ‘brake’ to take photos. (More about that trip will follow as soon as the logjam of stories finds its way to ‘Publish.’)
…………………………… Next stop: Mindo Ecuador …………….
Back in Mindo, a new friend gave me directions to her mother’s cafe. Specializing in desserts and coffee, this Chinchinal Cafe blends so well into the environment that many people miss it completely! Following the prompts, I was rewarded with a comfortable rear porch garden pavillion, a sprinkling of tables and an ultra-quiet setting. It is a fantastic place to sit with a friend and enjoy a one-dollar cup of extra-stout coffee while sampling the ‘Dessert of the Day.’
Recently my friend Cynthia and I swapped stories while enjoying lunch at Restaurante El Tigrillo in Mindo. Luis, who often helps at the restaurant, is also a birding guide. When he has time, he helps with repair and maintenance at the Cinto property. As he dashed from table to table and back to the kitchen, he paused, looked at me and stated, “Lisa. When do you and Cynthia want to go to Rio Bravo?”
I gave Cynthia a bit of an ‘oops’ look and quickly explained that I had not mentioned the proposed outing to her yet; after all, I had been to Riobamba/Chimborazo and back, participated in the ‘Swing Olympics’ over Rio Cinto, trekked to the top of the ridge — and this was the first time I had seen her! She and I had heard others mention ‘Rio Bravo’ and its waterfall, though we knew little more about the property – except that it belonged to Luis and his family.
“Would you like to go tomorrow?” he asked, “or the next day… I plan to go there tomorrow and spend the night.”
We agreed to go the next day, and Luis added, “Do not worry about bringing food. I will take care of lunch.” He said that we could bring something to drink for the trek to the waterfall.
The rest of this story deserves its own post, but here is a sneak peek – the entrance to Rio Bravo and a few of the signs on the trails.
………(Will save the waterfall images for a proper post in the future!)………………
The final sign is not bilingual, but it amused me – and most likely will amuse you as well. The sign was posted on a steep-switchback drive out of Otavalo on the way to Condor Park.
(Who would like to translate this one?! Please add comments that will make us all smile!)
The Cinto property changed ownership this past week! I will share more details soon, but as you can see, my dance card has been quite full! As always, thanks for your support.
More soon! Lisa