While working at Secret Garden Cotopaxi (SGC) we where a bit isolated from civilization. No internet, no landline, a single cell phone with one bar of reception and no people (other than guests and a couple of employees). That is one reason we were quite happy to be invited to a party in Machachi.
The city/town of Machachi is the nearest population to SGC (a 45 minute drive), it is also the home to some of Secret Garden’s employees including the main transport man and general Mensch: Don Arturo. Don Arturo invited us to a shindig at his house and insisted we attend, we accepted and even changed our departure date from SGC for this event.
The night of the event we donned our best party clothes (very slim pickins’) and crammed into the LandCruiser for the 45 minute drive to Machachi. When we arrived at Arturo’s the party was already hopping, there was a large party tent in the backyard and a DJ set up inside the house. Arturo received us with great big hugs and a small gift commemorating his sons first communion (apparently the party had two-fold meaning; in honor of the communion of his son and a house warming party, we were informed of neither until we arrived at the party).
We were quickly shuffled into the house and sat on the dining room table, where we quickly received our dinner which included a wonderful chicken soup and as a main plate a big juicy BBQ’d Cuy (Guinea pig). Let me (Luis) take a minute to say that even though I am extremely open minded about food and you could even say I am adventurous about eating (bugs do not bother me and offal is always a treat), but Cuy is definitely not my cup o’ tea. I have tried it on 4 different occasions, cooked 3 different ways and no go. Surprisingly enough Lacey, the timid eater who a few years ago did not like beets, enjoys the tiny rodent! Well, enough sidenotes… [flickr id=”6523194743″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]
While enjoying our dinner we where sort of the center of attention because we were next to the dance floor and the only ones at the dinner table and the only ones with big fat Cuy on their plate… every one else was enjoying chicken while standing or at party chairs spread around the house. It was awkward, but we lived. Before I even finished my dinner an older (than me) lady grabbed my hand and pulled me to the dance floor… now to some reading this that may mean little, but folks who know me realize that for me to dance there usually is a blue moon and lots of alcohol involved. It was quite enjoyable and very awkward. I did not do much dancing, just a few songs, but Lacey definitely shuffled for a while. [flickr id=”6523196461″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]
We did discover one interesting thing about drinking alcoholic beverages in this region. Nobody at the party had a drink in their hand, but several people had bottles and a small glass on their hands. They go around and when they feel you need a drink they pour you one and you must drink it (as a straight gulp) in front of them. Let me tell you, being the oddity at a party does not pay over here (unless you like a never-ending parade of shots). Within 20 minutes I had probably had 10 shots of random alcoholic treats… whisky, rum, moonshine, and best of all an Ecuadorian spirit called Zhumir (ethilic alcohol with artificial flavorings horrible stuff). Arturo’s dad was particularly fond of us and delivered shots every few minutes! How could I say no? [flickr id=”6523195451″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”] [flickr id=”6523195293″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]
It was a wonderful evening that we will never forget. Gracias Don Arturo.