Full Stomachs and Happy Hearts

July 30, 2012 Xipixapa

In the morning, I awoke very early, and before leaving to see the whales, I needed to eat a tasty treat of hornado manabita.  Hornado is roast pig, cooked whole, In Ecuadorian cuisine.  It is often served in highland markets and generally accompanied by vegetables and hominy.  You can only find them in the markets on Mondays.  The pig meat is cooked all night over a fire.  There are two types of hornado – one is the head of the pig with nuts and green bananas, and the other is meat served as a soup with yucca.  I love it!

The best place in the world for hornado is Xipixapa, a coastal town that is an hour from Puerto Lopez.  We left at 5:00 in the morning, and arrived when everything was still dark.  Nevertheless, the market was full of people that that also woken up early to shop.  The vegetables, avocados and other fruits were very fresh.  The baker and his bread were already in the street and there is a type of cheese that although it isn’t pasteurized, it’s delicious and you can by it by the pound. 

I am in love with the people and their customs.  The women still heat the hornado with coals and I could eat this delicious meal right out of my hands.  Nearby, they were also selling bollosBollos are green bananas with peanuts and meant, very similar to hornado, but they are wrapped and cooked in banana leaves.  When we left, I bought un bollo to take home with me…it was already 7:00 in the morning and my heart and belly were full.  I was ready for a day with the whales!

July 25, 2012

Naturalists and Whales

It was Wednesday night. We, along with Machalilla National Park, had been invited to a lecture, but it was no surprise when everyone showed up late. We began around 7:30 PM.  We presented a summary on the biology, migration, and adaptations of whales. We also presented the results from our photo-identification studies, and everyone wanted to know how many whales we have identified. And finally, we could discuss the International Whaling Commission. Wendy lectured about ambient noise, marine contamination and irresponsible tourism, and how all these factors stress the animals.

In Puerto Lopez, there are 32 tourism operators and 28 tourist boats. There are around 40 naturalists.  Some naturalists are from communities such as Pital, Agua Blanca, Rio Blanco and Las Tunas. Some guides have adopted Puerto Lopez as their home, and remain here.  We feel that it is our responsibility to empower and train these guides.  We all need to help each other in order to protect the whales, and this important resource that helps us all.

From Ecuador,

Cristina