Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lagunas Mojanda

Lagunas Mojanda
Originally uploaded by rdlurie
I´ve been trying to get to Lagunas Mojandas since March, and it was worth the wait. A nice hostal called La Luna is nearby, and a few of us PC types went up for the night, and then a day of hiking. Some more photos at flickr link

The Beer Post

b double e double r u n
Originally uploaded by rdlurie
After months of teasers, this is sure to be a letdown! But it´s been fun doing the legwork, I assure you. ´First, photo credits- the photo is by Maria Grillo, Omnibus 97, ripped from Chrystal Smiths laptop and used here shamelessly. The subject is Mo, caught in a quiet moment during our totally against the rules debauch in Cungahua a few months ago and I think it is one of the best Peace Corps/beer photos(there are millions) in human history.

Pilsener - it´s not a type of beer, it´s a brand. There are others, Club(pr.¨cloob¨), Club Verde, Brahma, Clausen, Dorada,several ¨lites¨(not reviewed). There is supposedly a brand called Biela, but I have yet to see it. There are microbreweries in Quito, I have been to only one - and the beer was undrinkable - overcarbonated and way too fruity. According to Quito veterans, there are very good microbreweries in Quito - including a place called Turtles Head, maybe somewhere down the line I´ll get to try them.

Meanwhile, we´re focusing on good, cheap, regular beer. And that´s what Ecuadorean beer is all about. Pilsener is without a doubt the king of beers here - but Club Verde is a much better brew, using the word ¨¨better¨advisedly. Both are lightweights in terms of alcohol, about 4.5%, or a little less. Suits me fine, of course.

Here´s the clincher - a 12 ouncer of Club Verde, in a Euro style green bottle, goes for about 1.25 in the tiendas, if they have it. A big 22 ouncer of Pilsener (returnable) goes for .70 centavos. Prices somewhat higher in restaraunts. Most of us are going to go for the 22 everytime - the quality difference is simply not significant enough to do otherwise, especially when one is living on 7 dollars a day - or much less if you´re an average Ecuatoriano campesino. And when you´re thirsty, and when it´s cold, really cold - man the Pilsener is not too bad - I´d take it over Bud or Coors or Mich any day of the week . A little bit like High Life, if not a little better. Dorada, also by the same brewery, is the same price as Pilsener, but suffers a marked decline in quality.

Interesting to note that both Club and Pilsener are brewed by the same company, some folks think they are the same beers only presented differently. I don´t agree - especially regarding Club Verde. The regular Club is often sold in cans and is horrible, undrinkable except in cases of dire emergency.

One can find, in restaraunts and haciendas, imports like Heinekin and a few Canadian Brews, and in Riobamba we came across a German Deli that had a few Heffenweises and Oktoberfests - Spachen? I think they were. But the bottom line - if you´re going to drink beer in Ecuador, you are going to drink Pilsener. And you´re gonna like it.

My best beer drinking experience (with Ecuatorianos) to date was on Father´s Day. I had no idea what day it was, but at 11AM Gilberto was at my door with a cup of beer - ¨Feliz del dia de padre!¨ and all his brothers and in laws were downstairs coaxing me out of my morning reverie. I chucked my days plans out the window and joined them - we drank about 20 bottles of Pilsener between us, every single drop from a plastic cup passed continuously. I got out my guitar, we found some plastic buckets and cardboard boxes to bang on, and Gilberto´s brother played all afternoon. Around sundown one of the proud dads sent his 9 year old son to the tienda with a 10 spot to buy a bottle of whisky - at that point, I made my apologies and called it a night. Ecuatorianos handle their beer well - but put whisky and rum in them and you have no idea what could happen, except it probably won´t be good.

Well, now I´m thirsty, and I´m in Ibarra, and it´s close enough to dinner time to think about eating - some fried pig, with some llapingachos and mote, and a big cold Pilsener. Buen Provecho!