here’s the second part of my top 20 photos of 2013 thing. if you’re new here, all of them were taken in ecuador where i lived from august 2012-september 2013. these are my favorites because they’re attached to good memories and saturated in natural, heavy hues. they don’t represent a balanced look at my year, the majority of which was spent in front of a laptop surrounded by a million people in a grungy apartment. since i was undocumented most of my time there (working on getting my papers through my mom’s citizenship) i couldn’t leave the country. staying put was tough for me – a year may not seem like a lot to most folks – but ecuador is an awesome country to be stuck in. though i was hungry and had zero cents most of the time, i eventually started getting published, got my papers and had mad adventures. so fuck yeah.
on january first, 2013, i woke up on a couch in quito, ecuador. i was a newbie writer, newly illegal, completely broke and with nowhere to live. i won’t pretend to have had any epiphanies. like life, it was fucked up and awesome all at once, and not a ton has changed, except for me. probably.
i chased stories: through valleys, up volcanoes, across lakes, down jungle rivers, on beautiful beaches, into the pacific. spent the rest stoned in hammocks, swinging on ziplines, sleeping on floors, drunk in bars, dancing at shows, camping alone, touring hospital emergency rooms, talking to strangers, doing nothing, and writing everything down.
it all seems like someone else’s life right now: working full-time hours on a saturday night back in my hometown, watching a snowstorm freeze new york city outside the glass doors. i’m going through all my photos from this past year, and thought i’d compile the best of them into one of those top ten lists i’m always complaining about. it’s a two-parter.
are you a creative-type bum like me? share in the comments the best and worst times you had in 2013!
“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.”
Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Love me some windows and doorways. Been getting positive responses from these old photos I posted on my Tumblr and thought of combining a few of my favorite things in one post: this book, window porn and Venezuela. Totally random or geekishly relative?
yo! i’ve been so busy recovering from shoulder surgery, getting locked out of my facebook account, moving back to new york from quito with 3 suitcases, a cat, one working arm and no money – alone – , and catching a violent case of food poisoning as soon as i landed! great, huh? also, also, also, there’s TWO DAYS LEFT to submit to my travel zine anthology for stories from latin america, which will be made available online and in print, in spanish and english, all over da world. SO SUBMIT. i’m looking for:
stories about traveling in latin america
travel-related art – DRAWINGS, photos, photos of graff/street art around the world
- travel ephemera – train/plane/bus tickets, maps, handwritten maps, flyers, magic stuff you bought back from the road
from folks who are:
consider yourself among the latinx/chicanx diaspora
- come from a spanish-speaking country, directly or 2nd, 3rd generations, lo que sea!
historias sobre viajes en latinoamérica
dibujos, fotos, fotos de graffiti / arte de la calle o cualquier tipo de manifestación artística relacionada con viajes
- ephemero/recopilaciones de viajes – boletos del tren / avión / buses; mapas, mapas manuscritos, hojas volantes, cosas de magia que conseguiste en el camino
send submissions/inquiries/fanmail to firstname.lastname@example.org. yes if you need more time past the deadline that’s cool. si nececitas mas tiempo pasando el 15 esta completamente bien. if none of that stuff applies to you, you still can follow my beautiful exceptional one of a kind tumblr page and like this shit on facebook (on yr right) or order a copy of my travel zine everywhere all the time (all new orders will be sent out next week, loyal people who have ordered! if ya haven’t, it’s only two fiddy on etsy con free shipping) OR do all three. then you get a star.
Ecuador + Food = My Life (& this article, originally published over at Epicure & Culture. One of the best blogs out there!)
Ecuadorian cuisine is all about slowing down and savoring each bite, enjoying the company of close ones and our gifted settings. Growing up Ecuadorian in New York, opting to sit separately from the family table during meals meant not eating. We had to dine together, down each and every last flavorful crumb and never forget to compliment the chef, who in this case was my abuelita. Gratitude. Community. Culture. Food kept us connected to our roots from thousands of miles away: It wasn’t optional.
My respect for the cultural richness of Ecuador‘s gastronomy only deepened when I moved to Quito last year, a sprawling old city staring the sun right in the face by day and flooded by a cumulus mist come evening. The country’s contrasting regions – coast, Sierra and Amazon – lend themselves to a diverse, healthy and colorful cuisine that comes out decadent through Quito’s cosmopolitan lens, and global foodies are beginning to take notice. Take a visual tour of the food in Ecuador with these six encompassing courses and you’ll be booking a ticket to the ‘middle of the world’ in no time.
Quinoa Salad. Photo courtesy of Lablascovegmenu.
The United Nations has designated 2013 “the year of quinoa,” a super food so packed with protein NASA makes their astronauts consume it. But before quinoa’s international status as the epitome of healthy eating boomed, it was a dietary staple consumed by the indigenous of the Andes for over 6,000 years. The chewy grains take on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked in, so recipes reach as far as your imagination can take you.
Many eclectic indigenous communities speckle Ecuador’s diversified terrain, but the majority are counted amongst the Kichwas – a sect of the Quechua diaspora that live along the Andes. A divergent Kichwa identity exists where Ecuador’s mountainous slopes collide into the doorways of the Amazon in the East, and it’s evident that the jungle’s lively nature influences their culture. Flavors here are local, fresh and fierce, with the most exemplary fare known as maito, meaning ‘wrap’ in Kichwa. Women slow-steam fish — usually tilapia or the native carachaza — with cassava and hearts of palm in bijao leaves over charcoal. The fragrance of these banana-like leaves permeates the dish, enticing and overcoming the senses.
Quimbolito. Photo courtesy of Bani Amor.
The Quimbolito is a dessert native to the Sierra region that’s also steamed, although this time in taro leaves. The spongy pocket is made from corn flour, orange juice, vanilla essence and a generous helping of margarine punched into dough that’s sprinkled with raisins before being sealed and steamed. Like many Ecuadorian sweets, it is consumed more as a snack or pastry than after meals, perfectly paired with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. The term ‘comfort food’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Ceviche Mixto. Photo courtesy of Patcito.
I’ll flat out admit total bias – Ecuador’s take on ceviche is the best. The seafood dish can be found all over Latin America, but preparation is what really matters here. In a ceviche mixto, anything from shrimp and sea bass to mahi-mahi and black clams are soaked in a marinade of lime juice, tomato, cilantro, and red and green peppers for hours, lending the mariscos a gummy texture and sweet, tangy flavor. It’s usually topped with fried plantains or tostado, crunchy corn grains fried to perfection.
Guatita is a coastal dish made from tripe, meticulously scrubbed with lemon brine and stewed with potatoes in a peanut butter sauce until tender. It’s traditionally served piping hot with rice and a salad of purple cabbage on Sunday mornings. Tip: Guatita is an epic hangover cure.
Sipping Canelazo in Banos, Ecuador, about 180 kilometers outside of Quito. Photo courtesy offabulousfabs.
The welcoming drink of the Ecuadorian Andes is a traditional glass of canelazo, an infusion of naranjilla juice and sugarcane liquor served hot to newcomers not yet acclimated to the heights. A strong, sweet cup of canelazo serves as an elixir for anyone suffering the effects of altitude sickness – or plain epicurean thirst. Brewed with cinnamon, clove and vanilla, the anise-flavored alcohol — known as punta — takes on an entirely different body, sliding down the throat like candied velvet.
Accepting travel stories + artwork for a Spanish-language zine anthology
consider yourself among the latinx/chicanx diaspora
come from a spanish-speaking country, directly or 2nd, 3rd generations, whatever!
have a story about traveling in latin america
have any kinda travel-related art lying around – DRAWINGS, photos, photos of graff/street art around the world
have random travel ephemera – train/plane/bus tickets, maps, handwritten maps, flyers, magic stuff you bought back from the road
then you gotta:
send that shit right over!
no other choice!
by september 15!
i’m collecting travelogues, lists, adventure stories, thoughts on place, and pretty much anything poignant and written well for a spanish-language anthology of travel stories in latin america. spanglish or english is cool too, since we’ll be translating it for an english edition (but if you can, spanish please!) zine will be half page, black and white. no need to send your art in in b+w, just keep in mind it will be copied that way. 1,000 word entry limit, but we’re flexible. send whatever you got to email@example.com by september 15. internationally-syndicated multi-lingual zine yo, get in on this! tell EVERYONE. baniamor.com.
Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar. Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks.
Gloria E. Anzaldúa
The doctor was beautiful, with that kind of feathery hair you just want to reach out and run your fingers through. He had this pained expression on his face, like it hurt to be so beautiful, and the slowest movements on Earth, as if he had all the time in the world. But with parasites wringing my intestines into a neat string of nothing, inducing painful spasms every 30 seconds or so for three days, I was in a bit of a rush to swallow dem pills and get the fuck better. My name was spelled wrong on all the forms. I told him, “Actually it’s Bani. B-A-N-I.” One of the nurses by his side said, “Where is that name from?”
“And what does it mean?”
Aaaahhhh she sighs, as if That Explains Everything. When was the last time someone asked what Sarah or Michael means? No squiggly red wave underlining those names in Word. I cracked a small smile. Dr. Too Hot for Time checks the tests, diagnoses me and finally writes a prescription. I ask him about the X-Ray.
“So…what’s inside me?”