DEVOURING QUITO With Jet Set Zero

Lunch in La Floresta, QuitoCeviche de Camaron in La Floresta, QuitoAlmuerzo in La Floresta, QuitoJet Set Zero in Quito having lunchKid playing in the restaurant while JSZ lunches in La FlorestaI LAST SAW JENNA MEISTER TWO YEARS AGO when we convened in South America for a two-week trek from Buenos Aires to Rio.

In Argentina, we spent our pesos on extra large steaks – roughly equivalent to a small loaf of bread – and washed away our twentysomething woes with Malbec. In Brasilia, we breakfasted, lunched, and dinner-ed on pão de queijo and sliced meats at the buffet-style churrascarias. In this way, we made new memories over food while reminiscing about those blissful college years when we were roommates who spent the bulk of our days in the dining hall. Minus the collegiate setting, not too much has changed.

Last week, Jenna emailed me from Quito where she’s been living with the cast of Jet Set Zero since early May. Jet Set Zero is a travel web video series that follows four wanderlusters in their mission to see the world. That’s Jenna on the left with her co-cast members Ryan in purple and smiling Freddie in gray. It’s like The Real World with less glamour, more hustling; fewer five-star hotels and more five-dollar-per-night hostel stays.

I wanted to visit Jenna in South America, but didn’t plan to leave til July. In a surprise turn of events – and because petty thievery abounds here – Jet Set Zero‘s camera got stolen and the team learned the hard way that Ecuadorian customs and security checks makes the mailing of electronics near impossible. Would I be their camera mule?

So here I am, four days into Quito. Internet is spotty here, but the living, eating, and traveling is cheap. One US dollar buys a cab ride to La Mariscal, the “tourist ghetto”, where Jenna works in an Irish-run Vietnamese restaurant; two dollars is a one-way bus ticket to Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest – home of orchids, lush canopies, and a gazillion types of birds, like roosters who crow without stop between four and seven in the morning – two hours away; and fifty cents equals two homemade cheese empanadas sold by ebullient bus-hopping food vendors en route to Mindo.

The Jet Set Zero clan went rock climbing yesterday while I maintained my stubborn fear of heights and took photos from the ground. Afterward, we stopped by a small cafe for almuerzos aka daily set lunches comprised of potato soup, a rice dish with chicken or beef, and a glass of juice. At around $1.50 for three courses, almuerzos are a steal, but I chose to splurge and spent four dollars on a tangy shrimp ceviche instead. “This is how the locals do it” Freddie said, topping his own bowl of ceviche with popcorn.

While waiting for our meal, I spotted the cafe owner’s young son peeking at us from under a table across the room. Behind him, Mexico just beat France on the cafe’s staticky 20-inch TV. I was struck by the distance between us and the World Cup in South Africa just then and, for a second, I thought of other far away places, like New York City. amy june 18, 2010

MORE FROM ECUADOR
Looks Like Chicken, Tastes Like Guinea Pig
To Mercado, To Mercado In Santa Clara, Quito
VIDEO Stupidly Simple Snacks • Guacamole!

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June 18, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Seafood, South America, Travel.

5 Comments

  1. martin replied:

    that was awesome, amy. great post.

  2. Amy replied:

    Great to hear from you, Martin! Thanks for reading my latest piece 🙂

  3. Jamell replied:

    nice post, and very creative ceviche with popcorn

  4. Jessica Lee Binder replied:

    Love these pictures! Wish I could get all that food for a few bucks! Miss you!

  5. Nicole replied:

    glad everything is going well. Miss you!!

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