Our morning started with a knock on our door…it was Giff’s mom, sister and brother-in-law. They flew from Ohio to join us for a week in the Galapagos. After many hugs and chatting we all went downstairs for breakfast before exploring the city of Quito.
The first thing we noticed was the air…it was much less polluted in comparison to Lima. The cars here seem newer and aren’t giving off that black diesel smoke.
Our first stop of the day was to the center of the world (mitad del mundo). A 40 minute drive took us to the Ecuador museum, latitude 00’00’00. For a few dollars each (the currency of Ecuador has been the US dollar since 2000)… a tour guide walked us around the outdoor museum. He first talked to us about the local indigenous people…the various tribes. He showed us what their typical houses looked like, how they cooked, the foods they ate, etc. He also showed us their ancient tradition of shrinking heads. There was one on display from a child. He explained to us how they would remove the skull from the skin on the face and then heat these heads with hot stones…dehydrating them to the point where the head would shrink. They also sowed the mouth shut so the evil spirit would be trapped into the shrunken head forever. Did I mention the pictured charts with step by step instructions on the proper way to shrink a head from start to finish. Seriously?
The next area was the fun part. They had all kinds of little tricks to show us the strength of the magnetic field at the equator. They had 2 sinks, one on the north and the south side of the red line running down the sidewalk which represented the actual equator. These sinks were no more than 10 feet apart…but when they poured water into the sink on the north side of the equator it twirled one way and when they poured water into the sink on the south side of the equator the water twirled the opposite way. They also had 2 nails standing upright and we took turns taking an egg and placing it on the nail-head. It took some patience, but some of us were able to get the egg to sit on the nail.
After our equator fun, we had our taxi take us to the center of Quito. It was buzzing with people. We noticed the Spanish influenced architecture right away. We strolled through some of the main squares taking pictures. We ducked into one of the churches and were impressed with the rich detail of the interior.
We stopped at a little coffee shop and ordered Ecuadorian coffees and hot chocolate. We looked at the map to figure out where we were and where we wanted to go. After our break, we continued walking the through the streets. There were various vendors selling all sorts of street foods and a big indoor market full of clothes and shoes and electronics. We made our way through the market and then walked uphill towards an absolutely picturesque church, La Basilica. We took several pictures standing outside before heading back to our hotel to get freshened up.
Back at the hotel, we got ready for dinner and then caught a taxi to a restaurant recommended to us by the hotel. Even though the restaurant was only a few blocks away, we were told it was not safe to walk in the dark in this area…which by the way was a main tourist area.
For dinner we ordered the shrimp ceviche which was a signature dish. We have had ceviche before but this one was served with popcorn, huge roasted corn kernels and plantain chips…and for some weird reason…it actually worked. The ceviche was definitely delicious, but the other dishes were nothing to write about.
After dinner we all went back to the hotel to get to bed. Tomorrow we will be on a cruise to the Galapagos!
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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