Welcome to Vic and Stu

Ever wonder how to become a professional eater, the story behind the Siri or how the career of an Instagram Meme Curator started?  Well we have the podcast for you, Vic and Stu on the Tues mixes both comedy and interesting guests to bring you great info and a fun time. With Vic currently living in Quito, Ecuador, we are also launching Vida La Vic. A weekly blog partly about travel, and partly about adjusting to new city in a new continent.

We’re a pod of the people, so if you have any suggestions or comments regarding the podcasts give us a shout at vicandstupodcast@gmail.com and be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and twitter @vicandstu.

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Via La Vic #8 Coastal Ecuador: Beach Cities and Returning to Guayaquil

Last week was the Ecuadorian Holiday All Soul’s day, where people celebrate the memories of their relatives that have passed away. There are festivals and parades to go along with the holiday, but two things that stood out were a special drink and desert associated with the time of the year. I started seeing several signs around for Colada Morada, a purple beverage usually served hot. It is a mix of fruits including naranjilla, babaco, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries along with other herbs. It’s got a nice smooth feel to it, and goes well with the Guaguas de Pan.  Through some local dialect, Guagua de pan translates into ‘child of bread,’ and it is a piece of bread made to look like a small child. They are often filled with chocolate, jam or other sweets. Traditionally, people leave a glass of Colada Morada and a Guagua de Pan on their relatives’ graves so they have something to enjoy on this day.

Cute, and filled with chocolate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m definitely a big fan of the holiday, especially because I got two days off work. So I decided to make a trip to Guayaquil (this time on purpose) and then head out to the beaches. I took an early flight to Guayaquil, and landed there Thursday morning. I arrived at the hostal I booked beforehand for a nap….and things didn’t go well. They said the cost would be more, and the wifi didn’t work. Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with Lindsay on the stateside, and she did some hostel research to find a better place. She is the self-proclaimed “best at finding good hostels.” After a large breakfast, I went to the second hostel…rewarded myself by paying a little extra for the room with AC and had a little nap before setting off to explore Guayaquil.

Since last time I was there, I didn’t get much time to see the inner parts of the city, I started there with a stop at Iguana Park. It is in the heart of the city, and is one of the only places you’ll see large land Iguanas casually hanging around. Some are laying out around a pool, and if you look up you can spot several among the trees. While I don’t think people should pick them up, they seemed used to having people around and were friendly. Likely because lots of people bring fruits and vegetables to feed them, so they are looking for their next meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vida la Vic #7 Over and Into Volcanos: Cotopaxi and Quilotoa

When I joined a tour to visit Cotopaxi Volcano, I knew things were going to be different. The hike starts at around 12,000 feet and we were going to ascend to where the volcano starts to become glacial at 16,400 feet. Quito‘s altitude is at around 9,000 feet, so when travelers arrive, they often need a couple days to adjust. It is common for people to have issues with head and stomach aches just from the change in the air. I was fortunate that my only problems involved having to cut a few runs short.

On the drive to the volcano, our guide took us to a stop where we could pick up coca leaves to help with the altitude. For years, the locals have been chewing coca to help them with altitude sickness. I did not have any altitude problems, so I may have to thank the leaves. In all honesty, chewing on leaves wasn’t that enjoyable.  They tasted just like leaves.

Cocoa Leaves

Not that tasty, but possibly effective

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cotopaxi is one of the most well-known volcanos in Latin America.  It is the tallest active volcano in Ecuador. It is not one of those ‘active volcanos’ that hasn’t gone off in hundreds of years. The last time it erupted was in 2015, two years ago, with ash making its way to Quito. The top of the mountain had been closed since then, and reopened around one month ago.

 

There were several reasons I was excited to take this opportunity to live in Ecuador. The culture, the food, the experiences…but after a couple years in Boston I was extremely excited to not have to deal with snow. I should have researched my volcanos before making any assumptions, because they got some snow on them! Guess my time in Boston came in handy. If I thought the clouds at Pichincha were heavy, I was fooling myself.  For most of the hike up Cotopaxi, it is difficult to see much distance because of the heavy cloud cover. It was also difficult to see a lot of the summit. There was a quick timeframe when the clouds cleared up, and I was able to see some of the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After reaching the glacial point, we started our descent. Despite a little dusting of snow, I made it down to the bus without a problem. Then came my favorite part of the day, mountain biking down an active volcano (easily the most badass sentence I have ever typed). It was a bumpy ride, but I didn’t have to do any pedaling. All I had to do was hold on and enjoy the view as gravity did the work for me. Once at the base, our group grabbed lunch at a small restaurant nearby and I stayed at a hostel outside Quito to rest for day two of the trip. I guess I was the only person who chose to do a two day trip, because I was the only person in the hostel room. It was nice having my own place and I quickly fell asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cotopaxi was hiking up an active volcano, Quilotoa was quite different. Around 800 years ago, the volcano collapsed within itself and the ice on top formed a lake in the center of the huge crater.  Instead of hiking up, this adventure was a hike down into the crater. I was picked up from the hostel that morning and after a quick stop at a market and couple hours on the road we arrived at Quilotoa.  Looking at the lake from the top is a great view. The water is magnificent.  It changes colors often because of the material underneath the water. Going down is a quick half-hour walk down and it is a great site to see up close. Several locals are at the bottom to offer rides up on mules, quite a smart idea because the walk up is a daunting one. I stayed strong though and marched my way back up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those trips were great ways to see the country, and are also great ways to meet people, especially people who spoke English. There were lots of interesting people from all over the world. I met travelers from Austria, Brazil, France, the UK and even someone from Alaska.  I was able to learn a lot and plan out some of my future trips. Those last two days were exhausting but so enjoyable. At this point, I feel like I’ve earned a relaxing Sunday night with the new season of Stranger Things. #VidalaVic

 

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Lindsay Visits Ecuador!

After two long months of living vicariously through Victor, I finally got to see Ecuador through my own eyes last week. Victor convinced me to write a blog about our incredible weekend together, so we each took different parts of the adventure. Make sure you read his post here!

I landed in Quito on a Thursday morning, groggy and disoriented after a red-eye flight and layover in Panama City. Thankfully, I was only responsible for a couple of small tasks: getting through customs without saying anything stupid, and finding Sr. Bolivar, the driver Victor had arranged. I managed to accomplish both of these tasks uneventfully, and was quickly on my way to downtown Quito.

The plan was to meet Victor at a restaurant below his apartment called The Green Choice, so I found a table and waited. After asking the store clerk for the wifi password and getting iPhone pictures of her granddaughter instead — the first of many signs that my Spanish is not what it used to be — Victor finally found me. Turns out I was in the smoothie store below The Green Choice. Oops. We took a few minutes to unpack and eat empanadas before he had to return to work, and I decided to follow him downtown to take advantage of the sunny afternoon in Quito. I took a pit stop at his office, mostly to confirm that Victor actually works while he is in Ecuador. For those readers who are wondering the same thing, I can say that he has at least found a convincing way to fake it 🙂

For the rest of the afternoon, I explored the gorgeous Parque La Carolina and wandered around Quito’s professional district. That evening, I would get my first real taste of what makes Quito special when we had dinner at a traditional Ecuadorian restaurant in the chic La Floresta district near Victor’s apartment. I ate seco de pollo as my main dish, a full plate of chicken, rice, and hot aji sauce. But the true winner was the appetizer: locro de papas. As only a true gringa could observe, the thick soup tastes like someone put mac n’ cheese and mashed potatoes into a blender and added avocado to the top. In other words, I could eat this three times a day. We ended our night with a canelazo (a warm, cinnamon-y, strong drink) at a nearby bar called El Pobre Diablo. Anthony Bourdain visited this bar when he filmed an episode of his travel show in Ecuador; since this episode was responsible for 99% of Victor’s knowledge of the country before he moved, it was only right to pay homage.

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Vida la Vic #6 How to Return from Cuenca and Incan Ruins

A lot happened in the past week and so blog will be coming in two parts. Since there was an Ecuadorian holiday the same day as Columbus Day (very unrelated), my girlfriend Lindsay took some time off to visit Ecuador. We decided to check out one of Ecuador’s more historic cities, Cuenca. We’ll be splitting up stories from the trip, so make sure to check out her blog post for the other half. There were two locations near Cuenca that we wanted to visit, the Ingapirca ruins and Cajas National Park. I’ll be covering Ingapirca, and Lindsay’s post will cover Cajas.  Before I go into Cuenca, I want to discuss the meal of the week, Fritada. This is a very typical dish containing large pieces of fried pork and plenty of sides. Fritada is usually served with avocado, a plantain, mote (a grain that tastes similar to large pieces of cooked corn), and llapingacho, which is a potato-patty with cheese. Like many dishes here, it is heavy and goes great with Aji sauce. It’s a dish you’ll see everywhere, and I know we’ll cross paths again.

There’s always an avocado sneaking into a meal.

On to Cuenca, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city is a very popular location for expats from the United States, and it is easy to see why. It doesn’t have all the calamity that comes from being a capital city like Quito: people seem calmer, I’m not constantly worried about getting hit by a car while crossing the street, and there are no extremely tall buildings…unless you count some of the churches in the area. The streets look like they came out of a fairy tale, and we had little trouble finding our AirBnB right near the Parque Calderon in the heart of the city. Once we were shown our apartment, we were warned to keep an eye out for the cat that lives in the apartment complex, Pancha. Pancha was a very nice cat, he just liked to try and sneak in people’s rooms when they weren’t paying attention. I’d like to say we were never duped by Pancha, but he got in one time and ran around for a bit until we were able to catch him.

Cuenca is old fashioned all around.

Casual Giant Ornate Church

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Vic and Stu Episode 42: Mind-Set Business Coach Taylor Dixon

Click Here -> Vic and Stu Ep 42 Taylor Dixon

On this week’s Vic and Stu on the Tues, entrepreneur Taylor Dixon joins the pod to discuss how she became a business owner right out of college, landed clients and started a new career as a mind-set business coach. If you weren’t motivated before listening, you’ll be ready to take on life after this one. She even life coaches the boys out of their problems. Any female listeners interested in joining one of her programs check her out on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/taylorloucoaching/. She still has a spot so hurry on up!

After the interview, friend of the pod Joey Levenson hops in for your favorite segments like “Beagle News” and “Weird Food Stories” along with some other topics like how to find an apartment in a new city. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to leave a review for the contest! #BabyMcBabyFace

 

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Vida La Vic #5 Otavalu, the largest market in South America

I’ve mentioned Parque La Carolina before in my first blog, but to quickly recap it is a huge park near my neighborhood where you can find any activity you’d want. There’s soccer all over the place, a dog park, a small paddleboat pond, dirt bike area, a skate park, food stands and more. One more thing they have is basketball courts, with plenty of pickup games on weekend mornings. I decided to take a run by the area Sunday morning and see if I could join a pick up game. After walking around the courts , someone on a court asked me something while signaling to group. While I didn’t know exactly what we was saying, I took that as an invitation. I had guessed correctly. I had a slow start with a mix of rust and adjusting to playing at the altitude but ended up playing for a couple hours. The Spanish I knew got me through the game as well, and ballin’ is a pretty universal language.

My big trip from this week was a tour to Northern Ecuador to visit Otavalu Market and some of the surrounding scenery. Otavalu Market is the largest outside traditional market in South America, with over 40 blocks of tents filled with colorful items to purchase. Our group arrived with over two hours to grab some lunch and shop, and it’s good to know we had a cut off time because I constantly found myself buying things. Otavalu translates to blanket of the people, to represent how warm the locals are. The tour guide let us know people are great here, just be prepared because they are salespeople. Bartering is a given, and if you don’t at least try then you’re probably getting ripped off. There were some gifts I’d been planning on grabbing, and some stuff I took home I had no intention of buying….people here are convincing. I also knew of one item I knew I had to get in Ecuador, the Panama Hat.

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Vida La Vic #4: Into the Clouds

It is crazy to think I have been in Quito for around a month. Parts of me do feel settled in, and parts of me feel like I just arrived. The food continues to be amazing, and I keep finding new things to try. One of my highlights of this week was an Ecuadorian staple, Shrimp Ceviche. If watching Anthony Bourdain taught me anything on Ecuadorian food, it’s the focus on stews. With their fresh seafood and knack for soups, the ceviche I had their blew me away. It even comes with some almost popped popcorn kernels and popped ones as well to give it a great texture and soak all the sauce. It’s a meal I’ll be going back to find. I’m also continuing to notice some improvement in my Spanish thanks to the classes I’m taking in the mornings and through speaking with the people here. The conversations still have speed bumps, like when you’re at bar or concert and someone is trying to tell you something but you can’t hear them. So after they repeat themselves a couple times, you just smile and say “yeah”.

Shrimp Ceviche will be eaten several more time

Speaking of bars, I made it to La Ronda this past weekend. John, a waiter I met in Blog #2, invited me to check out the area Saturday night. There are two major nightlife areas in Quito, La Mariscal and La Ronda. La Mariscal is filled with clubs, and is definitely geared to the younger audience. The area reminds me of some college towns, like Athens, Georgia where I attended college. I’m sure I’ll have a blog on that later. La Ronda is more on the traditional side, featuring a lot of bars that have salsa dancing, street performers, and traditional street food and beverages. La Ronda is a street that goes on for around 4-5 blocks. Cars cannot pass through, and pedestrians can walk as they please (crosswalks don’t exist in Quito. Technically they do but it’s a gamble to see if a car will stop.) Some of the local drinks are great. If I had to pick a favorite then it would be canelazo. It is a fruit juice with lots of sugar then spiked with sugar cane alcohol. It is really sweet and warm, great to have at night. It’s also strong, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. I didn’t stay out too late, as I was quite tired from my hike up the Pichincha Volcano that morning.

La Ronda, Maybe Salsa dancing time?

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