Okay, So I’m a Slacker

Diplomonkey has been slacker; no doubt about it.  No new posts about assignment Lima/Quito in far too long.  Have a slew of photos, but have been far too lazy/tired to write about my adventures.

So to make up for being such a slacker, old Diplomonkey will share some real cool photos taken today towards sunset today in Quito.

Cotopaxi volcano spewing ash

Cotopaxi Volcano #1 – Spewing Ash

Ecuador, and Quito in particular is one of Diplomonkey’s favorite haunts.  It is a crazy, funky place where anything is possible.

Cotopaxi 2

Cotopaxi Volcano #2 – Ash Plume

Enjoy the photos, Diplomonkey  certainly had fun taking these from the hotel.  Enjoying the Nikon D2x.

Cotopaxi Volcano #3

Cotopaxi Volcano #3 – Snow Cap Is Melting

These are for Sam the Hamster.

Cheers from Quito!

Postcards from Ecuador – Quito’s El Ejido Park

A sunny Sunday morning is a great time for exploring Quito. It is a treat for this wandering foreign service officer to be savored before heading off to the airport for the now all too routine four-hour hurry up-and-wait flight back to Lima.

Quito's El Ejido Park's Arco del Triunfo.

Quito’s El Ejido Park’s Arco del Triunfo.

With the aging but still reliable Nikon D70 in hand Diplomonkey squeezes in one more exploratory outing into the city.  Quito’s El Ejido Park, with its native crafts fair, not so young former backpackers selling handmade jewelry, and local artists with their paintings make for colorful backdrop.

Detail of Frieze of Quito's El Ejido Arco del Triunfo.

Detail of Frieze of Quito’s El Ejido Arco del Triunfo.

But wait, there is more. Diplomonkey hears music in the background – need to go and check it out.  Hey, it’s a duo of musicians playing Andean melodies by the Arco del Triunfo. Not too sure about the origin of the costumes, but the music is authentic enough and the quite good.

Quito Quena and Pan Flute Players.

Quito Quena (alternatively Kena) and Pan Flute Players #1

Quito Quena and Pan Flute Players #2.

Quito Quena (alternatively Kena) and Pan Flute Players #2.

Enjoy the sights, Diplomonkey sure did.


Postcards from Ecuador – Climbing Wawa Pichincha Volcano

Diplomonkey did not have anything better to do on his day off on his latest trip up to Quito than to go and climb a mountain, or in this case a volcano.  That is, the Wawa (i.e., child in the Kichwa language) Pichincha volcano towering over the city.

Which BTW lasted erupted in October 1999, covering Quito in three inches of volcanic ash.

Cable Car to the 4,100 meter mark.

View of Quito – Cable Car drop off point at the 4,100 meter mark.

Chapel on the trail up to Ruku Pichincha

Chapel on the trail up to Ruku Pichincha.

The volcano is easy to reach from Quito via a cable car that will drop you off at the 4,100 meter mark.  From there, you start climbing toward the Ruku Pichincha (i.e., old person in Kichwa) peak.  The air is thin!

Riding down from Ruku Pichincha.

Riding down from Ruku Pichincha.

Riding down from Ruku Pichincha.

Riding down from Ruku Pichincha.

Next time Diplomonkey is up in Quito, and if time permits, he will get a horse and ride up to the caldera is style.  Cool, warm ponchos are provided.

Pichincha Horse and corral at about 4,300 meters.

Pichincha Horse and corral at about 4,300 meters – will hire this one next time.

Dude running the trail down from Ruku Pichincha.

Dude running the trail down from Ruku Pichincha.

Enjoy the sights.


Postcards from Ecuador – Quito’s Church of San Francisco

Diplomonkey has been on the move once again throughout the Andes.  One of his latest sojourns has been through Quito in Republic of Ecuador; and just in time to celebrate the Fourth of July at U.S. Embassy Quito and even run into the Holy Father (i.e., the Pope) at the airport.

Quito's Church and Convent of San Francisco.

Quito’s Church and Convent of San Francisco.

View of the Jesuit Church of the Company as seen from San Francisco Church and Convent.

View of the Jesuit Church of the Company as seen from Quito’s San Francisco Church and Convent.

Interior dome and main altar of Quito's Church and Convent of San Francisco.

Interior dome and main altar of Quito’s baroque Church and Convent of San Francisco.

Quito is one of Diplomonkey’s favorite towns.  Rich in very well preserved Spanish colonial architecture, Quito offers incredible sights and sounds.  Nice people, good food, and a relaxed pace make Quito an excellent place to visit, and in Diplomonkey’s case also work.

Pulpit in Quito's Church and Convent of San Francisco.

Carved wooden pulpit in Quito’s Church and Convent of San Francisco.

Woman with Hats.

Woman with Hats.

Older Woman looking at Belts

Old Woman with Hat.

Enjoy the sights.


Home Again, Off Again…

Okay so the hours are long, the workload heavy, the time spent away from family painful; fortunately the work remains rewarding and wifie has not (yet) changed the locks on the front door.


Rice field and shack outside of Babahoyo, Ecuador.

As a Foreign Service Officer, I must explore the countryside, engage with people, and report on new things.  These are requirements that appeal however to Diplomonkey’s inner Viking’s wunder lust.

In recent travel to Ecuador alone, I have seen the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano towering over the cloud line to shrimp and tilapia farms along the Guayas River to even Arabian pure breed horses in lush mountain pastures 3,000 meters above sea level (far removed from the burning sands of their origin in the Arabian peninsula).

Cotopaxi Volcano

Cotopaxi Volcano and Quito.

Arabian Horses at Altitude.

Arabian Horses at Altitude.

Bulls Up High.

Bulls on up High.

At the same time, I have walked along the route that Francisco de Orellana took in the sixteenth century when he set out to explore and conquer the Amazon.  Pretty cool, but surreal nonetheless (can you say Indiana Jones).

Francisco de Orellana

Statute of Francisco de Orellana, Spanish Explorer and Conquistador.

Camino de los Conquistadores

Walking in the Footsteps of Orellana along the Camino de los Conquistadores.

Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guapulo and Convent - or simply the Guapulo Church

Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guapulo and Convent – or simply the Guapulo Church.

Anyhow, it’s off to Texas and Florida again in a couple of weeks to look at cattle for export to South America.  In the meantime, to make amends while still in Lima I will make wifie a Chilcano with ginger syrup tonight.  For the more adventurous, the recipe follows.  Cheers from Lima.


  • One jigger Peruvian Pisco (use the Mosto Verde – Torontel variety if possible)
  • Half a jigger of Ginger syrup
  • A dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Juice of half a Peruvian lime (somewhat similar to a large key lime), leave the seeds that fall in for effect
  • Top off with Ginger Ale (about three jigger’s worth)
  • Add an ice-cube or two and gently stir.

Diplomonkey’s Quito Adventures

Just back from stateside travel, Diplomonkey is required once again to travel, this time north to Ecuador. Yippee! The adage goes that there is no rest for the wicked; and old Diplomonkey is such a wicked little monkey – no bananas for you today, buddy boy.

So despite being home for less than a week, and that after nearly three weeks on the road, Diplomonkey heads out to Lima’s airport at dawn on a fine Sunday morning to catch a flight to white country map-land as eldest son Samtser refers to Peru’s northern neighbor. Why does Carmina Burana: O Fortuna roll around Diplomonkey’s noggin?

An unexpectedly quick, but still hour-long drive to the airport is followed by an hour-long wait to check in his bag. It seems that the traffic absent on Lima’s streets decided that Sunday morning to congregate in the Lima airport terminal. Oh well.

Fortunately there’s just enough time left before boarding to make a quick stop at Starbucks; ah the siren song of mocha coffee tempts Diplomonkey.

Starbucks Mocha Coffee

Starbucks Mocha Coffee and Alfajor

Fortified however by great coffee and an alfajor, Diplomonkey like an elephant in a china shop bursts through the ranks of massed well-wishers anxiously waving kinsfolk, friends, and significant others off to clear the security picket. At immigrations he is greeted by a somber official and given the de rigueur bureaucratic stare down. Not deterred, Diplomonkey pleasantly smiles and bids the straight-laced Ms. Bureaucrat a fond Starbucks mocha coffee-laden farewell. Ah the joys of another travel day.

Airborne, Diplomonkey sees Lima quickly fade away as his plane heads out over the Pacific and then northwards along the coast.

Peru's Northern Coast

Peru’s Northern Coast

He stares out his window and beholds a tawny-colored arid coastal plain sandwiched between a deep blue-colored ocean and the white snow-capped peaks of the Andes in the distance.

The rarefied air at 35,000 feet always makes Diplomonkey wonder at how fortunate he is to have such a great career.

By late afternoon Diplomonkey makes it out to Quito and his home-away-from-home favorite hotel with its view of the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano.

Cotopaxi Volcano

Quito City in the Shadow of Cotopaxi Volcano

Picking up a city map at the front desk and grabbing his trusty iPhone and well-traveled Nikon D-70, Diplomonkey heads out in search of Quito’s famed native handicrafts market – a leisurely twenty-minute walk down the road.

Quito Craft Market Seller 1

Quito Craft Market Woman

Quito Craft Market 2

Quito Craft Market Women 

Quito Craft Market 3

Quito Craft Market – Buyers and Sellers

Quito craft Market 4

Quito Craft Market – Pan Flute Player and Wares

At the market, on Calle Jorge Washington (i.e., George Washington street), Diplomonkey sees cool handicrafts. Limited funds, and even less free bag space, will limit purchases on this trip.  Diplomonkey realizes that retail therapy must be kept at a bare minimum, with photographinating compensating for the purchasing shortfall. Ah the joys of Chimping in one of Diplomonkey’s favorite Andean cities!

Quito Craft Market - Local Cloth

Quito Craft Market – Local Cloth


Quito Craft Market – Cotopaxi Volcano Painting


Quito Craft Market – Local Animal Spirit Masks