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Birthday celebrations

Guayaquil

31/1/14

The only class I had today was this morning, between 7-9 am; a B2 conversation class. I felt touched because one of my students gave me a special birthday cupcake. It was really big and the sponge and icing were both bright red. As soon as she'd given me it and I'd thanked her, all four of them broke out with 'Happy Birthday To You' - then the moment they finished that they carried on into the Spanish version, 'Cumpleaños Feliz'. I don't know what they do in Spain, but in Ecuador when native speakers sing 'Happy Birthday' in English, they stretch out 'ir' in 'birthday' to 'irrrrrrr'.

We did some work on fluency and some on small talk, and seeing as it was my birthday, we finished with a few snacks I'd brought in. The idea was to create a bit of a party atmosphere and provide an opportunity for small talk practice in a freer, authentic and more relaxed situation. It seemed to go down well.

Some birthday post arrived for me at the language school after my conversation class had finished. I stayed online at work for a couple of hours then took my post back to the flat, had some tuna mayo & iceberg lettuce rolls for lunch and then went back online and spoke to my nearest & dearest on Google Video chat. I had a lovely chat with Dave, and Emma, Kate and I opened our presents to each other on video. I saw our birthday cake being lit and heard 'Happy Birthday' sung to us. Mum had sent me an indoor sparkler so I lit that while on video as well. It was lovely to see everyone!

Friday night isn't the best time for us teachers to go out here because on any given week the majority of us have to be at work by 8 am on Saturday morning for class, so I saved my Guayaquil birthday celebration for the next day.

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In the evening we went to Sushi Isao, the same sushi place we went to last October, because I remembered it being very good. Apparently it's the only sushi place in Guayaquil that is actually owned by a Japanese and has Japanese chefs - there are quite a few sushi places here but they aren't as genuine.

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There were about 10 of us there. One or two ordered individual things but most of us shared two 'boats', which have 54 pieces of sushi in each one. Last time they did actually come in a boat-shaped dish but this time they were only on normal platters. The others refused to let me pay for my share of the bill!

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Before that we had a drink or two at a bar nearby called 'El Manantial'. We sat at a long table outside the front and the waiters brought us drinks. I think I've mentioned this before, but in Guayaquil people don't seem to go up to the bar to order drinks at all; ordering through waiters seems to be the done thing. I had an 'Alexander' cocktail which in Ecuador is made with brandy, Creme de Cacao, condensed milk and crushed ice, but elsewhere is usually made with gin instead of brandy and cream instead of condensed milk. They love their condensed milk here.

After the sushi we went to a sports bar. Most of the others shared something I've also seen in Brazil - a great tall container filled with beer that has a tap for you to self-dispense beer from. I had two caipirinha cocktails because they had a 2-for-1 offer. I thought something fruity would be a nice contrast to the sushi and the Alexander cocktail I'd had before.

Some people went home after that but five of us carried on back to El Manantial where we had a last drink. I had another - you guessed it - Alexander cocktail. When the place closed at 2 am I went back by taxi.

Posted by 3Traveller 03:54 Archived in Ecuador Tagged night sisters dave cocktails mum ecuador guayaquil english_teaching sushi_isao birthday_celebration Comments (0)

Sushi, cocktails and a beautiful view

Guayaquil

This is about a great night out I had last night with some of the other teachers.

It started at Restaurante Sushi Isao in Urdesa district.

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When we arrived we were given a free mixture of tuna, raw carrot, one or two unidentifiable raw vegetables and a delicious white sauce. We asked what was in the sauce but were told that the recipe was a secret! Four of us then shared a boat platter - it came piled with 54 lovely pieces of sushi. It was only $46! I tried various different kinds with different seafood - tuna, salmon, eel, another type of fish of which I didn't find out the name, and crabstick. The eel was brown and had a sweetish yet savoury sauce on it. One type of sushi came cased in a very light tempura batter, (which worked very well) and most of the nori roll types (with the seaweed casing) had a chunk or two of avocado in the middle as well as fish and a white type of sauce. I don't know whether it's common or not to have avocado in sushi in Japan - if not then I suppose this was the Ecuadorian touch.

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After Isao we got a taxi to Las Peñas district and had a couple of cocktails at a small but very colourful karaoke bar at the foot of the long steps up Cerro Santa Ana. The inside walls were painted orange and blue and had framed photos of Guayaquil from the turn of the 20th century hanging on them.

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At bars in Guayaquil, or the ones I've been to at any rate, there's always waiter service; you don't go up to the bar yourself. The karaoke microphone was passed around from table to table, but none of our group had a go. They were all Latin American songs. I had an 'Alexander' cocktail, one of the most delicious cocktails I've ever had in my life - brandy, coffee liqueur, condensed milk and crushed ice, with a cocktail cherry.

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After that I had a White Russian, which was also nice but tasted slightly bland having come just after the incredibly tastebud-grabbing Alexander cocktail.

E had told me about a famous bohemian bar next door with a live band, so I was keen to go there next. E and I went while the others carried on up Cerro Santa Ana (to a bar where they were to meet up with W and a friend of his). However, when we tried to enter we were told we had to pay $5 entry fee, so since I only had about $8 on me and I wanted to save it for another drink or two, plus E didn't want to pay it either, we caught up with the others instead.

The bar we were in now was also very small, tiny in fact, and being further up the hill, had an amazing view of the city lights below. The others stuck to beers, but I fancied another cocktail. The only cocktails the guy had came from bottles of pre-mixed stuff, but I had a piña colada anyway. I swear there was no pineapple juice in it at all, and there was no ice. It was so thick and gloopy that I didn't actually like it very much. But the atmosphere and view made up for it!

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Some of us carried on to the top of the hill to see the views over the whole city at night, but the entrance to the plaza was gated off. The security guard behind it told us it gets locked at midnight. I took one or two photos anyway but couldn't get high enough to get views in every direction.

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We went home after this - I arrived back at 2.40 am, so had a nice lie-in this morning before catching a bus to Urdesa to take up D & A's invitation to swim in their pool. It was typically hot, at least 32-33 degrees, so it was wonderful to get in the water.

Posted by 3Traveller 04:14 Archived in Ecuador Tagged night cocktails ecuador guayaquil cerro_santa_ana las_peñas sushi_isao Comments (0)

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