Christmas at 0° Latitude and 68°F

This year´s holiday celebrations have taken me to Quito, Ecuador with Katty and her family. Although we have celebrated Christmas before outside of Chicago, this marks the first time I am away from my family. Thankfully, I feel like part of the family here in Quito! Their traditions are a bit different than that of our family. The big family dinner is late on Christmas eve and the presents are opened at or after midnight. This doesnt exactly jive with Papa Noel (Santa) coming down the chimney in the middle of the night, so the Niño Jesus (baby Jesus) is the one that brings the gifts. Though apparently this is starting to change as Papa Noel´s presence is greater every year. That being said, its quite bizzare to see Santa everywhere in his full red garb and hat when its almost 70 degrees out!! Its a bit hard for the Quiteños to understand why I miss the cold at Christmas time, but it has been an ever present factor in Christmas most of my life!! Thought when I left Chicago it was -16F without windchill! Can´t say I´m missing that too much. But from what I hear, it was 60 in Chicago yesterday! Maybe sending warm thoughts actually worked??

view from Casa Salgado on Christmas Eve

I´ve been going from one family function to another as Katty has a huge family here in Ecuador. Lunch and dinners with 20+ people seems to be the norm! Of course, I can´t get enough of it because it reminds me so much of my family in Spain. It has also been great to get to know everybody in her family that much better! Each of these mini reunions are filled with food, drinks, conversations and laughter, they are such a blast!! I´ll come back with tons of wonderful memory and a huge panza (gut)!! I can´t complain that Katty´s family has so many good cooks! Speaking of, I decided to bring a bit of our holiday traditions to Ecuador. I made the vegetable casserole that we always have this time of year along with some christmas cookies – both were a huge hit!! I´m not sure if they were more impressed with the food or the fact that a man cooked it! Getting the proper ingredients was a story in and of itself!

My first week (of three!) has been great thus far! With the New Year´s celebrations around the corner, as well as trips to Cuenca and the Amazon, I have much to look forward to! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!!