Mid-South Food Truck Festival

Named 2016 Food Truck Festival Queen.

Named 2016 Food Truck Festival Queen.

So True.

So True.

Twisted Sandwich ... ummmmm...

Twisted Sandwich … ummmmm…

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Fish out of a food truck. Not really my thing.

Fish out of a food truck. Not really my thing, but I’m sure it’s Heavenly.

Grammar Nazis need not attend the Food Truck Festival.

Grammar Nazis need not attend the Food Truck Festival.

Food truck salad.

Food truck salad.

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Representing Little Rock.

Representing Little Rock.

Nice guy. I was going to take a photo out front, but he insisted I come back where the action was happening.

Nice guy. I was going to take a photo out front, but he insisted I come back where the action was happening.

These ladies from Joy Ride Latin eats serve up an award-winning Cubano. The cheese was perfectly melted.

These ladies from Joy Ride Latin Eats serve up an award-winning Cubano. The cheese was perfectly melted.

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I regret not trying the grilled mac and cheese sandwich. I really do.

I regret not trying the grilled mac and cheese sandwich. I really do.

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Also risky business.

Again – we’re talking risky business. Credit for not putting an apostrophe on necks.

One of the classiest of the bunch.

One of the classiest of the bunch. Bon appetit.

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Day Trip to Manta, Ecuador

life n puerto cayo ecuador

My friend, Maria Blount of Puerto Cayo began our day with a wonderful breakfast: eggs with tomatoes, fresh fish, sweet bananas and fresh-squeezed papaya juice.

Mom and Aunt Neala near the beach in Las Pinas.

Mom and Aunt Neala near the beach in Las Pinas.

Fishing boats just in from sea in Las Pinas, where we stopped and bought some of the fresh catch pictured below.

Fishing boats just in from sea in Las Pinas, where we stopped and bought some of the fresh catch pictured below.

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Crab legs for dinner, and cheap!

Crab legs for dinner, and cheap!

I understand life in Ecuador so much better because of this precious lady, Maria.

I understand life in Ecuador so much better because of this precious lady, Maria.

A papaya farm near our home in Puerto Cayo that I didn't know about until today. Bought two bushels for $5.

A papaya farm near our home in Puerto Cayo that I didn’t know about until today. Bought two bushels for $5.

This home was recently constructed on the beach in Puerto Cayo by our Ethiopian friend, Mesfin Haile. It's spectacular.

This home was recently constructed on the beach in Puerto Cayo by our Ethiopian friend, Mesfin Haile. It’s spectacular.

This is Mesfin's bodega, or storage building. Not too shabby!

This is Mesfin’s bodega, or storage building. Not too shabby!

Saturday in Jipijapa

rainy season in ecuador

"The more a man reads, the more he realizes how much he doesn't know."

“The more a man reads, the more he realizes how much he doesn’t know.”

Dana Watkins in Ecuador

A small roadside waterfall.

A small roadside waterfall.

As I was climbing to the top of a hill for a shot of the jungle, these guys gave me a shout-out.

As I was climbing to the top of a hill for a shot of the jungle, these guys gave me a shout-out.

The strawberries here are delicious.

The strawberries here are delicious.

living in ecuador

Juan xxxiii movement

When a gringo walks down the street with a Nikon around his neck, everybody wants their photo taken. I obliged this local banana and plantain entrepreneur.

When a gringo walks down the street with a Nikon around his neck, everybody wants their photo taken. I obliged this local banana and plantain entrepreneur.

Otavalo – South America’s Most Famous Market

A 30-minute flight from Manta to Quito, then a 90-minute drive north to Otavalo. Sounds easy enough. Not necessarily.

A 30-minute flight from Manta to Quito, then a 90-minute drive north to Otavalo. Sounds easy enough. Not necessarily.

Some of the world's finest artisans live in this remote town.

Some of the world’s finest artisans live in this remote town. Dana bought these two pieces.

Spices.

Spices.

We purchased the hand-woven rug on the right as a wall hanging in Casa Azul.

We purchased the hand-woven rug on the right as a wall hanging in Casa Azul.

Yarn.

Yarn.

From the market in town, we traveled to this spectacular property owned by a friend. It's the rim of a volcano- Mt. Imbabura where I set a new personal best for elevation above sea level at 15,190 feet. The water in the crater lake is so acidic that it will not sustain life.

From the market in town, we traveled to this spectacular property owned by a friend. It’s the rim of a volcano- Mt. Imbabura where I set a new personal best for elevation above sea level at 15,190 feet. The water in the crater lake is so acidic that it will not sustain life.

Otavalo Market

Two old friends stop for conversation.

Two old friends stop for conversation.

The bold colors of Latin America are among my favorite things.

The bold colors of Latin America are among my favorite things.

Many of the indigenous people carry coin cups and will ask you for change on the street. It's hard not to give them money.

Many of the indigenous people carry coin cups and will ask you for change on the street. It’s hard not to give them money.

Otavalo Market

The art of embroidery is at its finest here.

The art of embroidery is at its finest here.

These coca "products" are  for sale everywhere, and are said to cure just about anything that ails ya. I'm sure that's true ,but I passed on the opportunity.

These coca “products” are for sale everywhere, and are said to cure just about anything that ails ya. I’m sure that’s true ,but I passed on the opportunity.

Catching up on her reading.

Catching up on her reading.

Otavalo Market

Otavalo Market

Mud Baths at Agua Blanca

Agua Blanca in Ecuador

Today, we visited Agua Blanca, a spring in the Machalilla National Park near Puerto Lopez.

Agua Blanca is a beautiful forest, wild animals everywhere and a type of sulfuric spring where people go to bath and cover themselves in mud that is believed to have some kind of anti-aging quality.

I already feel 25 again!

Agua Blanca in Ecuador

It's about a three kilometer hike through the forest to the spring ... and it's been very rainy this week and we have lots of mud.

It’s about a three-kilometer hike through the forest to the spring … and it’s been very rainy this week and we have lots of mud.

Everybody loves the mud.

Everybody loves the mud.

Especially the kiddos.

Especially the kiddos.

The swimming spring at Agua Blanca. It's sulfuric qualities are said to reinvigorate a youthful feel.

The swimming spring at Agua Blanca. It’s sulfuric qualities are said to reinvigorate a youthful feel.

Agua Blanca in Ecuador

Agua Blanca in Ecuador

Miss Ecuador 2013. Not really, but we played it up!

Miss Ecuador 2013. Not really, but we played it up!

Mother-in-law's tongue. It's everywhere.

Mother-in-law’s tongue. It’s everywhere.

Termite nest near the spring.

Termite nest near the spring.

View from the park's highest elevation on a misty day.

View from the park’s highest elevation on a misty day.

My New Hair Fashionista: Antonio Delgado

The finished product. Hombre es muy guapo!!!

The finished product. Hombre es muy guapo!!!

It’s been 45 days since my last haircut in the U.S. For me, that’s a long time.

Today, 6,000 miles from home, I found a new hair cut guy. He works from a bamboo shack, and his name is Antonio Delgado from Puerto Lopez, Ecuador.

All that style for only $5!

And I must say now, I’m too sexy for my hair!

How to be the Most Popular Guy at Nawi Fest

Dana fits in just about anywhere, even her first Nawi Fest.

Dana fits in just about anywhere, even her first Nawi Fest.

How does a fair-skinned, blue-eyed gringo at his first Nawi Fest become the most popular guy on the Malecon?

Mostly, he just acts himself, and walks the streets full of several thousand partying Ecuadorians, carrying a high-powered Nikon camera. The rest takes care of itself.

Nawi Fest comes to Pto. Cayo, Ecuador once a year. What is Nawi Fest? Well, it’s the opening of a bar – and not a particularly extraordinary bar. It’s bamboo construction just like all the others on the beach, but for some reason when Nawi Bar opens each January, time stands still in Ecuador.

Nawi Bar opens around the third weekend of January each year, and remains open for six weeks, not necessarily every day, or even Monday through Friday, but it’s open sometimes, all the time, during that six weeks, and yes, it’s a big deal.

More precisely, this is what Nawi Bar is:

Beer, sun, beer, food, beer, dancing, beer, hard liquor, beer and more beer.

In my 47 years I’ve been to a Jimmy Buffet concert on the beach, Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium. I’ve even toured a Coors distillery in Denver and Anheiser-Busch in St. Louis, and I’ve never seen the quantity of beer that Nawi brings to Pto. Cayo on opening day.

A few photos from our first Nawi Fest…

This is about 1/100th of the total number of cops in Puerto Cayo on Saturday. When you see this happening eight hours before things ever get rolling, you know you're in for quite a party.

This is about 1/100th of the total number of cops in Puerto Cayo on Saturday. When you see this happening eight hours before things ever get rolling, you know you’re in for quite a party.

I thought it was necessary to contribute to the local economy by having at least one cold Pilsener.

I thought it was necessary to contribute to the local economy by having at least one cold Pilsener.

Nawi Fest in Ecuador

When there is so much beer on hand, you might as well go ahead and construct your tienda from beer. A house of beer, if you will.

When there is so much beer on hand, you might as well go ahead and construct your tienda from beer. A house of beer, if you will.

Did I mention there was beer on hand?

Did I mention there was beer on hand?

Nawi Fest in Ecuador

Ten minutes after we arrived, this young scholar offered me a joint. His special blend, I presume. I respectfully declined, but to commemorate the moment, we posed for this impromptu Polaroid.

Ten minutes after we arrived, this young scholar offered me a joint. His special blend, I presume. I respectfully declined, but to commemorate the moment, we posed for this impromptu Polaroid.

What's in the bag, God only knows.

What’s in the bag, God only knows.

Entry to the beach dance.

Entry to the beach dance.

The Red Cross was on hand, in case things got rowdy, and a natural disaster ensued.

The Red Cross was on hand, in case things got rowdy, and a natural disaster ensued.

My take on the cops. Most of them were there to pick up chicks. Actually, they did a great job of keeping things manageable.

My take on the cops. Most of them were there to pick up chicks. Actually, they did a great job of keeping things manageable.

The shirt says it all.

The shirt says it all.

Mr. Bean is pretty big in Ecuador.

Mr. Bean is pretty big in Ecuador.

No power for your street-side tienda? No problemo! Just run a few copper wires up to the city lines, and "borrow" some juice, and your in business. Perfecto!!!

No power for your street-side tienda? No problemo! Just run a few copper wires up to the city lines, and “borrow” some juice, and you’re in business. Perfecto!!!

These molecules of toilet paper cost Dana 30 cents. She didn't have a square to spare.

These molecules of toilet paper cost Dana 30 cents. She didn’t have a square to spare.

nawi fest in ecuador

I'm pretty sure I got gringo-taxed on this ear of corn.

I’m pretty sure I got gringo-taxed on this ear of corn.

You don't even want to know.

You don’t even want to know.

A hammock rental for $1 around 7 p.m. was a great investment, and the views weren't bad either.

A hammock rental for $1 around 7 p.m. was a great investment, and the views weren’t bad either.

Nawi Fest inEcuador

Our last photo of the night, Dana snapped this photo when she saw these guys pouring cologne all over their bodies. The gentleman on the left offered to pull down his pantalones for the photo, but Dana told him it would not be necessary.

Our last photo of the night, Dana snapped this photo when she saw these guys pouring cologne all over their bodies. The gentleman on the left offered to pull down his pantalones for the photo, but Dana told him it would not be necessary.