The official currency of Ecuador is the US$ and the guide books tell you that it is hard to break a 20. We found this out when we were trying to buy bus tickets from the border town of Tulcan to Otavalo. Having an hour to kill Eliot, Thomas ( an Austrian that we shared a taxi from the border with) and I went to the closest restaurant. It was a chicken place and it must have been popular because they had a huge rotisserie that occupied an entire wall. As a general rule chicken roasters are a great resource fo hungy travelers.Roast chicken is a cheap, tasty and reliable source of protein and you always know what you are eating.
As we dug into our chicken I heard a squawk that sounded like a chicken. I thought, oh no one of the chickens escaped from the back and is running wild. I cannot look a chicken in the eye while holding a wing in my hand. I was partly right, I did hear a chicken squawk. However, it was not an escaped hen. It was a pet rooster, a fighting cock and its owner had brought it in with him while he was having lunch.
My north american self was thinking WTF- a rooster in a chicken restaurant! Who does that? Imagine if I walked into a steak house with a steer. I also could not help thinking what was going on in that cock’s mind? Did he know that a few meters from where he was calmly standing there was an entire wall of his cousins spinning around in oven getting golden brown? If he was thinking that, he did not show it, the rooster was very calm, much calmer than my mother’s dogs Darbie and Cody would be in a similar situation and certainty calmer than me. He was not even on a leash.
The cock’s owner finished his meal, casually picked up his cock and approached the till to pay. He held him tenderly and stroked him with the same hands that were previously holding a piece of roast chicken.
I asked if I could take a picture of the rooster and whether he was a fighter. The owner obliged obviously very proud of his rooster. I noted that all of the rooster’s mujeres (women) were roasting on the wall. The owner and the staff all thought that was funny. Or maybe they thought the hyperactive gringo with bad spanish was funny.
The owner looked like any teenager, headphones hoody and sneakers eating a chicken wing. Except that he had a fighting rooster at his feet.