February 23, 2010

Y en ESPANOL! Flamingo: The bestest ice cream shop in Manta

There's a holy grail of Manta, Ecuador. Yes, there's only one.

It's Flamingo, the heladeria (ice cream shop) two blocks behind Mi Comisariato, which is across from SuperMaxi on south Flavio Reyes.

On my very first night in Manta, December 2008, my CS host Linda picked me up from the airport. It was hot outside. She drove me straight to the ice cream shop and bought me a cone.  Since, I've shared my joy with many of my best friends from Manta.  It was the beginning of a love affair.

Maxi, the owner's son, and his teammates were always there and always serving excellent homemade ice cream. My favorites were menta granizada y chocolate amargo (mint chocolate chip and dark chocolate) The cones cost about $2, and $2.50 to be chocolate dipped, but they were well worth it.
NOTE:  Naranjilla and Cafe were also my faves.

The have one signature:  a 10" ice cream cone.  The thick ice cream is shaped and then coated in a hard shell of chocolate.  YUM!

I made this my mecca; when it was time to celebrate, Flamingo. When I was depressed, Flamingo. When I had no money, I chose a $0.25 coconut ice cream cone from the street vendor Ysidro (another story in itself!), made from contaminated tap water and yummy fresh coconut.


To be honest, I lived on a zero budget when I was in Ecuador.  I wish I would have spent an extra $200 during the 10 months I traveled - I literally would have moved from eating the very cheapest food to some of the best (in the every day diners.)
I vividly recall talking to my friend Pete.  I was frustrated with my financial situation, tired, and discouraged.  And so he sent me money via Paypal for two liters of ice cream!  WOW!  I absolutely loved my ice cream, and was so thankful for it.   And guess what?  I even shared.

Sharing was a lesson I learned in Ecuador.  I've always shared what I have; I've simply not been ridiculously generous.  My motto in Ecuador:  Don't be stingy.  It makes for a wonderful lifestyle!

Maria Teresa is a street beggar. She starts at about noon, and continues until 1 or 2 am. She sells something equivalent of Starbursts, but I never liked them.  The banana flavor was the worst.  I would give her $0.25, received my candies, and gave the candies away.

We met because... I decided to meet her. Every day she circled the beach boardwalk, the clubs and bars, the burger joints, and the ice cream shop. Often times she came with a 10 year old girl, who would also work late into the night.  I would buy them dinner, and once even ice cream.

I saw Maria again and again on the beach boardwalk, and I finally decided I simply must know her name.  Months later, we tearfully hugged as I said goodbye.  She is a sweet, humble memory.

My last night in Manta was spent with close friends at Flamingo.  Mayra, my roommate, her boyfriend Juan Carlos, my elderly neighbor Rose (who tended roses), Sabrina, Alicia, David and his girlfriend, Cesar!, My English students Tony and JoseLu, my Ecuadorian family Raul, Marianela, Raul Jr, and unfortunately missing Andrea, and...

I felt very loved.  It was a tearful, yummy evening.  Here's to ice cream, friends, and Manta memories!

More photos can be found HERE in the English version


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