In my carsick state, I wonder if El Mestizo might slip through my fingers yet again. Our driver careens around tight mountain curves paying no heed to the steep drops or to the weak stomachs of the foreigners in the back seat. Between deep breaths, I watch the road. I’ve been chasing a lunch at El Mestizo for weeks: First, the restaurant’s reopening date eluded me. Then, protester-led roadblocks confined me to my base in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador. And, a day ago, the heavens opened and deposited a rare and thick duvet of snow. By the time I am finally on my way, part of me thinks El Mestizo and I were never meant to meet.
But as the car almost blows past our destination, my friend shouts ¡Aquí! – we’re here. El Mestizo sits in the warm sunshine above the small town of Molleturo, a 75-minute drive from Cuenca. I scan its charcoal trim and stained-cocoa doorways before my eyes rest on the very thing that drew me here: a giant, two-storey boulder that broke off the mountain last February and smashed into the corner of the restaurant, blocking its front window.