Ecuadorian Mother becomes a Chef, Continues On Despite Great Adversity – A Story of Tenacity

Posted on November 6, 2015 • Filed under: Ecuador, Latin America Womens Issues

(Guayaquil Ecuador) Ecuadorian Mother becomes a Chef, Continues On Despite Great Adversity – A Story of Tenacity
This is a story of heartbreak and disasters. However, it is also a story of a woman despite overwhelming odds against her has continued towards her dreams when most people would have given up long ago.

I met Rosa when she was a little over ten years old. Always a smile, always high energy. She was a member of a large family and like so many other families in Ecuador, the father had left them to fend for themselves.

Despite having no father present, the mother continued to find ways to make money whether or not it was washing, ironing, or cooking to keep the roof on their shack over their head. And Rosa despite being young took on any job she could to help the family.

In the early 1990’s some of her family moved on to Spain borrowing the funds to help carve out a new life in Europe. Rosa stayed behind subsequently falling in love and having a family. However, she had no idea what was ahead for her.

I will not describe here some of the hardships she endured for her personal safety but, I will say, they have been substantial, that many would have given up on life.

Well, Rosa despite having had so much against her took matters into her own hands. She decided no matter what happened she was going to gain some skills so she could support herself and her children. Rosa attended a culinary school in Guayaquil, Ecuador and she graduated. She actually is certified as a chef. I was quite amazed at her culinary skills when several years ago she prepared meals for over 60 people at a party I gave in the neighborhood. And it was just not chicken and rice but several turkeys and trimmings. It was in fact so good, I would call it orgasmic.

She continued on through her struggles in life and pretty much had no idea what she was going to do. Her husband for the most part was out of the picture. And then she suffered a horrendous injury due to an automobile accident in which she nearly died and laid in a coma for weeks. She also suffered a head injury which left a large permanent scar to her forehead which was not repaired properly by surgeons.

Life continued on she had an idea. A dream of opening up a small hole in the wall where she could prepare meals and she could continue to support her family. She borrowed some money from her family in Spain and opened up a very charming little café to serve her cuisine. These little “holes in the walls” are often referred to as “huecos” or holes.

Well, on a return trip to Guayaquil, my wife, a very close friend of Rosa wanted me to go to lunch there. I was not all that thrilled and thought I had eaten at a lot of “almuerzos” for $2.50 in the past in Ecuador and was never thrilled with the establishments or the fare. I was in for a surprise. Tucked away in a lower income area of Guayaquil on a non descript block, a tiny “hueco” stands out like a grand morsel waiting to be devoured by a hungry patron. There it was, brightly colored with unique furnishings almost appearing as an artsy coffee shop that you might see in California. It was really put together nicely – not at all like the standard “huecos” in Ecuador with that cheap white plastic seating. I thought to myself, “what a great job she has done”. Now for the good part, as I so remembered her cooking years ago, it was even better. Everyday, for almuerzos, she has a set menu not written down of either beef or chicken with a soup and a completely exotic juice or lemonade. Again, I have to say it, the food was “orgasmic”. What a delight, what a reprise for working class Guayacos to go to a tranquil small island of simplicity and good taste to break the monotony of their work day and to nourish their bodies.

My friend Rosa without a doubt demonstrates the tenacity of many Ecuadorians to forge ahead, to forge a new life for themselves despite great adversity without the need for handouts. She has definitely earned any accolades she receives. And I might add that there are many days there is a line into this small place and days she runs out of food. I encourage any visitor or expat in Guayaquil to pay a visit to this small hole in the wall. You will not find it in “Trip Advisor” but, it is well worth the taxi ride (15-20 minutes from downtown) and for the $2.50 lunch. There is not a day that goes by since being back from Guayaquil that my wife and I don’t comment, “I wish I could go eat at Rosa’s “MI CALETA”. “Mi Caleta” is a slang phrase for “My House”. I can assure you that there are not many gringos in the neighborhood and if you show up, it will be because you read this. But if you like tell her “Nicholas” sent you. She will appreciate it and give you a big smile that continues despite all the obstacles she has faced in life but keeps striving for a better life against the odds.

Chef Rosita Hernández Franco
Graduada en la escuela de los chef y su toque criollo personalized
Address: Capitan Najera 201 y la 15ava
Guayaquil Ecuador
Cell phone: 0992199440

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