Call of the Kiosks
By Brittany Lenhart
Portland, OR, United States
What is a kiosk, exactly?
My best, most enlightening kiosk moment happened one evening when the sun went down in the Galápagos Islands. It was there, in Puerto Ayora, the most populous town on Santa Cruz Island, that a row of low-key, nondescript, humble storefronts became a bustling, street-food smorgasbord.
A Street Transforms
No kidding! This road, known locally as Calle de los Kioscos (Kiosk Street), is populated during daytime by vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians. At dusk it becomes seating for approximately fifteen restaurants. Wafting over the tables from the kitchens and grills lining the street is a mouth-watering smell.
The local chefs prepare fresh fish, chicken, octopus, shrimp, and vegetables to accompany the traditional food of the islands — rice, beans, and plantains. The more adventurous eaters in our group ordered the fried octopus, but I went for the pollo encocado, chicken with a rich coconut sauce, that is a classic of the Ecuadorian coast.
The cost of our meals on the street was between US$10 and US$15, quite reasonable for tourists given the amount and freshness of the ingredients. Our group, composed mostly of visitors from the US, enjoyed beers, sodas, and sweet fruit juices with our dinners. We felt lucky to have found delicious food with a pleasing, laid-back atmosphere.
Santa Cruz Island
Take all of this in with the context of the island. Santa Cruz is 381 square miles, with over 90 percent of the land reserved as a national park. It hosts the largest population in the archipelago with approximately 12,000 inhabitants, most of whom live in Puerto Ayora.
The tourism industry is thriving in Puerto Ayora, and one of the highest sought-after jobs is as a tour provider or naturalist tour guide. For me, any job would be fine as long as I can eat once in a while at Kiosk Street!
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Learning Activity for Middle School: Sampling
- In small groups, create a menu that you might find at one of these kiosks. Determine how much it might cost for eight people to eat dinner there.
- If the average income for a resident of the Galápagos is US$1000 per month, decide if it’s financially feasible for her to eat at the kiosks regularly.
- If 500 people visit this street each night for dinner, what percentage of the total town population is that?
- With numbers that you make up, graph the number of people who eat at Kiosk Street each night of the week.
Social Justice Questions
- The Galápagos Islands are part of Ecuador. For conservation reasons, the Ecuadorian government tightly restricts who can live there. For example, unless you married a Galapagueño, you couldn’t buy a home and move to the islands. Do you think these restrictions are fair? Why or why not?
- The cost of a meal at Kiosk Street is too expensive for most locals. What do you think of an entire city street being closed off every day for tourists?
- Some people say Hawaii is what the Galápagos would be if business and real estate development proceeded unchecked. Do some research into this comparison and decide if you agree.
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