A blog for my six months spent in Ecuador.
Peru Trip: Post No. 2 - Cusco
Before heading to Machu Picchu we made it to Cusco. Here we visited churches and other attractions of the city.
Heading to the Amazon in about 6 hours. I’ll get some sleep in before then. I’ll be spending the next 11 days in the Tiputini Bio Station in Yasuni. This is the part of the whole study-abroad-in-Ecuador that I’ve been waiting for. This is why I chose this country. For these opportunities. And it’s already here. Crazy…but so exciting!
I’ll make sure to upload all those Peru pics when I’m back in Quito. As well as some Amazon pics! For now though, ciao!
Peru Trip: Post No. 1 - Lima
Less than 48 hours ago, Phil and I got back from the last of our trip to Peru and Guayaquil. We started out the trip with seven of us in Lima, Peru. This city was a wonderful contrast to the sometimes overwhelming dirtiness and familiarity of Quito. Our two day stay in Lima consisted of a guided tour to the historical center of the city, wandering around to explore, and overall enjoying ourselves. Here’s some pics from the historical part of the city.
Awkward Photo Updates on my life
1. Look! I got my package! After almost two months of waiting my kind host parents went on a search for my package. I’m already wearing the NPR shirt. Also I look like a mess. A little bit of the sniffles and sitting in front of the computer all day equals this look. The scarf? Its cause its freezing in my house.
2. And I got a new piercing. This’ll probably be the last one mom and dad, so don’t worry, I’m not going too crazy down here. So far, so good with it.
3. I’ve started a scarf with the yarn I bought way back in Otavalo. This required a whole lot of patience rolling up yarn by hand. And I’ve made a mess with most of the rest of the yarn. But now I’m knitting again so when I’m stuck without the internet for a period of time, I have some more entertainment.
In other news, school’s basically over! I’ve got one paper left to edit up and then I’m free from USFQ. And vacations starting now. With me taking a shower and trying to get warm enough to convince myself to go to a Shwarma place with all ma friends and watch the football (soccer) game.
Classes are coming to an end soon (next week actually) and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to be done with a school system. Granted, the classes I’ve been taking (Human Ecology, Ecosystems and Biodiversity of Ecuador, Climate Change, Investigacion del Campo, Intermediate Spanish Grammar, and Phonetics) are much easier than any K classes I’ve taken. However, taking these classes in Spanish means that occasionally, I don’t know what the hell is going on (mostly in Human Ecology). And to add to that, all these classes (with the exception of the Campo one) are ending with some combination of papers, presentations, and maybe an exam. So, at the moment, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.
As far as the actual Universidad San Francisco de Quito goes, picture a bunch of rich kids in Ray Bans (though some kids are here on scholarship - those seem to be the only people that work hard) mixed in with a bunch of gringo international students, put the Ecuadorians in Abercrombie, with cigarettes in their mouths, walking really damn slowly taking up the whole path while texting on blackberries, and you have USFQ. I may be exaggerating a little bit here, but from the number of nose jobs I’ve seen, I feel like this school borders on ridiculous. Oh yea, and there was a Harry Potter day (instead of the traditional Nov. 1 holiday) and the train car the school brought in for the day is still sitting on the lawn. There’s some pretty tall grass growing under it at this point.
I shouldn’t be all harsh about this school though. Overall my professors are great. And I’ve valued their classes. So I’ll be somewhat sad when it’s time for classes to be over. But excited too. Because after this comes a trip to Peru (Machu Picchu on Christmas day), the Galapagos, and Tiputini in the rain forest. So, in my opinion, the best may be yet to come.
Viaje a la finca de flores
One of the weirdest events I’ve been to. Killing the bulls in front of the crowd was outlawed by the president here. So, now the process involves herding the bleeding and tired bull out of the stands where it is killed instantly away from the crowd. Even without the killing, the anticipation of the crowd of the matador sticking in the final knife decoration was high and this was probably a good cultural experience. None the less, it’s not something I’d like to see again.
Now, this is my third Thanksgiving away from home, but it is my first away from the United States. So, what this initially means is that Thursday morning I woke myself up not to help out cooking and whatnot, but to head to classes. Thursday afternoon as I walked to a friends house, I used up all of my saved saldo (phone credit) to call the states and talk to my family. The fifteen minutes of conversation was well worth the $10 I used up. That evening, some friends and myself ordered Dominos in order to celebrate the holiday together.
The big celebration was on Friday. We had all been eagerly anticipated this night as there would be a plethora of food, socializing, and probably wine. After classes Friday, I rushed to purchase supplies for cookies and some sort of cheesy potatoes. Then rushed to my host house in the hopes of baking both of these things. Turned out that all the numbers were missing from the oven dial, and I don’t know how to light a gas oven. So, mashed potatoes were made while Philip threw together his guacamole and made a mess of the kitchen. The cookies were forfeited for another time. We then rushed once again to get ready and make it to the party somewhat on time. Of course, like all Fridays there was traffic everywhere. Eventually we made it to the party at Sophie’s host house (think mansion, with a pool inside) to feast and celebrate our American holiday together.
I think we were all thankful for this break from Ecuadorian cuisine and also the outside Ecuadorian world. Most of us girls donned dresses (even without tights) that we otherwise would not feel comfortable wearing out in Ecuador (hey, I even get piropos when I’m dressed like a boy). There was (thankfully) no rice present at our celebration and the taste of cranberry sauce with turkey was enough to make anyone happy (myself especially). Sophie did a marvelous job at setting up her home for us and with enduring all the stress involved in helping to host almost 50 people. Everything was beautiful and the food…I only wish I had eaten more.
La Costa - Muisne, Ecuador
Now, when one thinks of the coast in a tropical region, she might picture lush trees and pristine beaches. In reality, at least in Muisne, the beach towns are relatively dusty or muddy looking. One thing that was a common theme throughout our trip to the coast last week was mud.
We stayed at a Biological station, which we think was really meant for volunteers, not a bunch of K kids trying to have a nice coastal trip. Really, our Ecology group had a better time of it than the Liberal Arts group, but still, finding that the cockroach in your shower is still alive when you’re showering is not a whole lot of fun.
This trip involved some interesting ecology though. We visited and trudged through the muddy mangroves (manglares en espanol), we took an hour long motor boat ride in the pouring rain (I got wet but my backpack didn’t) in order to see a couple howler monkeys way up in a tree (they were quietly digesting their breakfasts unfortunately), we mukked our way through a muddy ex-cameronera (big shrimp pool) to try to look for clams (I don’t think any of us K kids found any), we learned about and tasted the cocoa fruit (that orange thing up above), we ate some fish, we got some food poisoning (I think mine was from rice and chicken), we had some quiet nights playing cards and talking (there wasn’t a whole lot to do at the bio station), saw some leaf cutter ants, tried some conch ceviche (like clams in cold limey water), and all in all, stayed in a good mood.
All I know is that the meat didn’t taste like meat, but a salty…piece of jerky. And I’m pretty sure I saw two teaspoons of salt go into that soup.
Overall though, today was a good food day. Breakfast was yogurt and corn flakes (a nice break from the usual bread, jam, butter, and cheese sandwich), lunch was a corn, potato, cheese soup followed by fried green beans, beet salad, and carne. Dinner was bread with cheese and jam, and some tea, but later tonight my host sister had made crepes. These were actually thick like American pancakes, and we ate our piece with the maple syrup I had brought from home. So a little taste of America to end the day.
Posts about our last coast trip and this weekend to come!