Friday, September 18, 2009

another week!

Sorry it took me an entire week to update! I have been pretty busy- life is starting to pick up, my days are falling into a routine, and I have more to do with every day. I’ve actually had homework this week…it’s gonna take some time for that to sink in, ha. My classes are going well in general. I have two classes Monday through Thursday, and Fridays just have to go to campus for an hour or so to work on my jewelry for my jewelry making class. During my breaks, I usually end up finding a quiet spot with my laptop and a coffee to Skype with family/friends and catch up on my emails.

Last weekend was great- very relaxing and fun. I went to La Mariscal, which is the nightlife area of Quito, several times with some friends and had a good time walking around “gringo-land”, people watching, sharing stories, and speaking in English. I had to take a taxi home both nights, as it was pretty late, and the taxi drivers were very friendly and I ended up spending the 15-minute drive chatting with them. They both told me my Spanish was really good, although maybe they were just being nice.

This week has been full of long days…I had a test in my lit class, had to go to a museum for another class, and it’s been raining almost every day here. Still, every day is an adventure, including walking around a building 3 times before finding the right museum, sprinting through the monsoon to catch my bus, walking through Quicentro (a mall) and marveling at how expensive Payless Shoes is here (it’s like 3x as much!), and seeing a forest fire one night on the slopes of el Pichincha, the volcano I can see from my bedroom window. I totally thought it was lava, and that the volcano was erupting, but then my taxi driver informed me that it was just a fire, que triste.

Saturday evening, Mami and Papi and I went to Centro Historico and met up with the girls I have been spending most of my time with- Lauren, Josefin (who is from Norway and speaks like 5 languages!) and Amanda, who is a senior at Western this year. Centro Historico is the old part of Quito, with tiny little streets, big plazas, and colonial arquitecture. It was absolutely beautiful- it was too late to really go around taking pictures when we got there, so I’m definitely going back for shopping, good food, and a picture taking spree.

Mami showed us girls lots of awesome shops that we would never have found otherwise, and we all ended up spending money even though we swore we wouldn’t. I bought two pairs of earrings…surprise! We then followed Mami and Papi to Calle Ronda, which is a long street full of little bars, restaurants, and shops open late into the evening. We walked the length of the street, then stopped in a restaurant for a snack and hot drink. We all got hot chocolate, and apparently in Ecuador it’s a tradition to serve hot chocolate with a slice of fresh white cheese on the side (as Mami explained to me when I looked at my hot chocolate and cheese with a confused expression on my face). She also told me the following phrase, which has become my new favorite saying: “Chocolate sin queso es como un abrazo sin beso!”, which means “Chocolate without cheese is like a hug without a kiss!” I love it.

We also had an enormous empanada de viento, which was a flaky, sweet empanada served with some kind of sweet sauce, and canelazo, which is my new favorite drink. It’s got naranjilla (a type of fruit), water, sugar, and canela (a type of liquor) in it, and is served hot, and it is SPECTACULAR. You can get canelazo at just about any restaurant in Ecuador. The place we were at had live music, and a bunch of young adults eating there got up and danced for a while…it was awesome. Mami and Papi were such great tour guides the whole night- I officially have the best host parents ever…everyone keeps telling me so. Mami just takes everyone in and cares for them, and Papi is the perfect grandfather.

It was really cool to switch back and forth between two languages the whole night- I ended up doing it more than the other girls because I didn’t want to be rude and speak English in front of Mami and Papi when they can’t really understand it. My Spanish is getting better every day- my confidence in my ability to communicate is growing stronger, and although I know I still have LOTS to learn, I’m not falling into bed exhausted every night from focusing so hard on how to communicate. It’s beginning to feel natural to wake up and not speak any English until lunchtime when I’m eating with a friend.

That’s about all for now…here are some pictures from the night in Centro Historico and from around town. I am going to Mindo, which is a rainforest 2 hours away from Quito, this weekend with Amanda! I’m super excited! I mean…the rainforest! Woah!

Lauren, Josefin, Mami, me, and Amanda in Centro Historico.

I almost had a heart attack when i saw this.

This is a real person!

The empanada de viento.

View of Quito at night. Beautiful.

ElĂ­as, my host brother, and our crazy dog, Nacho.

Chilling on my bed.

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