Tuesday, October 27, 2009

everyday life in quito

Here are a few random stories/experiences from the past couple weeks...

I take the bus to and from Cumbayá, which is where the university is located. It's usually about a 20-25 minute journey. One day after school, I saw the bus pulling away from the bus station and RAN to jump on it, because I was already late leaving and just wanted to get home. A few minutes later I realized that instead of taking the normal turn to go back uphill (up...mountain?) into Quito, we instead were heading downwards...I had gotten on a bus "al sur", which would've taken me all the way to the bus terminal called Quitumbe- an hour long bus ride to the very south ends of Quito. And I was freaking out a little, because it was starting to get dark, and I was by myself with my laptop in my backpack.

But then I noticed that there were two other guys that looked like international students as well, and they were looking pretty confused and frustrated, so I leaned forward, got their attention, and we realized our mistake. We ended up jumping off the bus in the middle of the road and waited a few minutes for the bus back to Cumbayá. I was real glad that I was able to stick with them- I didn't even have enough change to pay for all the different buses back home! They were nice enough to help me out with that. They were both seniors at Boston University, and one of them practiced Zen. I had a really long conversation with him and he told me all about what Zen is and why he converted from Catholicism. It was a very interesting conversation- I have met very few people who truly believe something like Zen (not just believe it to be different than everyone else). He was a very intelligent guy...I'm hoping we can hang out some more this semester.

This morning I was walking up the mountain to the bus station, still waking up because it was only 7:45 am and I hadn't had any coffee yet. This guy walked past me with two huge dogs on a leash. Except when I glanced a second time, it turned out they were goats, not dogs. Only in Quito.

My host family had some cousins (or some relatives) over for dinner one night last week. We always have really spectacular food when there's company, so I was all excited to try the soup in front of me. Turns out it was made with cows feet. It had cows feet in it. And I had to eat all of it. And smile.

I had my first REAL conversation with my host mom the other night- talking about something more important than every day conversation, that is. She asked me about John, and we talked for a long time about relationships and what is good and what is bad and what is important. It was a great conversation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

john's visit!

So, my AWESOME boyfriend came to visit me for a week, although it felt more like 2 days. The week FLEW by. I took him to Mindo for a couple days and we went ziplining, hiking, and exploring. We jumped off a cliff into a waterfall and it was terrifying! I almost didn't jump. But I did. We found this awesome local restaurant that was off the beaten path and paid less than $5 for both of our empanadas and drinks. It was some of the best food I've had since I've been here.

From Mindo, we made a pit stop back in Quito, then headed off to Baños, which is about 4 hours away from Quito. We rented an ATV for the day and drove out on la Ruta de Cascadas (Route of the Waterfalls). It was awesome- we saw several different waterfalls and it was absolutely beautiful to be driving through the mountains. No pictures or words can do it justice.

We also went puenting (puente means bridge in Spanish), which was almost like bungee jumping- we jumped from a bridge and instead of falling and then bouncing up and down, we swung from side to side. It was John's idea and I was terrified but I swore to myself I was gonna do it...and even so all the way up until I was getting my harness on I wasn't sure if I would do it. Then our guides starting talking about how I wasn't macho and wouldn't be brave enough to actually jump- right in front of my face! Hello, I speak Spanish...So that made my mind up, ha. It ended up being really fun! I'm definitely planning on going back to Baños before the semester is over. We ended up crossing the gorge and going to this place right beside the waterfall where you can catch your own trout and they cook it for you. Awesome. I can now say I have caught and eaten a fish in Ecuador. Word. Although it took me FOUR tries to actually catch one...John thought that was real funny.

I had an exam on Monday, so we went back in Quito and I got to show John around my campus a little bit in the pouring rain. He bought a large number of movies to take back to the states. Tuesday we went to a market and John got really good at bargaining with the vendors! After our date Tuesday night, he had to be at the airport at 4am, so we stayed up all night.

What a wonderful week that went by WAY too fast. Although I love being here, in Ecuador, this is one of the hardest parts- I'm so far away from my friends and my family and my boyfriend. It was a breath of fresh air to spend a week with someone I am so close to. I am looking forward to being home and not having any more countdowns to see you!

Here's some pictures from the week...John has all the best ones. He also has like a million pictures from the week, we probably stopped every 4 minutes so he could take pictures. But I mean, I'll be glad to have them later :)

Getting ready to go ziplining through the jungle!

John on the zipline!

Always taking pictures.

Best restaurant ever!

Baños- starting out on la Ruta de Cascadas.

SO beautiful.


Riding the tarabita (cable car) across the gorge to la Manto de la Novia.

The gorge.

My fish! Delicious.


Monday, October 5, 2009

to learn.

I've been here for six weeks now. Here are some things I have learned since I've been in Ecuador.

1. Pineapple juice is spectacular. But not all pineapple juices were created equal.
2. Internet access is a gift from God.
3. Always ask the taxi driver how much the ride will cost BEFORE you get in the cab. This will save you up to $4.
4. On that note, only take taxis that have a taxi light, an orange license plate, an orange numbered taxi sticker, and a company number in plain sight.
5. Definitely ask how expensive that beautiful necklace is- it's usually cheaper than you think.
6. There's this rule at WKU that if a teacher is more than 15 minutes late to class, students are free to leave. That rule doesn't exist in Ecuador. And the teachers are regularly more than 15 minutes late.
7. Traveling is amazing. And cheap. And most Ecuadorians have traveled all over the country, so anyone you ask can give you insider tips on where to go and what to do.
8. ALWAYS bring a jacket. The weather is temperamental. It goes from summer to winter and sunshine to rain in 30 minutes.
9. Wearing sunglasses does NOT help when trying to go incognito.
10. Crossing intersections on foot is like being playing that game Frogger. You better watch out.
11. Chucha=bad word. I learned that one the hard way.
12. You know how Friday the 12th is supposed to be an "unlucky" day? Well in Ecuador, the unlucky day is TUESDAY the 13th.
13. If you're a woman and you're white, learn how to tune out whistles, hisses, kissy noises, leers, and "Hola Mama!"'s.
14. The smaller the $$bill, the better. Break those $20's ASAP.
15. Canelazo is the best warm drink I've ever had. Water, sugar, naranjilla, and canela (liquor). Soooo good.
16. You can buy 3 movies for $5 here. It's awesome. I'm stocking up.
17. That forest fire on the side of the volcano is probably NOT lava, don't get your hopes up.
18. You can easily go to three different bars and one coffee shop on a downtown night.
19. Life is life, no matter where you are. Good and bad, up and down, busy and boring.
20. God is a BIG God.