Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Medio del Semestre

So I’m halfway through my time here…so weird. But considering how much has happened the past three weeks, I’m sure plenty more will happen. For example, the chiva (party bus) we’re probably renting out for the three June birthdays in our group (and just for the sake of partying it up after classes are over).

Speaking of birthdays, during the week of mine instead of dying in the Amazon with the rest of my group I’m returning to Otavalo (where I was this Saturday and Sunday) to observe/possibly participate in Inti Raymi, an indigenous festival that celebrates the sun. And next weekend we go to Papayacta which has hot springs and fun stuff of that sort. 

Let’s see…where did I leave off? Well, my Freecell addiction is well under way. Like seriously, in the past 3 hours I’ve played over 15 games of it. This is why I shouldn’t get good at things; then I get compulsive about them.

In more exciting news, the weekend before this one we went to Casa Blanca, this gorgeous resort area in the province of Esmeraldas (The city of Esmeraldas itself is…not the safest of places…from what I hear. And it’s close enough to the Colombian border that we can’t go anyway unless we want to be kidnapped and forced into drug muling. But Casa Blanca’s gated off and guarded from FARC and all that)

So we got there on Thursday night, after a trip to a few museums displaying the work of Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guyasamin. All of it was really awesome. Here are some examples:

 This one is the dome on the ceiling and depicts impoverished Potosi miners trying to make it to the light.

From there we stopped back on campus for lunch before taking off for the beach. Maybe a six hour drive through towns and cowlands that gave off various smells and brought various biting insects into our bus and my iPod decided to be fickle, so I turned to a crossword book and a subpar yard sale paperback…about a woman who writes crosswords. Great fun. But anyways, we got there and the first night there we stuck our feet in the water before going back to our apartment to watch a movie. First time touching the Pacific, and I approve greatly. In the day the waves got pretty strong, but the water was always warm (whereas in Jersey it’s maybe warm midday in September, when nobody’s going to the beach anymore).

What else…oh, by our first full day there I had achieved my first severe sunburn, with peeling and everything. I knew the sun was strong on the equator, but still. Thanks to the type of anti-malaria medicine some people are taking, they were unusually sensitive to the sun. Not good at all, but a good indicator of a day well spent swimming and sunbathing. There were a few restaurants in the resort, right on the beach, so we didn’t have to venture into sketch territory. They served lots of apparently delicious seafood that I didn’t eat. Instead I got lots of noodles with weird tasting cheese that didn’t melt nicely. Om a nom. At night everything closed down save one bar full of Gringas and the unskilled bartenders that wanted to dance with them (the weekend before is a holiday in Ecuador, commemorating the Battle of Pichincha, so that’s when most Ecuadorians would have traveled). All in all, an awesome weekend.

Let’s see…this past week…I went off campus to eat with a friend a few times, so subpar caprese sandwiches were completely avoided. Had midterms of sorts, which consisted of turning in my reading/observation journal for Andean culture and writing a paper/giving a presentation on the Awá tribe of Esmeraldas for Conversational Spanish. Discovered that there’s a bar called Strawberry Fields that plays classic rock and is decorated with Beatles memorabilia and where all the drinks are named after Beatles songs and thought I died and went to heaven. A few of us got lost and ended up in a crazy bus terminal in La Marin, which we quickly learned isn’t an ideal place for anyone to get stranded. A few days later the same group of people got stranded in the Centro Historico when we couldn’t find a cab. A nice cop came and stood with us since it was getting dark, but it even took him like an hour to hail us a cab. One day we explored Guapálo, which is a really pretty part of the city built around this one crazy-windy road. There’s a pretty church and lots of cool graffiti and we discovered a restaurant overlooking the city and sat there for a bit. Another day we took a cable car up Pichincha and on the top had a gorgeous view of the city.
I do believe I’ll save the details of this past weekend for the next entry, as I’m sleepy after trying to climb the world’s second biggest active volcano in nutso winds (and both falling and failing) today. If that’s not enough to get you to keep following my blog I don’t know what is. Now comment or I’ll climb I again and try to get to the snowy peak of Cotopaxi this time.


  1. <3 the art. Sounds like such an amazing trip, you all must be so busy. Remember -- pictures when you get back!

  2. Please stop getting lost; you're scaring me. Sounds like you are having a blast otherwise.

  3. sounds like you are having QUITE the adventure!