Today I learned the subtle difference of intonation: Dólar (dollar) vs. Dolor (pain). Instead of saying “it costs four dollars,” I said, “it costs four pains.” Oops!
I also tried a fried plantain, or "platano" in Spanish. A plantain is a type of non-sweet banana that is cooked before eating. The dessert was surprisingly good! It tasted like a cooked banana surrounded by fried dough.
I learned the word for paragliding today: Parapente. Paragliding is when you jump off of a cliff holding onto a giant kite that flies you around. It turns out there are a handful of parapente clubs around here, and we can try it once we’re used to the elevation. Sounds like a blast!
I had a meeting with Maria, our TIE coordinator, about the research project/placement for the second semester. We will be visiting areas for potential placement locations during the weekends of first semester. I was set on doing a research project in the Amazon with a community there, but Maria suggested thinking about a placement in the Andes since I want a full cultural immersion. In the Sierra region, traditional dress is the everyday. That would be a neat experience!
I can confirm that the sleepiness is from the elevation. Phew! It is a tiredness that does not fade, even after sleeping all night or taking naps. My body isn’t sore, but that’s how some of the others in the group feel, along with constant fatigue. It is so strange because I can do strenuous exercise at home, but here we take it easy and I am a deadbeat! Of course, it is not taking away the pleasure of being here.
After walking around for 45 minutes and enjoying the sights and sounds of the place, we split for lunch. I went to an Ecuadorian-Chinese-vegetarian restaurant, funnily enough, with Ally, Alysia, Rachel, and Annika. I’ll have to post photos of everyone in the next few days so you know who I’m talking about... For $3.25 we had a full lunch (almuerzo) with drinks and dessert! Also an important detail: American money is used in Ecuador. I'll have to google why...
(Read more by clicking to the right)
This is the view from my room! Last night we couldn’t see much, but the view was quite the surprise this morning. Muchas montagnas con pequenas casas de todas colores! Beautiful! It’s crazy how the city rolls up and down with the mountainous landscape.
Cotopaxi Volcano erupted for the first time two weeks ago since 1942, so that was nerve-racking for my parents. If you look in the distance in the center of the photo you can see the volcano far away on the left, since it is about 56 km/30 mi away from us. We saw it spewing some ash, but luckily for us the ash is being blown in the direction of the ocean.
We took a quick walk to eat breakfast and I tried grenadia for the first time. It is very similar to passionfruit. Strangest thing… an orange fruit with a tough outer shell you cut through to get to a weird inside filled with slimy pods with seeds in them. So much better than I expected! You know how cucumber seeds have a little pocket around them? Think that, but 3 or 4 times as thick, with a little seed that crunches like pumpkin seeds do. Surprisingly sweet, especially with the grey expectation. Mango-papaya-like sweetness in the shape of slippery pods with a crunch. Cool!
Maria, the Trent in Ecuador (TIE) coordinator, is so nice. Her English is very good. She has flat grey hair just past her shoulders and wears classy little square glasses.
Perhaps it was the 17 hours of traveling or the elevation that made us sleepy, but the group took it easy for the rest of the day. We went to a large supermarket to buy lunch/dinner. When at home, I often feel conflicted buying fruit from Chile, Mexico, or even California because that leaves an awful carbon footprint, not to mention the often low-paid laborers indirectly impacted by these purchases. Here, when I pick up an apple from Ecuador, I don’t feel that guilt. Plus, here you can literally buy bags of pure fruit pulp!
The 12 other girls and I talked for hours just laughing and telling stories. The sun went down at about 6, but we kept talking until 9 (even though it legitimately felt like midnight).
Great first full day in Ecuador!
I wanted to thank somebody on my flight for switching seats with me by giving him a little maple candy. I explained that the candy is made from dulce agua (sweet water) from certain arboles (trees) donde yo vivo (where I live), and the dulce agua (sweet water) is cocinó (is cooked) into jarabe (syrup) for pancakes. I explained the candy was solid pancake syrup. No idea if he understood...
Oh well! He seemed to like the candy anyway.
What I am hearing is pretty neat. In essence, Ecuadorians party hard. I have great view of the mountains from my room. From this side of the building, we're hearing a spanish dance club blasting some traditional ecuadorian tunes. (Think Mexican meets Italian meets workout zumba music.) I have a recording of it below in the video! You'll hear it better if you turn your volume all the way up. Very cool. I don't understand any of it... bahaha they speak so fast! It's a good thing I'm a heavy sleeper because it is decently loud. The "dorms" in the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar residence are comparable to rooms in a 4 star hotel. We're staying here for a week before meeting our host families on Friday. We each have our own little rooms and we're sharing common rooms with 2 other people. That includes 2 bathrooms, a living area, and a kitchen. Just a tad better than first year residence!
This really is a great group. It is neat to be with people with similar ideals as me. They know the deets on Donald Trump, love Wall Street, and want to be venture capitalists just like I do!
(Just to clarify, those are jokes.) In reality, the girls are very friendly and I'm very excited to get to know them!!
Flying in was super because even though it was night, we saw soaring mountains coming out of the city since there was a full moon. We flew by volcanoes! It would be sweet to fly during the day to see the landscape from the sky. Maybe I'll go paragliding with a go pro... When driving from the airport to the residence, we went on a bridge, looked down, and saw the bottom of a mountain crevice a few hundred feet down. Yikes!
I don't feel the elevation much, so that's a plus. At 2,850 meters, or 9,350 feet, it is the highest capital in the world. (In comparison, Colorado has a mean elevation of 6,800 feet). Tomorrow we're going to breakfast to meet the academic coordinator, and then we're going to the travel office with visa papers and all the billions of copies my mother printed for me (gracias madre!).
(Click to the right for more!)
Tomorrow, I am leaving for Ecuador for 8 months… Wow!
In a nutshell, I’ll be living with a host family in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, for one semester while studying international development at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. The second semester, I will be doing an independent research project, or placement, most likely in the Amazon. I’m super pumped since I’ve been reading National Geographic since I was seven! I’d love to study the impacts of Canadian mining companies on indigenous communities, even though my mom will have quite the anxiety when I am without phone service for two and a half months.
Important tidbit of information… I took my first Spanish class this past summer! Bahaha yikes. I’m very excited to live in the host families, but also nervous that I will not be able to communicate. I am probably most excited about weekend trips during the first semester to the Andes, to Andean communities, to the coastal region, to the rainforest, and to other cities. Muy Bueno! Many adventures to be had.
(Click to the right for more!)
HINT: Click "Previous" at the bottom of this page to read about and see photos of:
Top Reflection Posts: