The land of no instant pudding
Thursday, March 31, 2011
...and I’ll continue to be whoever I am, in whatever country I live in.
Case in point:
Yesterday I tried to bring a little bit of home to Ecuador - “dirt” and "sand" for dessert. Dirt being that precariously-combined Oreo and pudding concoction that never quite tastes as good as it did when you were six and someone's mom made it at their birthday party. Sand being its counterpart comprised of vanilla pudding, bananas, and graham crackers. Apparently, Ecuadorians aren't as wild about getting in touch with the tierra, as I couldn't find any pudding at the grocery store – instant or otherwise. In my infinite wisdom, and being dead set on providing my pals with said dirt and sand – I decided to make pudding from scratch.
Disastre. Disaster. Hot mess. Big mistake. Whatever you call it, it didn't go well. The vanilla pudding didn't set at all, and Chelsey compared it to baby food all afternoon. On the other hand, the chocolate pudding was pretty good and I referred to myself as a pioneer woman because of my pudding skills. I'm not sure that pudding was a prime chow choice for pioneer dwellers, but we'll call it poetic license.
All that being said, both pudding projects were redeemed by the liberal usage of Ecua gummies on top. Usually, this dirt business is accompanied by gummy worms. Here, they have gummy osos. It is what it is. We fashioned a beach scene on top of the sand, complete with banana surf boards and gummy beach balls.
Today, skipped class, tried to register for classes. Had an amazing Ecua- afternoon. A new friend from Juan Valdez (Latin America's answer to Starbucks) asked me to help him practice his English this afternoon. Claro que si. We talked a lot about culture, language, and how my accent makes him laugh. Also, he told me he can't tell the difference between British English speakers and North American English speakers. Interesting, no? Tonight, there’s been a fair amount of procrastinating and listening to all the great play lists I find on 8tracks.com.
Some things don't change: I love desserts, and I hate homework.
Other news, I went out to CoffeeTree with Alyse and Caleb on Tuesday night. We had a great time catching up, enjoying totally Ecua (read “Nonexistent and totally foreign here”) customer service and getting really decent taxis, both to and fro. On the way, the guy wanted almost double the usual price, which we skillfully argued down. Life is exceedingly wonderful here in Quito and thinking about leaving makes me beyond sad.
Some old stuff and the mountain that severely bruised my ego.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
The last week has gone by really quickly. We had a week of intensive Worldview course that kept us pretty busy and gave us tons and tons of homework. I've been busy – busy! Yesterday our Culture class headed to the Centro Historico to check out the president’s house and a few churches. Awesome. The churches are so beautiful and there are so many close together. The president's house or Palacio de Carondelet was lack luster – the "tour" was a shuffle through three rooms used for meetings and public appearances. Highlight of the Palacio was the guard’s outside – excellent get ups and stoic expressions. Obvious tom foolery ensued.
After Palacio de Carondelet we visited a church built by the Augustinians that I can't remember the name of, and the Compania de Jesus church, as well. Lots of pan de oro and old stuff. Breathtaking, but I didn't take any pictures inside. Respect and all, you know. This is a view of the Augustinian church, walking up to the church from the street – dead on, it's just beautiful.
As if all that sightseeing wasn't enough, we had dinner as a class up on the rooftop of a restaurant a few blocks from Compania de Jesus. The views were spectacular and the cafe con leche and empanadas de morocho eran muy rico! Basically, I love being surrounded by mountains, chowing down on Ecua delights with some of the best company Quito has to offer (that's you, semester abroad!).
Sharon and I had been invited out to La Ronda with some friends for dancing and silliness. Well, a huge group of us went – Ecuadorians and Americans – and had a great night. We started out at La Ronda with more empanadas and some mora canelazo, and then we all went to la mariscal. After our 10-minute taxi from La Ronda, we met back up and found a small, dark salsa/regaeton club. The place was packed like the trolle. It was a half-gringo crowd and I’m pretty sure I couldn't have looked any more foolish – but I had a ton of fun. Mika, an Ecua friend, showed us some of her moves and laughed with us when we started to look like idiots. We danced and then headed home, calling it an early night because this morning we climbed PINCHINCHA, the mountain that borders the city to the west.
I should clarify. "We climbed" is misleading. I made it all of 30 minutes at 14,000 ft. before I realized my little piernas and pulmones would not make it another 5,000 feet up. Let me back track. We all took the Teleferico a little more than half-way up the mountain (basically, a ski lift that gives you some spectacular views of the entire city as you go up the mountain). From the end of the Teleferico, it’s about a 4-hour hike to get to the top – I'm not sure why, but apparently people enjoy that type of thing...
Not to worry, though. As an act of solidarity, I did go for a run after I ate lunch. Fifteen minutes at 10,000 feet, I'm feeling the burn.
A lot of things to look at, chronicling the past two weeks.
Monday, March 14, 2011
On Saturday, we said “chao, chao” to our host families with a big barbecue in Tombillo. One of the host families owns a hacienda (farm) there, about an hour south of the city. It’s been in their family for over 100 years and has a beautiful farm house on the property. I acted very much like my mother in the dollar aisle at Target – I stopped to look at everything I could in the house. It's a great, big house filled with so much old stuff it was almost more than I could bear...
We milked cows with our bare hands right into a glass--which we promptly drank. We were at a farm after all.
Some of my pals rode horses around the property, while others of us visited the baby cows and cuy (guinea pigs). We moved from farm adventure to farm food – pinchos (Ecua shish kabobs) and salads provided by each family.
Sorpresa, sorpresa, I shed a tear while saying goodbye to my host family. There were overly-attached hugs exchanged. I am excited to live with each of the other girls again, but I will miss my Ecua family and our daily cultural adventuras. I may or may not have purchased some queso fresco and pancitos at the grocery store yesterday in an attempt to recreate my desayunos with Lil and Ive.
I think I’m leaving little pieces of my heart here in Ecuador, the people, the language, the landscape – it’s all so amazing. I can't believe we're half-way done. (Now, I know what you're thinking, "Liz, we heard this before when you lived in Oklahoma City... don't even say you want to move there.") This is different, while I love it here, I probably won't live here forever. That makes me savor each experience that much more.
And now, here we are in all our glory...