This weekend was full of so much physical and mental exercise! It started on Friday night with our first of many dance classes. Our dance teacher just happened to be our history teacher, so we were a little shocked when we first walked into the room. Who knew history buffs knew how to dance so well?!
We spent an hour learning bachata which involves a lot of hip moving and leg muscles. I’m so glad we do all of our extracurricular activities within our group because already, we have become such a close-knit family. And they are all hilarious, so anything we do instantly becomes fun! After dance classes the whole group decided to go out for dinner together and we enjoyed some excellent Italian food. Since we were craving ice cream afterwords, we headed to Parque Calderón (the main square) for some delicious gelatto!
This past week was the festival of Corpus Christi which takes place in Parque Calderón and the celebrations involve streets lined with sweets and major fireworks displays every night, every hour, for 7 days. It was still going on when we walked past so we just had to stay and enjoy some of the local traditions! What a fun night!
We sure were feeling the soreness in our muscles from our dance class the next day when we went to Cajas National Park. When I picture hiking, I think of large, leaf-strewn trails through open forests but hiking in Cajas was anything (and everything) but! First of all, Cajas is at a very high altitude and is therefore very cold. (Although, nothing a good old Wisconsin girl couldn’t handle!) It was really the rain that did me in. It rained the entire 4 hours we were hiking through the mountains! Being wet in the cold is a much different story! It’s a good thing we were doing so much activity to keep us warm!
We walked on every surface imaginable: mud, rocks, plants, mud, rivers, but mostly mud. And boy is mud ever slippery! Most of the time the path was only wide enough for one foot in front of the other and we did everything from climbing perpendicular rock faces, crossing rivers, walking straight up and down sides of mountains, to swinging down trees to get through a forest. It was the most physically intense thing I think I’ve ever done! But the views were absolutely worth every unsure (and muddy) footstep!
We all agree that it was both a difficult and extremely rewarding experience. Not to mention the great friends we met along the way–
(We called him Fernando.)
All in all, we felt every muscle in our legs on our walk to school this morning! Ah, but you ask about the mental exercise that I mentioned earlier? Well that took place all day Sunday. A day of rest? I think not! A grand majority of Ecuadorians are Catholic, therefore, Sunday meant starting the day off at church. Not so unusual for me. The difficulty came in the language, as it did at lunch, and again at dinner.
Family is extremely important in Ecuador and my host family gets together with their entire family every Sunday. Not just Thanksgiving and Christmas like I’m used to. (Family, we should take a note from the Ecuadorians!!) So I spent the entire day surrounded by large numbers of chattering Spanish speakers. It was definitely a good practice in listening! And an exhausting one at that!
After all this, it is pretty unnecessary to mention (but I will anyway) that I slept like a baby last night and plan on utilizing my siesta time this afternoon! Also this afternoon we are starting our first of three ceramics classes! I’m so excited to try my hand at the potters wheel!
Again, thank you so much to all those who have left comments! They all mean so much to me and really get me through the morning rain!