On friday i had my first dance class, and we learned some steps to the bachate! this dance really focuses on hip and arm movements. it was a lot of fun to learn, and i got to practice my moves later that night at a birthday party my older brother took me to.
on saturday our whole group went to cajas national park which was absolutely beautiful, but also very cold! cajas means cold in kichwa, and the indigenous people who named this park were definitely right in giving it this name. we all looked ridiculous wearing a ton of warm clothes, but it was so much fun. thank goodness for the rubber boots the travel agency gave us because up in the mountains there was a cool mist the whole time we were hiking and the trail was super muddy. Before our hike we went in this little museum and learned about the 6 communities that live on the outskirts of the park. their downtown consists of a soccer field, church, and school where there is 1 teacher for all ages! we also learned that there are over 232 lakes in this park! we then began our 4 hour hike on the camino de garcia moreno who was the first president of ecuador. it was really chilly at first, but absolutely beautiful. we didn´t see any other people the whole time we were hiking, and it was so wonderful to be in such a tranquil and relaxing place away from all the traffic that i listen to every day living on calle larga. it would rain on and off, and it was only sunny for 5 minutes, but despite not being sunny the view of the beautiful lakes, dense green vegetation, and rolling mountains was still amazing. the trail was crazy, and it was super slippery and muddy. some parts were also really steep and it was quite the adventure climbing up and down these slippery slopes. at one point we entered this forest with dark orangish brown branches that were called arboles de papel (paper trees) because when the bark fell off it looked like strips of paper. we had to hold onto these branches to keep from falling. along the hike our guide pointed out different flowers that are used for curing the flu or used to make tea to cure different kinds of sicknesses. after about 2 hours of hiking we stopped for lunch on a rock near a river. It was so interesting to find out that part of the river in cajas is the beginning of the tomebamba river that flows behind my house in cuenca. the water in cajas is really pure and is the source of water that goes to cuenca which gives cuenca the cleanest water in all of ecuador. At lunch Sam had the greatest idea to make pb and j sandwiches which were absolutely delicious. oh how i miss my favorite sandwich from the states! We then continued hiking for 2 more hours and saw some sweet waterfalls and rapidly flowing rivers. Near the end of our hike we came really close to some llamas that we named fernando and alejandro after that lady gaga song that is really popular here. Overall, it was an amazing experience!
on sunday i went ziplining! it was such a crazy adventure! we pulled up to this camp place and it looked kind of shady at first. there was a big recreation center for little kids with a wooden slide and a trampoline. there were 6 ziplines that we got to do, and the first one was like the same height as the one at banner and i was like oh this is easy but then they got crazy high! it was so much fun! but then on the 4th one the guide was like who wants to go first and for some reason i volunteered or my friends were like yea amy you go. so everyone was chanting amy amy. and i just thought it would be like going first all the other times but no. i then looked at the far platform at the end and saw there was no one there! i was like wait how am i going to stop?? and then the guide was putting my harness on differently and asking me to do something with my legs that i didnt understand at first but then i figured out he wanted me to wrap my legs around my waist and he coming with me to get to the other side. then he told me to let go of my hands on the zipline and i was like you have got to be kidding me. but he was serious. my harness was attached to his but i was freaking out that i wouldnt be holding onto anything with my hands. i was like im going to die i cant do this i cant do this but then i let go and we were flying and it was soo cool! i looked down and then closed my eyes and screamed my high pitched scream the whole way, but it was such a crazy adventure!! afterwards i couldnt breathe for 5 minutes and i was shaking but it was awesome.
today i went to this sweet museum for my literature class. It was called El Museo de Las Conceptas, and it used to be a convent and then they turned the hospital part into a museum in the 80s. My host mom told me that a long time ago the first born daughter had the responsibility of always living with her parents and taking care of them while the youngest daughter was obligated to become a nun. the nuns could never leave the convent, and they had to cut off their hair and cover their faces with a veil. some of the statues in the museum have real hair from the girls who had to cut their hair off when they became nuns. the museum showed where they would cook and had displays of the girls toys. there were also beautiful works of religious art that had many characteristics of the baroque era. we even saw the cemetery where the nuns were buried which was kind of creepy. there were holes in the wall shaped like rectangles big enough to fit a person. it was really interesting!
now im off to lunch and then ceramics class later! hope all is well back in the states!!