…And mine came this weekend. That’s right, I’m talking about Traveler’s Sickness, Montezuma’s Revenge, food poisoning: You name it, I got it.
It happens to most when staying in a foreign country with different bacteria than what you are used to. And the longer you are there, the better your chances get. I was mentally prepared and had a slew of medicine to help me through. I ate the culprit food on Friday night, spent the entire weekend in bed, being well looked after by my host family, and I was ready to go to class on Monday. Yes, it really was that simple. Sleep and water were my salvation (that and a get better song from my 2 year old nephew). Although, I was quite upset that I had to forgo the group trip to Ingapirca, Ecuador’s best Incan ruins, on Sunday. But I kept reminding myself “Lindsay, some things are just more important. Like NOT being on a bus for 2.5 hours at this point in your life”. My words of advice helped me through the emotional distress of missing Ingapirca the day before Inti-Raymi. Inti-Raymi is the Incan celebration of the summer solstice and is a very important festival, even today in this area because in ancient times the Inca worshiped the sun god, Inti.
On a happier note: The week since my last blog was very busy and very exciting! So don’t despair!
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday afternoons were spent at ceramics class in la Casa de la Familia Encalada. It was a beautiful home and workshop complete with a parrot and a few adorable dogs that we all crooned over. In addition to playing with the animals, we worked on two assignments. The first was a plate they had already made for us that we could design however we pleased. We used long, thin, wooden sticks (very similar to giant toothpicks) to carve our designs into the plate. When we were satisfied, we had to polish the plate with a rock. By simply rubbing the plate the right way with a smooth rock you can polish it, make it microwave and dishwasher safe, and (somehow) make it almost unbreakable. I still don’t know how it works. But I’m convinced. Also, it’s chemical free! So you don’t have to worry about getting sick from eating off my plate!
Our other task was to sand down another type of ceramic plate and paint it. When we were satisfied, we put a glaze over it. Now, I am not artistic at all but I was so pleased with the end result of my plate that I showed my mom the moment I got home and said, “Look! Now I’m an artist like you guys!” (The joke’s on me. My grandpa is a world-famous sculptor! And my mom has sold some of her paintings!) She pretended to be very impressed by my amateur work and for that, I was very grateful.
Also, as a bonus, I asked to try the potter’s wheel. What an experience! They make it look so easy! Just a pinch of the fingers here, a cupped hand there, but no. Now I can tell you that potters are magicians. I ended up making a goblet-looking bowl with nicely scalloped edges to top it off. I have yet to pick it up from the kiln, but hopefully I will post a picture for you all to see my artistic abilities!
Thursday was our first free afternoon of the week so our group (the shopaholics that we are) planned a market crawl. We found a list of good markets nearby and the best route to and from each. We all got some great finds and spent another excellent afternoon group bonding. (Now for those of you that think we’re going overboard please remember that prices here are much, much lower! I can confidently say that I’ve not spent much more than $100 while souvenir shopping. And for being in a foreign country with excellent merchandise for 3 weeks, I’d say that’s a feat!)
On Friday afternoon I asked my grandpa to show me his gallery. I’ve been itching to see it since I heard about it. It’s right next door to our house, and it’s actually his old house. He lived there until about two years ago when he fell and broke his leg. He was so excited to get out of the house and show me his work! It was probably one of the coolest experiences of my life. I know I’ve been saying that a lot about everything lately, but come on! Have you ever had an artist explain to you the motivation behind this piece and the story behind that piece, about their entire life’s work? For this reason it was, in truth, one of my finer life experiences.
My grandfather, Vicente Rodas, is a sculptor that has artwork in the streets of Cuenca, Quito (Ecuador’s capital), and Guayaquil (Ecuador’s largest city). He has worked in metal, wood, plaster, you name it. He also has some gorgeous paintings and when I asked about them told me that they were his first works. He told me that to be a sculptor, first you have to be good at drawing. Well, that makes sense. To emphasize how well known he is as a sculptor (as if busts of politicians in public places aren’t good enough) he made a bust for the White House and now has a thank you card from Bill Clinton framed in his gallery.
Friday night included more hip shaking and swaying as we learned new steps to the bachata. The group went out for dinner together (as we have made a weekly tradition) but you know the end result of that meal…
Here at CEDEI (our school and host program) they really do know how to keep us busy. Between afternoon cultural activities and classes I’m finding it hard to be bored!
This week I have our first cooking class coming up and an action packed weekend between the group trip and family parties!
I hope everyone in the Midwest made it through the storms okay! I heard they were pretty nasty! I’m thinking of everyone at home! Happy Father’s Day to my wonderful dad and all the other fathers, uncles, and grandpas out there! And also… Happy Birthday Mom!!