Last week was a fairly subdued week with mostly routine activities and a little bit of unscheduled fun here and there. On Wednesday I finally called my parents. (Sorry that it only took me a month, guys!) It was so great to hear their voices and just chat about the little things that won’t fit into a text message. And it was cheap too! An hour on the phone only cost me $6 at a phone booth. Definitely the best $6 I’ve spent since getting here!
After getting off the phone I headed to the flower market to buy a thank you for my host mom and sister for being such great nurses while I was sick. When I gave it to my mom, she was shocked. She told me, “But why wouldn’t I take care of you? You’re my daughter!” If she only knew how much that meant to me!
On my way home from the flower market I stopped in a little museum. I’ve probably walked past that museum a hundred times without giving it a second thought. When I was sick over the weekend I spent some time reading my Ecuador guide book and saw a blurb about it. I read that it’s a free museum and houses local artists. So on my way home from the flower market, I figured there was no time like the present! And boy, am I glad I stopped! It was so great because most of the paintings were of Cuenca, sights that I have seen, and the local people. It was beautiful, and I instantly felt even more connected to this place.
On Thursday I felt really homesick for the first time. Ironically, the day after I called my parents. And it came about because I was looking at the Summerfest lineup. It’s such a silly little thing, but it made me think for the first time about what I’m missing at home. Don’t worry, though. I’m over my little bout and am appreciating every day I have here in Ecuador!
Also on Thursday we had our first cooking class. Future roommates: watch out! This girl can now cook Churrasco! It’s the most delicious and tender beef and we served it with rice, vegetables, a fried egg, and homemade french fries. I’m looking forward to future cooking classes to learn how to make even more local (and delicious) food!
After class I was walking past the New Cathedral in the main square and noticed that the doors were open so I figured I’d poke my head in for a look around. And just look at my first view of the cathedral…
It was a GIANT statue of Pope John Paul II! It probably shouldn’t have, but it put me in the most giggly mood for the rest of my walk through the church. This picture can’t even show how massive this statue was! Of a pope! It still makes me chuckle just a little bit!
Thursday night was great! After hearing from everyone at home about how great Toy Story 3 was I figured I had to see it too! I asked my host mom if we could take my 2 year old nephew to see it and she was so excited! I ended up going with her, 2 nephews and 2 nieces. It was definitely a party! And such a great movie! My mood was elevated even more by the fact the the movie was in Spanish and I understood every word! It was such a fun night!
Saturday morning we all got up bright and early for a group trip. This one was really different though, because we weren’t going with the travel agency, or even our group leader! It was just us girls! We had a list of places that we needed to be but it was up to us to get there! CEDEI called it a “Cultural Mapping Activity”. And that it was! We had to use the language so much to ask directions and inquire as to which bus to take to get where. No worries, we ended up being everywhere we needed to be and all made it home okay by the end of the day!
Our little adventure took us to Principal, about 2 hours away from Cuenca by bus, which is a little village way up in the mountains. The most interesting part about the village, though, is that it is inhabited mostly by women! Almost all of the men have left to find jobs abroad and send money back to take care of the women left in the village. The sad truth is, most of the men never return. The women have learned to sustain themselves in the men’s absence by taking up basket weaving. We learned how they grow, boil, and dye the plants to prepare them for weaving. It was very interesting!
My Saturday night was wild! Gladys invited me to a 50th wedding anniversary party that they were going to for her sister-in-law’s parents. It was one of the most elaborate affairs I’ve ever been to! The night started out with a mass and the couple renewed their vows. Then their kids showed a surprise video they had made of the “history” of the couple. It was adorable! Between every (fancy) course, another surprise was announced that included a mariachi band and the 9 year old winner of a national singing competition (he was incredible). After dessert another band came and everyone started dancing. I figured I’d just keep my grandpa company at the table but my host mom pulled me out onto the dance floor! I tried my little American bob and sway but that just wasn’t cutting it! All of these people had fancy little dance steps so I had to pull out my bachata skills from dance class! It worked just fine (with every song) and I had a great time!
On Sunday I was super exhausted from the night before (we didn’t get back until after midnight!) but I forced myself to get out of bed… because I was going to Ingapirca!! If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know that I missed my group’s trip to Ingapirca because I was sick. Earlier this week when I was checking our activity board I noticed that another group was going on Sunday (our free day– what luck!) so I asked if I could tag along and CEDEI said yes! And I am so glad that I asked!
On the way to Ingapirca we made an unplanned stop in Cañar to see the food market. It was full of the most colorful vegetables and fruits! And then we stopped on the side of the road for some Hornada– the most delicious bacon you’ll ever have! What they do is take an entire pig, and blow torch the skin until it’s crispy. Then they slice it off (that’s what we ate) and cook the meat inside. It’s a pretty crude process but the end result is delectable!
Once we made it to Ingapirca I was amazed! It was the most gorgeous day possible! Sorry to brag, but my group (the group I should have gone with) went on a cold and rainy day, so my good luck made me all the happier! Ingapirca is considered to be the best Incan ruins in Ecuador. The main building there, still mostly intact, is the Temple of the Sun…
Can you see how clear and bright the sky is and how green the grass is? It was the most fantastic day! Later we hiked down a small cliff to see the Incan Face. It’s completely natural and 100% incredible! He even has eyelashes! (Can you see him in the background?)
I guess that’s about all for now! I just wanted to give a little shout-out to all the moms reading my blog! I’ll keep posting pictures just for you! Your comments from your daughters keep me excited to blog every week! So thank you!