It´s hard to believe we only have five days left in Quito. I´ve only been here for two weeks, and it already feels like home. I´m excited to go to Baños next week, but I also can´t bear the thought of saying goodbye to this wonderful city, my new friends, and of course my unbelievable family.
It´s been a decent couple of days, but not as exciting as my birthday weekend. This is something I´m still learning to accept, that it´s unrealistic to be on cloud nine all the time. It makes sense that it felt that way the first week or so, but what I need to work on is not feeling sad when things aren´t as exciting as I´d like. Like right now, it´s useless for me to be worrying about the fact that we´re leaving Quito next Wednesday. My goal for the next five days is to enjoy every moment and not worry about having to say goodbye to it all in five days. This is only part one of my Ecuadorean (and then Peruvian) adventure. Just writing about it reminds me how lucky I am. Two weeks down, six to go. It´s all still so unreal.
Sunday night, after I finished my essay, Gabo and I watched TV till like one in the morning. It´s still pretty hard for me to watch Spanish telenovelas, where they speak ridiculously fast, but CSI Miami in Spanish is pretty easy to understand. It was a fun brother-sister night, and my speaking and comprehension has gotten good enough that whenever he makes fun of me, not only do I understand, but I can also dish it right back. It´s quite an achievement for me, I have to say. Then again, out of all my family, Gabo´s the easiest to understand. Plus, he speaks enough English that it´s easy for us to figure things out.
After school on Monday, Gabo and I were both pretty tired so we returned to the valley earlier than normal, right when it started to POUR. I had homework to do, and he had an English test the next day, so we spent several hours in my room studying and helping each other. It is definitely useful to have a Spanish-speaking brother when you´re trying to translate from English to Spanish.
That night was also my older brother Xavier´s birthday, so we had a family dinner with mi mama, Gabo, Xavier, Xavier´s friend Jorge, my sister Angeles, and her husband Edison. We had a delicious soup followed by chicken with rice and beans, and probably the best juice I´ve had since I´ve been here. I wanna say it was canteloupe or something tropical like that, but I forgot to ask. Iron Man (El Hombre de Hierro) was also on that night, so after we finished dessert Gabo and I watched it in my room.
On Tuesday after class, we went to the Capilla del Hombre, which is a museum near the Parque Metropolitano that displays the works of Guayasamin, a famous Ecuadorean artist, whose style resembles that of Picasso. I was literally blown away. Guayasamin focuses, essentially, on the suffering of humankind, but also on hope and humankind´s capacity to persevere and overcome adversity. A lot of his works emphasize faces and hands, and what struck me the most was the amount of emotion that he was able to capture in his paintings. I´m extremely glad we visited the museum as a class requirement; it reiterated for me the fact that yes, I am taking six credits of Spanish while I´m here, but it doesn´t feel like regular school because I get to take a Spanish class IN a Spanish-speaking country AND study the culture of the country in which I´m living AND immerse myself in it. It´s wonderful.
After the museum, we bussed over to La Foch in the Mariscal for drinks and dinner, and then afterwards I went bowling with Raquel, my brother, and some of our friends. The lanes were full when we got there, so we ended up playing pool. I was nervous and didn´t want to embarrass myself, but Raquel and I ended up playing a short game after getting ice cream. It was fun, but Gabo and I went home shortly after because we were both tired.
Wednesday, I went to Supermaxi (basically the Walmart of Quito) with Lorena to pick up some things, and afterwards went to el departamento de los franceses, where I was to stay the night because Gabo had to go out to the bananera (the family´s banana farm) to check up on some things and sign contracts. Marine and I went shopping in QuiCentro because I´m really short on clothes, and then met up with the rest of the group at the Casa de la Cultura for the Ballet Folklorico. It was an entertaining show, but a few parts confused me because they seemed to be directed at tourists, and that turned me off a little bit. Nevertheless, the energy was great, and the music was probably my favorite part of the whole thing. Four guys, one drum, one guy on wind instruments, and two guitars = a truly unique, upbeat, and enticing sound.
Today, we went to La Compañia church in the Centro Historico and then the Banco Central, where we had brief tours as a class. The church, if I remember correctly, is of the 17th century Baroque style, and pretty much the entire inside is covered and inlaid with gold. Pretty impressive. The bank tour wasn´t as exciting because it essentially displays the history of money and coinage in Ecuador. I wish I had been a bit more alert, but I was tired and wasn´t as interested as I could have been.
Now I´m here in this Internet cafe, which is a bit more pricey than most, but it´s worth it. I haven´t been online at all since Sunday, and I figured it was time to update things so I don´t forget. I haven´t been taking that many pictures this week, so I don´t have any new ones at the moment to put up. What´s next? The world famous textile market at Otavalo on Saturday; I´m so stoked. And then we´re off to Baños on Wednesday, for a week in the jungle on the face of a volcano, Tungurahua. Rafting, horseback riding, tubing, ziplining, and hiking are in my future. Plus lots and lots of insect repellent. It should be incredible.
Here´s to an amazing last five days in Quito; it´s been a thrill. Ciao amigos!