What gorgeous weather we´ve been having here! We´re so lucky! Normally the weather´s more sporadic like in Quito, with rain when you least expect it, but so far we´ve been extremely lucky, with gorgeous sun pretty much all day long.
Yesterday was quite a long day…instead of our regular class from 12:30 to 2:30, we went to the Museum of Aboriginal Cultures, which is across the river and up past the Barranco from the University; I lead the way, because apparently our prof finds it extremely difficult reading a map. The museum was small, but it wasn´t super fancy or flashy and I liked the atmosphere. It was essentially a collection of tools and artifacts from aboriginal and indigenous cultures of Ecuador, arranged chronologically throughout the room. It was really neat to see the progression of aboriginal technology, and our guide spoke really well and provided us with a lot of information.
After the museum, we walked east along the busy Calle Larga and then headed north along the Avenida Huayna Capac, one of the principal streets in Cuenca, headed for the Terminal Terrestre, the main bus terminal. We were a group of about eight, and we caught the bus for Gualaceo and the Chordeleg, smaller villages about an hour from Cuenca. The bus ride was a bit stuffy, but the drive was really nice. Again, my awe for the Andes is neverending. I am constantly marveling over the nature here. It absolutely astounds me.
We didn´t spend too much time in either of these towns, but it was a nice sunny afternoon and I was glad to get a chance to explore the areas surrounding Cuenca. There was a ton of affordable silver in Chordeleg, but I didn´t bring much cash with me, so I essentially window-shopped, admiring the handiwork.
The drive back was harder, because the bus was full so we had to stand in the aisle for the majority of the trip. But we arrived back at the Terminal in good time, and I cabbed home with a friend.
I had a really long conversation with Angie last night; for only fourteen years, that girl´s got a lot of wisdom to share. And it was cool because it got to the point where I was speaking much faster and without having to think about what I wanted to say. I wouldn´t say I´m fluent yet, but during times like those, I can really tell how much my Spanish has improved. I really hope I don´t lose all my progress when I return to Seattle in July…I´ve really grown to love the language more than I thought possible, and I am now more than ever sure that I want to major in Spanish. It´s a beautiful language, much more fun for me personally than English.
My plan for the rest of this week (besides taking our final exam tomorrow!!!) is to spend as much time with my family as possible and figure out my plans for after the program ends next Tuesday. As of right now, I´m off to Montañita with a large group on Tuesday, a beachy surfer town on the coast, some three hours from Guayaquil, the largest and most populous city in Ecuador. We´re trying to organize a private bus for our group, because with the amount of luggage we´ve all accumulated, it´d be difficult to switch buses in Guayaquil, what with the reputation of crime and theft the city has. We´d have to pay more, obviously, but for an eight hour bus ride, I think it´s worth it. The majority of the group wants to spend a full five nights there, but I don´t think I need that much time in a party beach town. I´d rather spend a night or two in Guayaquil, and then we´re off to Peru on Sunday the 19th. It´s gonna be a 26 hour bus ride…sure, it´ll be absolute hell but I think it´s an experience worth having. And a $70 bus ride is much more affordable than a $200-$300 flight.
I´ve got just over three weeks left. It´s been an incredible ride. I´m already getting nostalgic about leaving, probably because my final essay that´s due Monday is supposed to encapsulate my entire experience with this study abroad program. I don´t even know where to begin. If nothing else, it´s truly been the experience of a lifetime; I learned so much more than I could´ve ever thought possible. About life, about traveling, about myself, about friendships, about everything. It´s been such a cultural immersion, and, obviously, my Spanish has improved so much, something I´m extremely proud of. This country has so much to offer, and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have experienced it.
I´ll get off my soapbox for now…there´ll be time to reflect and be nostalgic later. Thanks to everyone who´s been reading my blog; your feedback is much appreciated! I hope I´ve done my experiences some justice through my posts; and when I get back, there´ll be pictures galore that I´ll want to share with you! Thanks for your support, my dear friends and family, and I hope you all are enjoying your summers as much as I´m enjoying mine!