UBC´s Ecuador Summer Study Abroad Program ends tomorrow. May 5th through June 14th. It´s crazy how fast time flies. It was extremely difficult summarizing the whole experience in my five page final essay for today, but I think it turned out rather well in the end. Writing it yesterday while we were out at the grandparents´ farm again definitely got me reflecting on this incredible journey…definitely reminded me how lucky I am to be here.
We went out dancing both Thursday and Friday night, but Thursday was with a larger group to this discoteca called Zo (on the Calle Larga) and Friday was just me, Gemma, and her brother here in Cuenca to this bar called Julian Matadero. I had more fun Friday I think because there was live music and the bar was a little less smoky and a little less grimy than Zo. On Friday afternoon, also, Gemma, Alejandro, and I went to the thermal pools, where we stayed for some three hours, just relaxing and talking in the pool. It was a perfect cloudy day to be in the pools, but because I´m a space case and COMPLETELY forgot how powerful the Cuencan sun is…after eating a giant churrasco plate at the mall, when I got home to shower I realized that my ENTIRE back was completely burned…it hurt like mad that night, but my mom thankfully had aloe vera and helped me put it on. It hasn´t caused me any pain since though, but it was probably the worst burn I´ve ever had. And good thing my face cream has UV protection, otherwise my face would probably be just as red right now.
On Saturday, Arturo and his friend drove a group of us out to Inga Pirca, this fabulous Incan ruin site about an hour and a half from Cuenca. Although it was cold and started to rain at one point, the ruins were quite impressive and there was also a pack of llamas just chilling when we were there. And once again, I was completely in awe of the Andean surroundings. We ate a traditional meal for lunch, with pork, mote, and tortillas de maiz, and then visited briefly Arturo´s friend´s husband´s farm, where they had some absolutely gorgeous horses.
Saturday night, I stayed in, and then yesterday we went to the grandparents´again, for another incredible lunch of thin breaded beef, avocado, mote, mashed potatoes, and a lettuce and cilantro salad, after which instead of cooking with my grandfather, I had to write my essay…but somehow I pulled it all together and was able to focus on the company of my family as we ate tuna salad and rice for dinner, followed by delicious tortillas de maiz and hands down some of the best coffee I´ve ever had in my life. Gemma, Alejandro, and their mom were there for dinner too, and I can´t tell you how special it was to be there with all of them. My grandparents once again extended their invitation to have me stay with them should I return to Cuenca in the future, and I truly do hope to visit again some day.
I typed up my essay when we got home that night, and my sisters Angie and Gachis helped me edit. Angie and I hung out in my room for a while after, just goofing around like real sisters. This morning I went for a walk with my mom along one of Cuenca´s four rivers, Yanuncay, which was really nice. I´m glad I got a chance to walk with her. She also went through my essay for me, and then I came here with Gemma. It´s been a short but fun stay here in Cuenca, but sadly after today I´ll have to say goodbye. That´s why instead of going to the National Park today, even though I really want to go, I´m going to spend the afternoon with my family, and my mom is going to make her famous tacos; Xavi and Fede have been raving about them since day one. Tonight, we have our farewell dinner with the group, and then tomorrow we´re off to Montañita! I promised my brothers and Gachis I´d wake up early with them to say goodbye before they go off to school…it´ll definitely be hard to say goodbye to them. They´ve been so good to me, and it´s been a good experience for me to act as a role model for them. I´m so grateful to have spent this time with them; I hope they´ll remember me as I´ll remember them.