Bevie and Papa.. i haven't forgotten you. As long as i am feeling better tomorrow i will give y'all a call.
Bevie and Papa.. i haven't forgotten you. As long as i am feeling better tomorrow i will give y'all a call.
Sorry for the break in posting. It has been a combination of, "everything hurts and I´m dying" and watching a bunch of movies in my apartment. I have been sick for the last week, and before that I have felt like being a homebody. Nothing too exciting in that, I know.
We just hit our semester mid-point, or something, so I have been scrambling to complete grades and all of that jazz. I´ll get back to my travel adventures when I get over this wicked cold.
This weekend was pretty much exactly what I needed. I ate great food with friends, read in a hammock for hours, slept in, drank wine, and shopped. I am 90% sure that is the modern Hierarchy of Needs for sure. I took a fair amount of pictures, but I´ll put those up later.
We got there about 6ish Friday, and hung out while dinner was being prepared. We then had a delicious dinner, and all bummed around until we passed out. Saturday morning was a little slack, but once we all ate and got caffeinated, we headed off to the market. Our unofficial group leader told us the walk wasn´t very far, "maybe 30 minutes". The Guapulo crew decided that, since we already hike up a hill daily, a mere 30 minutes was nothing. Jokes on us though.. it was pretty intense. It ended up being closer to an hour, and about half of it was at a pretty steep incline. Honestly, it wasn´t the worst walk ever, but it was a little more intense than usual. The view was absolutely breathtaking though. We were winding through little roads that butted up to farms, gardens, and a gorgeous church. And, once we made it into town, we were passed by some kind of religious procession. It was pretty cool to watch. After we got into town we had coffee, like a good American group, and then set out to shop. When you see all my awesome goods, you will be so jealous. I got a massive alpaca blanket with a majestic alpaca on it. I also bought a hat, a cool mask, a necklace, and a gorgeous camera strap made out of Ecuadorean textiles. (Dad shoutout-- let me know if you would use one, and I will send one your way.) After we survived dirt roads and sun, we headed back. I then spent the rest of the day napping in the hammock while I held a book. The intention was there, but the napping took over.
The next day we headed back home. We took a detour to go to a crater lake that was GORGEOUS. Man. It looked just like a scene from Jurassic Park. And, since I am an official Dinosaur Supervisor, I kept everyone from being eaten by raptors. And by "keeping people safe" I really mean I just took surprise pictures of everyone taking pictures of other people. All in all, it was a success.
Until we got back on the bus.
Originally, the ride was supposed to be 2 hours. However, thanks to traffic, it was closer to 6 hours. Nothing says "let´s get to know each other" like being trapped in a small space with 24 people and their dead cell phones. It was nice though. I enjoyed just kinda chatting about basic crap with people. I also learned, through a game of 20 questions, that no one knows what a damn embroidery hoop is. I told them all they were uncultured, but the irony of me being from Mississippi was not lost on them.
Another weekend, another success. Go team!
I booked my flight and set up my reservation for my super awesome trip in November. I will be going to : http://www.cuyabenolodge.com/ with a group of coworkers. The level of excitement I am feeling is almost too much for me. This is something I absolutely never thought I would be able to go to in a million years. On top of that trip, I am going on 2 other ones in the near future. I will be going to the only inhabited crater on earth (http://www.ecuadortravelsite.org/pululahua_volcano.html) in October and to one of the oldest markets in South America this weekend. (http://www.ecuadorexplorer.com/html/otavalo.html) All in all, I have a whole lot going on. I also very much want to plan a larger trip to Peru, Chile, or Belize sometime in the next 6 months. While I am down here, there is no reason to not just see every single thing that I can.
The name of my little side of town is Guapolo, and I LOVE it. It is adorable because it has just an amazing amount of culture. It sits on the way into the valley (Cumbaya) and it also overlooks the mountain/volcano. And, if I understood my neighbors correctly, it is one of the oldest neighborhoods in town. Here is the wikipedia info about it:
"Guápulo is a district of Quito, Ecuador, also called an electoral parish (parroquia electoral urbana). The parish was established as a result of the October 2004 political elections when the city was divided into 19 urban electoral parishes. Set behind Hotel Quito, the neighborhood of Guápulo runs down the winding Camino de Orellana, from González Suárez to Calle de los Conquistadores, the main road out of Quito and to the neighboring suburbs.  Often considered an artsy, bohemian neighborhood of Quito, Guápulo is home to many local artists and a couple of hippy cafés/bars. Every year on September 7 the guapuleños honor their neighborhood with the Fiestas de Guápulo, a fantastic celebration complete with costumes, parade, food, drink, song, dance, and fireworks.
Guápulo Park  is a 19.5 hectares, 48 acre public park.   The park is administered by the Public Sector under the Parks and Public Spaces Urban Spaces that is under the National Plan for Good Living as to the creation of green spaces for cultural practices, recreational and sports activities.
Originally Guápulo was founded as an independent city by the Spaniards. It is told that on December 30 1696 the miracle of Our Lady of the Cloud took place on the way between Quito and Guápulo."
The "Fiestas de Guapulo" was so freaking cool! Honestly, in a lot of ways it reminded me so much of Mardis Gras. The music they played reminded me of all the music I hear in the Quarter, and the overall feeling was just so familiar. It was a nice touch of home for sure. On Saturday was the big massive music gathering. It was on the plaza of the church and totally packed with people. My apartment´s terrace overlooks the whole thing, so we had a bunch of teachers over for drinks and people-watching. It was absolutely surreal. And right before the dancing and drinking, there was the processional of the Virgin Mary. People surrounded in wearing gorgeous and weird costumes. I am uploading the pictures tonight, so don´t worry. The next day was the wild portion of the weekend. The entire neighborhood stocked up on oranges, and at 5:00, they threw out hundreds of them for people on the streets to catch. It was total mayhem. At least I learned one thing-- I play derby for a reason. I apparently catch oranges about like I played softball: terribly and awkwardly. Oh well.. another day, another adventure!
"Life is what they gave,
love is what I was promised
death is all I got"
That is an amazing haiku that one of my students wrote. Now, the impressive part: I assigned them to write haikus in the last 5 minutes of class as just kind of a "we´re about to leave, so try this out" activity. I told them they could turn it in the next day for bonus.. and then they rolled in with colored, drawn, and fancy hakius. It blew my mind. Another one that I really like is:
"Only love she wanted
Victor thought he could win her
But death won her first."
I mean.. seriously? Even as an entire student body, these are good kids. They each get 2 recesses. One is first recess, and the other is their 45 minute lunch break. Never mind how freaking awesome that part is.. they are totally normal and well mannered during what is essentially adult recess. No one fights, yells, throws stuff at each other.. they´re just normal young adults. It is SOO nice.
Another thing I like is the view I have from about 90% of school. I keep meaning to bring my camera up to work, but it never dawns on me first thing in the morning. I promise that I will get to it soon though. I keep expecting to get sick of the view, weather, and food, but then it never happens. I suspect that those things are the exact reason there is such a large expat group.
When I´m not going all googly-eyed about how good I have it here, I have been planning all of the trips I want to take. We have a decent amount of extended breaks, so I plan to do something for all of them. In the meantime, though, there´s about 30 different things I want to see in/around the city. There´s an archeology museum, about 15 art museums, a natural science museum, and a bunch of places where you can see people produce local art, chocolates, and metalworking. I doubt I will ever have a weekend where I am too broke to do anything because 98% of the things to see are free or less than 3 dollars. How freaking awesome is that?
I´m going to end on another awesome haiku:
"I wanted marriage
but he left me for science
Death was my solace"
#SISMO ID: igepn2016rldl Revisado 2016/09/04-19:22:58 TL Magnitud:4.6
Prof 4.73 km, 11.84km Quito,Pichincha Latitud:-0.1489 Longitud:-78.3662
Well.. this was a first. The tremor itself didn't last very long (maybe 30 seconds).. and there wasn't an aftershock. Honestly.. i expected my first tremor to send me into a panic but it didn't. They happen semi-frequently so i will just need to get used to them.
I am SO spoiled. Honestly, just in general, things here are awesome. I have to brag on my kids.. they´re just freaking great. I have 4 classes throughout the day, and each class period is 50 minutes long. (The time is a struggle for me since I have been on block the last 4 years.) My kids are just wonderful. I absolutely adore them to total pieces. Of the 41 kids that I have, I suspect only about 5 of them have not read the summer reading. And even those slackers are most of the way through the book currently. I cannot think of a time, even dating back to my original internship, that my kids actually did the summer reading by the time school started. On top of having read it, they actually have amazingly insightful commentary to add about all the questions I throw at them. They´re also funny, sweet, polite, and so very nerdy. They also work extraordinarily hard as well, but I do understand that that isn´t the case across the board here at school. (That is just typical of education in general.) On top of being just adorable as hell, they have mostly sat with me at lunch to discuss their summer reading assignment that is due next week. They are all worried about making it perfect, and do not want to disappoint me. This whole thing is just blowing my absolute mind.. and I LOVE it.
One thing I am also in love with is all of the food i´m eating and the places i´m walking to. The local food is hella delicious, and I haven´t even tried the street-food yet. I do plan on trying it next weekend when I attend my neighborhood´s weekend festival though. And the fruit. The FRUIT. It is cheap, crazy tasty, and freaking everywhere. The watermelon I have had here is easily some of the best I´ve ever tasted. I also like the way that they cook chicken (no idea what the spices are, but I plan to figure it out.) I am also spoiled because our lunch food here is top of the line Ecuadorean food. It is simply divine. Despite eating tons of fruit and local food, I have lost 11 pounds since landing here. I blame the constant urge to walk everywhere for that. As a result of wandering aimlessly every day, my fitbit puts me at an average of 6.5 miles walked daily. By Christmas, I might actually be a full 2 sizes smaller. (Hopefully.)
We have a bunch of breaks spread out over the school year, and I have already started planning. I think tonight I am going to go ahead and buy my ticket to Peru for my mini break in December. I also told Aidan she needs to start planning to come here for my Christmas break. I think we´re going to check out the hot water spa town for a few days. Everyone here says everything there is crazy cheap and gloriously luxurious. I´m sure Aidan and I can suffer through a few spa days if we must. All she needs to do is get her passport in order, and we´re on. So, readers, just peer pressure her to come out.
Aissa and i threw together a last minute trip to Old Towne. We realized about 20 minutes into our trip that we should probably plan our next trip down there. We grossly underestimated the size of the downtown area and ended up not seeing a whole lot. We're likely going to try again next weekend though. One place we did get to see.. though.. was the Basilica. Our taxi driver told us on the way there that all of the "gargoyles" are actually local Ecuadorean animals. When we got there.. we could figure out about or the 15 creatures. Personally.. the crocodiles were my favorite but i only managed to get a crap picture of them. Maybe when i brush up on my camera abilities i can go back and try again.
Today, in unsurprising news: I have managed to lose my freaking keyboard that I bought specifically because my laptop is missing keys. I went out last night, and i bought a wireless one. LOL, of course it doesn´t work. However, it dawned on me that I can just update through my e-mail at work. Only downside is that the keyboard is obviously different. Considering that I brought this on myself, I think I can survive.
This last week and a half has been unbelievably hectic. We spent the first week getting a run down of all things school. It was a lot of information to take in.. and I feel like my head is always continually going to explode. Granted, that is also half from the altitude as well. Aside from the mayhem that is information, we also spent the week apartment searching. I actually really appreciated the way they did things. They took us to about 15 places as a group, and each apartment had a different component that would appeal to at least a few people in the group. It helped that everyone was more or less looking for something different (1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, modern kitchen, colonial kitchen, etc). I found a few that I just LOVED, but 90 percent of them had one element that I just couldn´t swing. By "element", I really just mean some kind of freak staircase that looks like you would climb it to drop of the ring into Mordor. Considering that I already spend every waking moment being awkward and uncomfortable, I decided to limit that at home if I could. My apartment was right at my threshold though. It is gorgeous, has an amazing view, and I don´t feel like I am going to throw up when I walk up to the terrace. Another thing I like about it is that it is called "The Convent" by the locals. I will take a picture of it soon, and you will see exactly why.
The school-- daaaaaaaaang. They remind me of how a school can actually be run. Now, that could always change (and with my luck, it usually does.) However, it seems to be off to a pretty good start now. And, as I type this, I am sitting in my itty bitty room (which is totally fine because max capacity in here is like 16 kids.) I don´t have the sweet view to the mountains, but literally all I have to do is step outside and BOOM.. mountains. I know you´re thinking, "real mountains, or a hill that looks like a mountain because you´re from MS?" Nope.. a real mountain. Actually, I think there are 3 surrounding us. People keep pointing to them, helpfully, and naming them. Honestly, you could say that they were "cheesecake, work boot, and coral pink" and I would nod my head and forget it right then. All in all though, I am very spoiled with the scenery. It helps that there landscaping plan appears to be: plant every single flower and tree ever to exist ever that is gorgeous and that appears to bloom year round. I fully support this plan of theirs.
Teachers I have worked with-- AVERT YOUR EYES FOR THIS LAST PART.
Are they gone? Alright.. my schedule is amazing. I have one freaking prep, and I see my kids every day. I also have, apparently, only about 15 kids a class. I cannot express how excited I am. I also get to work in the writing lab, and I have regular weekly duty like everyone else. Mine just consists of standing around telling kids to behave. I think I can manage that.
In summation: everything is off to a good start.
pps: I haven´t taken a whole lot of pictures of the surrounding area, but that is on the agenda for this weekend. I will have some up ASAP.
This will be a quick post largely because I can't find my keyboard for my laptop.
The city: daaaaaaaaang. It is crazy gorgeous , and I am continually blown away by the mountain views.
My school: So far, so good ! They've been hella helpful with everything. And by everything.. I mean it. They took us around to like 15 apartments to help us find our perfect fit. They took us to do visa, get groceries, get set up-- the works!
The food: Ugh... So good. I can't even describe it, but I will totally post pictures of it soon enough.
Lastly: the pictures will be coming soon.