The park in Quito fills with people in the morning- volleyball, soccer, BMX, even a bowl style skatepark there. Pullup bars, parallel bars, everything I could imagine-- even a plane! A legitimate plane sits in the middle of a fenced area, covered in art and graffiti. I love the active atmosphere.
One of the days we visited a massive, ancient looking church called the Basilica. We got to climb one of the tall towers in the church, crossing this janky, wooden cross walk and ascending an almost vertical set of metal stairs. The scariest moment of the trip for me so far-- makes me scared for skydiving and bungee jumping in South Africa. The church was beautiful, ornate with stained glass and gold colored arches. The architecture was stunning-- one of the strange moments for me happened when we moved through a live mass with our cameras clicking photos left, right, up, down, everywhere. Even as we walked into a private room with people praying in silence, the sound of our cameras pierced the air. I tried not to disturb their praying-- I felt so touristy. Walking out of the church there was a small procession of old women with their hands outstretched, yearning for pennies, anything.
The food in Ecuador has been amazing- a lot of rice has continued from Costa Rica, but not as many beans. In the mission, a typical breakfast includes tea, bread, juice and a hot meal, such as eggs and spinach or a fried dough consistency pastry, sometimes yogurt or a fruit cup. They serve soup a lot too, all different kinds, most of which have potato in them, one even with quinoa. Dinners range from meat and rice to quiche like foods, and one night we had an amazing pan dessert. I am not sure what a staple food in Ecuador is, but rice is certainly a main component. I enjoy all of the tropical fruits- mora, gaunabana, maracuya, pina, all of these amazing tastes. People use them for juices, ice cream, tarts, everything really. Nothing like that in CT.
I had some spanish lessons to refresh and remember all of my high school knowledge, everyone did. Right after the lessons, I found myself talking more spanish than english, and loved how I could talk so easily compared to the beginning of Costa Rica when I fumbled to even order a water. My teacher was so energetic it astounded me-- very interpersonal here too, as far as greetings. A kiss on the cheek and a hug is customary when meeting someone, except guy to guy. Greetings are essential- even leaving or entering a room it is expected that you say hello and goodbye, or buenos dias etc. Generally people like company, and during our cultural talk our host named Myriam said that most Ecuadorians do not like being alone, contrary to the American cultural value of privacy. Today we went to see the Itchimbea park, and got to see the Virgen de Quito. The view was unreal- Quito lies in a valley next to the Pichincha mountain, and looking across the verdant, rolling hills I see houses of all colors creeping up into the mountains. So awesome- Cotopaxi, the highest mountain in Quito, has summit at over 19,000 feet, and still holds snow. Very tempting to think about climbing, but it reminds me about how difficult the glacier environment was. Soon we will be retreating into the Atahaulpa villages at 11,000 to 12,000 feet with our host families. My family has seven sons! I feel nervously excited for meeting me new family-- like I am entering a house that is not mine. New culture, foreign language, new home, new people- infinite room for learning through mistakes. Soon I will probably be sitting taking a cold, bucket shower dreaming of surfing, tea, and endless rice.