Settling In

So, I wrote the following on Sunday, when it was all fresh in my memory…then more life happened and I never got the photos captioned and together until now, so it is a little bit of old news (and some things have since changed—more on that next Sunday) but better late than never, right?

Somehow, this week, in great contrast to the last one, has flown by. As I have settled into my routine a bit here, I have less new-ness to report, and will try and keep my verbose self from rambling on too much, plus I hope to get a lot of pictures up for y'all, since that whole "worth a thousand words thing" and all…

The First week of classes had its fair share of logistical issues, as you might expect-trying to time how long it takes from leaving my house to arriving in my classroom (20 minutes with cheese bread pit-stop, and not walking to to fast—not bad) and then there was the whole issue of where exactly my classrooms were, in which building, which room etc. The week started on a Tuesday, with Spanish from 9-12:30 (there is a half hour break from 11-11:30, so hence I picked up the cheese bread habit…) but I am happy with my level of Spanish, we are reviewing the things I need to review (past tense verbs) and heading into new exciting verb territory. I went home at after class, took a nap and had some lunch and then returned at 4 for my "Masculinitys, Gender and Power" class that promised to be interesting, and I am excited to get the Ecuadorian perspective, as long as I can make it through all the readings, the in-class lectures should be easy enough to follow, the Professor's Spanish is slow and clear enough. The class voted to not have a break but instead get done earlier, so it looks like I will be home by 6 rather than 6:20, which will be nice. I rose bright and early for my 7am "History of Art in Ecuador and Latin America" only to sit in a professor-less classroom for an hour with the other students, the Ecuadorians playing cards in the corner, un-fazed. Apparently the first week often is like this, it takes a while to figure things out…

I had a nice day off on Thursday (so it was really only a three day week, no wonder it felt so short!) because of national protests going on in this, Ecuador's capital city. The reason for the anti-government protests, as I understand it, is many faceted, and I am still sorting out for myself how I personally feel about this president's governing history so far. I currently have very mixed feelings about him, but it seems I am in the minority in that opinion, most Ecuadorians seem to either love him or hate him. To get back to my story, Because of strikes by taxi-drivers and inability to navigate through the city due to the sheer amount of people in the streets (many indigenous people were bussed in to participate) the university canceled classes for the day. Additionally, since it is illegal for foreigners to participate in protests, and perhaps to even be present, we (the Earlham students) were ordered not to leave the house to avoid any sticky situations. My body took that as an opportunity to get a cold (sore throat, headache, ach-y back and generally fatigued) so I was very happy to lay low in the house and relax, and get a few to-do list things done.

I felt much better by Friday (lingering cough though) which might also have something to do with the fact that the Cotapaxi volcano erupted that morning, (its last real eruption was in the 1800s sometime, I am told) so there is a bit of ash floating around in the air. Fear not dear friends and relations, I am perfectly safe, I am far enough away that there is no danger of coming anywhere near any lava (I am not about to become fossilized in igneous rock for all time) the bigger concern is landslides nearer to the actual volcano (again, I am much too far away to be effected) I have a mask to wear when outside to protect me from breathing in too much ash, and the university is keeping us well informed about safety precautions as they come up.

I found a German wheel
For all my circus friends: This is a German wheel I found sitting outside the gym, in addition to aerial silks they apparently have other circus-y things!
me doing aerial silks (1)
As promised, photos of me doing aerial silks (not in Ecuador, but I will have photos of that too, hopefully soon) Just as a reference for what I was talking about in the last post-this is what aerial silks are.
me doing aerial silks (2)

Saturday my host family and I went to some hot springs way up in the mountains. They are apparently less well-known, because when you drive up, there appears to be only one shallow pool, but lucky for me, my family knew the secret beauty of this place. If you kike down this terrifyingly rickety set of wooden stairs you arrive at a riverside paradise. It was rainy, cloudy and cold (not a great day for being at the beach, which was where I first thought we were going) which is however, perfect weather for bathing in hot springs in the Andes mountains (how grand that sounds!) I spent the day bathing in the beautifulest mineral-rich water, bubbling right out of the earth, right next to a raging writhing river-splashing and spritzing me with cool mists just as I was getting too hot, the droplets of rain and mist landing into hair in white specks…back floating and looking up into the cloud shrouded sky for hours until my fingers and toes became well-beyond pruned, or hiking up the mountain with a view of the far of lake just visible through the cloudy fog, taking in the beauty like the air-in big gulping wonderful lung-fulls, soaking all the beauty into my very soul…Yes, it was as wonderful as it sounds. Places like that utterly re-charge me for whatever is thrown my way. My spirit that is, my body was in fact exhausted, and I was much too tired to go out that evening with some friends, that will have to be an adventure for another time.

The beautifully misty mountains on our way to the hot springs
The beautifully misty mountains on our way to the hot springs
The view from the parking lot
The view from the parking lot (you can just see the lookout hut where I hiked to across the valley)
Some wacky tree
Some wacky tree that appears to be growing some type of sea creatures??
More wacky plants
More wacky plants (Ximena says there are forests full of these a few valleys away)
descending the impossibly rickety and slippery stairs to the valley springs
An unfortunately blurry picture of Ximena and Gustavo (host parents, remember?) descending the impossibly rickety and slippery stairs to the valley springs.
The view of the main pool
The view of the main pool from the slippery trail down, this is where we spent a lot of hours getting prune-y fingers
The mineral-rich water stains the rocks with intense colors
The spot where the steaming, mineral-rich water issues from the mountain, staining the rocks these intense colors
The walk up the mountain
The walk up the mountain (I wasn't wearing my swim suit at the time, but I forgot my phone so we had to pose later, naturally).
my host family
A slightly goofy picture of my host family (back to front) Alisa, Gustavo, Ximena and Dana
The downstream view from the main pool
The downstream view from the main pool
Crossing to the other side of the river to more pools
Crossing to the other side of the river to more pools
My face and the river
My face and the river
Enjoying the hot springs
Enjoying the hottest of the hot springs (as in you emerge from this pool after 5 minutes, which is all you can stand, lobster red, steaming and a bit dizzy)

Today has been a relaxed day-learned one way to prepare "platano verde" (mashed unripe plantain fried with green onions and mixed with "queso fresco") which I quite like. It has been a finish my homework and blogging day, preparing to go to bed early to get up for that 7:00 class that hopefully actually exists…

Ok, so my attempt at "keeping it short" was kind of a failure unfortunately…