Fuego y Lluvia

I think Monday was pretty normal, class, aerial silks, more class. Tuesday was not normal. Towards the end of our "hora cultural" in which there was Ecuadorian food, dancing and a song brought to us by Prospero, the Zambian priest in our class, I got a call. Who would be calling me? Everyone who has this number knows I am in class till 12:30…I call the number back after class-it was Gustavo, telling me to not come home, and to tell Sarah and Tyler that we would have to have them over for lunch some other day. There was a large fire about two blocks away from the house, and the smoke was pretty bad. Sure enough, when we got outside, this is what greeted us:

Menacing cloud of smoke near my house (1)
See that menacing cloud of brown smoke? That is the direction of my house…
Menacing cloud of smoke near my house (2)
As it slowly covered pretty much the entire sky, we got a little worried…
Menacing cloud of smoke near my house (3)
And eventually the sun, lending an eerily apocalyptic look to the lighting in the city

Us three sophomores went to Sarah's house for lunch instead of mine, trying not to worry too much about whether or not our (Tyler and my) houses were burning. When the internet and power went out for a while we were indeed pretty nervous…but when I got a hold of Gustavo soon enough, and we discovered that they were all fine, as were the houses, and the fire was pretty much contained. Ximena and Gustavo were probably going to leave soon to avoid the last of the smoke, but it was safe to come back and grab my things for class at 4. This is how things looked when we finally crept back into the neighborhood:

View of the mountain that was causing all of the smoke (1)
So allll that smoke was coming from this mountain, right outside my window-this is just the last traces of it when we finally got home.
View of the mountain that was causing all of the smoke (2)
There was still a few angry orange flames licking at the mostly blackened mountain
View of the mountain that was causing all of the smoke (3)
The fires kept flaring up again throughout the evening
View of the mountain that was causing all of the smoke (4)
And as dusk fell
View of the mountain that was causing all of the smoke (5)

After class on that same day, I finally started my 3000 word analysis of three different works of art….due Wednesday. I finished at 2:30 am-nothing like a forest fire to throw off your homework schedule I guess! But it really shows how different life with a family is from life in the dorms-last semester 2:30 was late, to be sure, but far from unheard of as a bedtime because of put-off homework. Here though, it felt like an all-nighter compared to my usual bedtime of 11 or maybe on a late night midnight-interesting.

Wednesday was interesting in that I wore a skirt. Now, that wouldn't seem to be very far out of the ordinary, right? And this is indeed what I thought when I put it on in the morning. Now, normally I get essentially no attention from men as I walk to school. But THIS morning I could feel so many eyes on me (this might also have had something to do with the fact that I got to school and realized I was wearing earrings from 2 different sets…) but I doubt the honks from passing cars could have been for that reason, or the increase in "holas" from normal…

goofy mirror selfie
I will admit to this goofy mirror selfie…not something I normally do, but it was just to document the modesty of this outfit (the skirt was past my knees!) and my confusion at its reception, I swear!

Anyway, we went to see a presentation at the university of "Young Peoples Ambassadors from Taiwan" -kind of random, but interesting, and it included some traditional Ecuadorian dances as an element of cultural exchange as well:

Ecuadorian dances (1)
An unfortunately blurry picture of the Ecuadorian portion of the presentation.
Ecuadorian dances (2)

To continue the weirdness that a skirt apparently produces; on my way out of campus after the show, this guy from another Spanish class asked me out for coffee. I had been warned that he was kinda creepy by another girl in my class, not to mention he looks at least 30… Needless to say I said no! Then, not 5 minutes later, I am pretty sure I was almost asked out again! So I don't actually know this, but Prospero, the Zambian priest in our class, and other guy were walking together when I ran into them leaving the gym, and the other guy did that weird little eyebrow raise that guys do sometimes. So, fearing the worst-OK, just that he too might try and ask me out too- I left as fast as possible. As I was walking away I heard Prospero say "quick, she's leaving!"……I certainly could have misunderstood that, but I didn't stick around to find out.

And to top it off, on my walk home I got a honk/shout and another weird eyebrows raised significant "hola", and if I am not mistaken (and I might be on this one too) the police car even sounded the siren at me! Moral of Wednesday's story: don't wear skirts and expect things to be the same as usual.

Thursday and Friday were blissfully uneventful. Friday evening after Rodolfo's class, we all met up again at 6 to go and see a play called: "El país de la canela" (The country of Cinnamon). The plan was to get two taxis and meet up near the theater for dinner before the show.

Tyler, Michelle, Sarah and I piled into a taxi, and everyone else in the other one. We weren't exactly sure of the address of the theater, but when we described what we thought was its general location to the driver he set off. There was a lot of traffic, but it really shouldn't have take us 50 minutes and $5 to get there (to give you some perspective, the minimum fare is $1.50 and that can get you pretty far-and people pay $20 to travel an hour or more away, so a $5 taxi ride is pretty spendy) Or wait…get where? Where were we exactly? We were by the Ministry of Sports, not the Ministry of Agriculture, and that gas station was not the one we had told him either…upon asking a kind pedestrian, we discovered we were about a half hour walk away from our destination, so probably farther away than we had started off. Great.

It was now dark and we were more or less lost (and we discovered that my phone-the only one that was charged and with us-has run out of credit, so we could receive Rodolfo's calls asking us where the heck we are, but couldn't make any) We set off walking to find another taxi to take us to where we actually needed to go. But Michelle's flats were killing her blisters. Ok, we we switched her size 9 feet into my size 10 shoes (she looked a bit clownish) and my size 10 feet were crammed into her stiff size 9 flats (I got a small taste of what it might have been like to be an ancient Chinese woman with bound feet…) and we soldiered on.

Eventually we found a much nicer and more helpful taxi driver who not only took us where we needed to go directly, at a reasonable price, he also showed us how to avoid getting cheated in the future. By the time we finally arrived, it was too late to get dinner before the show, so we huddled in a circle eating potato and dorito chips. W stood on the corner of a busy street, giggling at how cold we were, and how ridiculous we surely looked.

The show was wonderful. Two men and a woman told the story of Francisco de Orellana, the Spanish conquistador who went in of Cinnamon in the Amazon, and was the first European "discover" it. The story was told through a brilliant mix circus-esque abilities (rolling globe, juggling, acrobatics, and music/sound effects (from accordion to guitar to who what as percussion) It was a mixture as well, of modern and historically accurate (albeit hammed-up) facts, all done essentially one set that consisted of a mat, and the globe, a the instruments, and three peoples bodies. They took us from Quito to the Amazon, in boats and through vicious fights with dogs, mosquitoes and amazonian warrior queens….quite well done, and certainly relevant to our class with Rodolfo.

By the time the show was over, the chips were no longer filling up sufficiently, so we walked over to "Adam's Rib" (Michelle very impressed with the biblical pun) when we chatted and generally ridiculous in the nearly empty restaurant at almost at night. The food was alright, but the best part was hanging with those goofy Earlhamites-we all agreed we missed that atmosphere.

There was no energy left for anything more exciting but sleep I got home at around midnight. Saturday was a thoroughly day-I cleaned my room and did some half-hearted homework in morning, then watched a movie and talked to friends back home rest of the day. The drama of the day was indeed tense however, it just didn't involve me directly.

In the morning, when Gustavo was leaving the apartment to Mila off to go to her volunteering site, he was talking to neighbor lady. Now, some background on her: she is apparently nasty sort of person, very condescending and uncooperative, and add to all this, her maid consistently leaves the apartment's to the garden open, and because of this, one of the other neighbors recently got robbed (she refuses to do anything about however). As far as I understand, she was attempting to Gustavo's path out of the apartment, so he moved her hand Well. She later decided to press charges against him for physical assault against an elderly woman-she claimed he fractured forearm, by slamming the door on it. This was allegedly before moved a very large and heavy rock in the family's usual parking spot to prevent Gustavo from parking there…

I was the star in various videos Ximena took, proving that it was physically impossible for him to have fractured her arm because of the way the door opened and where she was standing at the time. Despite the absurdity of the whole situation, Gustavo was detained all day Saturday until his trial at 10 pm. Needless to say the family was in a bit of an uproar-what would happen? Would they see how absurd her claim was? If not, he would be in jail for 15 days….I sat in the car with the daughter of another neighbor who was brought in to the trial as a character witness for Gustavo. Anyone who knows Gustavo at all could tell you that he is the last person who would do anything violent, let alone fracture an elderly woman's arm, no matter how obnoxious and crazy she is! Justice prevailed in the end-I was never really worried like everyone else, it had to work out, since she was obviously—and we all went home to bed, much relieved nevertheless.

Sunday was a day of shopping with Ximena (grocery shopping for her cooking class) the highlight of which was 30 mandarin oranges for a dollar, and getting to try a new fruit called Pepino that looks like (and has the texture of, more or less) a striped tomato (except yellow and purple) but tastes like a melon…I will get a picture next time… I did some homework too I guess…

Today there was no silks (which I found out when I showed up-and people were playing basketball in our gym instead…always nice to be informed…) and no art class, but I had a meeting with my classmate about the midterm paper we are writing together for Gender class. But the real exciting part was that during the meeting: IT RAINED! Hallelujah! Not the fog, or teasing of last week, but a real good solid cloud burst. Thus finishing off with la lluvia, what was el fuego a little less than a week ago.

View of the mountains after the rain
Real rain at last! The poor parched and burned earth sighs with relief as clouds of rain gather, instead of clouds of smoke.