Busy But Happy

It's odd how even though I had such a busy week there isn't too much excitement to report-it is also interesting how sometimes being busy makes me happy-I don't have time to miss you all and I sometimes thrive off the pressure I think. I had a midterm essay for gender class "A Crisis in Hegemonic Masculinity: How Men Respond to Feminine Role Changes in the Home and Family" that I wrote with a partner (so lots of meetings…) Then I also had an art essay due Wednesday and another response to a reading for Gender on Thursday and oh by the way 3 different reviews on the play we saw last week and two other readings for Rodolfo's class…so yah, my family pretty much thinks all I do is write essays, which last week at least, was pretty accurate. Lots of late nights and on Wednesday I was on campus for 13 consecutive hours…Somehow though, I managed to get it all done, and even managed to enjoy lunch with Sarah and Tyler at the house on Tuesday-Ximena really outdid herself with desert and layer upon layer of so much delicious food…Saw this familiar sight when leaving class on Thursday night:

Students slacklining in a park

Thursday night I also learned how to make "tostado" which was a fun study break and cultural bonding moment (trying to dodge the hot oil and corn popping out of the pan at us, using the lid as a minimally effective shield…)

Making tostado
Learned how to make "tostado" with Ximena—which is a process of (yep you guesses it) toasting the corn you see on the right with oil, garlic and onion until it looks like the stuff on the left. Then you eat it obsessively until its gone.
Making cervichocho
You can also add it to "cervichocho" which is a surprisingly wonderful concoction ofa certain type of beans ("chochos" ) with tomato sauce, cilantro, onions, lemon juice and tomatoes

Friday night I finished writing that last review for Rodolfo, which I hadn't gotten to before, and went to bed-sometimes that's the biggest luxury of a Friday night… Saturday morning I woke early and after receiving much food to take with me from Ximena, Gustavo dropped me off at school so that the Earlham crew could board the train. In typical Ecuadorian fashion, we didn't actually leave until several hours later, but the tour of the station and the history of trains in Ecuador was interesting.

We finally set of-feeling the rarity of trains as people waved at us and videotaped our passage. I at least thought we were just using the train as transport to then go explore on our own, so I was a bit surprised when it turned out to be an all inclusive tour…The whole experience wasn't bad, it just re-affirmed my instinctual dislike for all-inclusive tours. Reflecting on the reasons more, I guess it made me feel much more like a tourista than a viajero—the "indigenous dancers" that met us as we pulled into the station feeling forced and out of place in the station (Rodolfo had also told us that they weren't actually necessarily indigenous people at all…) and the "farm" tour felt much more like a petting zoo…But we broke away from the group a bit, and hungout with the llamas and the emu in our own way, no guia (guide) needed.

Views of the volcanoes from the train (1)
Views on the "route of the volcanoes" train ride
Views of the volcanoes from the train (2)
Views of the volcanoes from the train (3)
Views of the volcanoes from the train (4)
Reflecting faces into the hills…just noticed that now
Views of the volcanoes from the train (4)
Sitting on the train
Sarah sitting with a dog
Sarah's new best friend

The upside of the day was the beautiful train ride—the views did not disappoint. Also, we essentially didn't stop eating all day. After eating breakfast at home before leaving, I then went and samples everyone else's breakfasts at the station, then we started in on the giant bag of popcorn Ximena had sent, then stopped at a station along the way, and tried everyone else's snacks and ate the first of my egg salad sandwiches, then when we arrived at the final destination, I got abas y choclo, which are essentially giant brown lima-type beans (abas) and corn on the cob, except a different kind that is starchier and whiter and the kernels are pointed (choclo) and that was all drenched in salsa and cheesy sauce, I tried the gummies and ice-cream that others bought, while nibbling the candy that Ximena had sent, then after the "farm" tour we ATE LUNCH-potatoes, rice, salad and an egg, oh and dessert. After a sleepy train ride back, I ate some flan, and some banana cake leftover from the lunch that Ximena had made, and at the other egg sandwich. So, safe to say: lots o food…

After all that, I had a chill evening, in which I watched "Legally Blonde" with Ximena, because she had referenced it earlier and I had never seen it, then later "Maze Runner" (interesting pairing of movies-its also funny how I have to come to Ecuador to catch up on all the Hollywood movies I've never seen) Then to bed.

The middle of the night brought with it some lovely diarrhea and several vomiting episodes-not sure which food of the many did it, but it was not a great night. Sunday I was in my bed and my pjs resting up and drinking the large pitcher of SALT water Ximena gave me to restore my electrolytes…It must have worked though, because by the evening I was well enough to go to "Maze Runner 2" in theaters. Monday morning I was feeling fine, even after aerial silks, and today has brought no signs of illness either.