Registration Problems, A Salsa Club, And Pichincha

It seems like an eternity since the Chiva, and indeed this is a new low-it looks life I am falling off the blogging bandwagon here towards the end…I apologize, but maybe you will sympathize when you finally do hear allll that I have been up to instead of blogging.

As I alluded to at the end of that far off last post, Monday morning (this would have been November 9th) was registration, and so Kate and Minori woke up at 7, like good little college students to register for Spring semester classes, all picked out and thoroughly thought over. But then I got the looverly message that I could not in fact register for classes, since my account had a hold on it. Oh. So much for being a prepared little college student…It was my fault, I had gotten numerous emails from the accounting office telling me just that (there had been a transcontinental financial aid mix-up…) but in the whirlwind that had been everything the past few days, I hadn't done anything to taking care of it, and thus couldn't register. After some frantic communication with parents and the financial aid office, I decided to skip aerial silks (a shame, since it has gotten a lot more fun and less brutal as I get to do some fancy tricks now-will try to get some pictures for you at some point) but it was necessary to skip-classes are kinda important.

I got into everything I had hoped to (barely) except for one, so I thus spent most of the afternoon muddling over what would work instead. I finally ended up with the following. "Topics in Peace and Justice" which is an upper level English Major requirement. An intro geology class "Earth and Environment" which fulfills my general education "scientific inquiry lab" requirement. Then I have "Classic and Contemporary German Film" which is the last German class I need to take before fulfilling the German half of my "Comparative Languages and Linguistics" (CLL) Major (this class sounds wonderful, but I am a little worried about the fact that every time I attempt to form German sentences these days it turns into Spanish halfway through…) But I guess that fact should help with "Spanish Creative Writing" which I am soooo excited about for so many reasons: Sarah and James are both taking it with me, so we can have mini-Ecuador reunions all the time, it fulfills my applied art general education requirement, and its upper level Spanish credit that can go towards my CLL major as well, AND its creative writing, which I am pretty sure I love! The class I had planned to take, but that filled up before I could get my account hold straightened out was "Physics for Future Presidents" which would have fulfilled my non-lab science requirement (in the least scienc-y way possible-really would have been idea, but apparently 50 other people thought so too…) Instead, I decided to take "Indigenous People and Environmental Justice" partly because it sounds like a fascinating continuation of the thinking we have been doing about Andean indigenous people this semester (except in North America) and partly because my dear friend Malia may be in the successful process of convincing me to be an Environmental Studies minor with her… Before you waste your time telling me: I do appreciate the fact that double majoring (one of those majors already involving two parts) with a minor might just be the best way to graduate college certifiably insane. We will see, I don't have to declare a minor till spring of senior year, so there is time to see how it goes. Long story short: I am pretty jazzed about all the justice, peace, environment and art that awaits me this spring, and if the homework doesn't kill me, then the schedule itself looks good on paper anyway. Whew! That was Monday.

Pretty sure nothing exciting happened on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, our art class went on a field trip to the local museum owned and curated by the daughter of the Czech Holocaust survivor and impressive artist Trude Sojka, who emigrated to Ecuador after the war. Her work is a unique mix of recycled mediums, often combined with cement and painted with acrylics. It was an inspiring journey through her emotional reconciliation with her experiences of horror in Auschwitz, and other camps. I chose to analyze "El Ave Fénix" which I thought fitting for Kathryn Phoenix…It is made of the recycled metal of an industrial garbage can lid, as the base to a cement and acrylic sculpture-painting.

Here is where I try to explain how I have been over zealous with the photos this semester, and apparently have reached the limit of the blog, and therefore cannot show you the pictures in the normal way. BUT luckily google-drive exists, so here is the link to the public folder with all the photos, just not as nicely captioned and interspersed with the text…

Rodolfo's class was the usual goofy affair for the first hour (please see Tyler wearing Michelle's hat, and Michelle's goofy evaluation about Yasuní) We then rested a little after and Minori, Veronica, and Sarah and I met Rodolfo, Daysi (international programs director) and her cousin in the fancy schmancy salsa club they invited us to. We were by far the youngest ones in the place (college students can't always afford to pay a $10 entrance fee-hence Earlham did in our case-its a cultural experience, right?) I drank my $5 in a michelada (I had never heard of it, but Sarah tells me its a thing in New Mexico: beer with lime juice and salsa, with salt on the rim-think margarita-) it was pretty good: lots of flavors! (the menu cracked me up, which is the next picture) In the process of drinking my cheesy hot chocolate, which I ordered next, I was asked to dance by a man of at least 60. This was not as odd as you might think: salsa dancing is actually quite fun if you can relax and sufficiently ignore the fact that you don't actually have any idea what you are doing, and let the male who is actually supposed to be leading, do that. I was then asked (twice, which I really can't understand, since I clearly was no match for the practiced expert that he was…) by another guy. This was actually slightly more uncomfortable, despite the smaller age gap of only about 10 years, because he kept insisting I look at him. thus, in addition to a couple fancy spins, I learned that: prolonged eye contact with total strangers is not my forte…We all dance with Rodolfo as well-not something you do with most of your professors perhaps, but when in Ecuador…

Somehow we still had enough energy at 1 am to find another club (Sarah's motivation to dance really is a force of nature sometimes…) so she and I went with Minori to the same club we had gone to towards the beginning of the program. Similarly to that time, it took five minutes tops for our trio of girls to be divided up by a group of eager men. Unlike last time however, this group of guys just wanted to dance, and we chatted, without any unwanted kissing attempts (whew!) We passed a couple of hours improving out bachata steps, and eventually tumbled into a taxi and home to bed sometime around 3.

After that late night, the only logical thing to do the next morning was to wake up before 9 to go climb a mountain.

The first thing on my famous bucket list was "climb Pichincha" which is the volcano/mountain for which this province is named. Ximena and I prepared, and eventually managed to successfully contact Sarah and Tyler to join us on our adventure. Gustavo kindly dropped us all off at el teleferico (cable car) which we happily rode up. After a few obligatory pictures with the view (sorry they aren't here is-the link again) we then began the fairly arduous hike up the mountain.

I think it ended up being a good thing that I was never quite sure where we were going until we actually got to the top, and every little rise had a way of making it seem like we were perpetually almost there, which was an encouraging illusion. We passed some interesting flora-prickly orange shrubs, purple lupine (reminiscent of m y childhood book Mrs. Rumphias) and carpets of prickly green plants that coated the sometimes vertical sides of the trail. We took frequent breaks to eat the fruit and tostado that we had brought to sustain our journey, and to shove our cheeks (chipmunk style) with panela (the unrefined sugar) as we soldiered on upwards. Right as we were about to reach the top, which did actually involve more climbing and scrambling than hiking, the wind picked up significantly, and we found ourselves in a thick cloud, quickly realizing that our extremities were going numb. It made us feel sufficiently extreme and hardcore, before it passed just as we reached the actual top of the mountain!

I realized I had never actually been ALL the way to the top of a MOUNTAIN before. I have been to the top of bluffs, and partway up mountains, but there truly is something so stereotypically majestic and awe-inspiring about a mountaintop. We made repeated vain attempts to capture the breadth and expanse of the view (and ourselves there-I am grinning over enthusiastically in one of the photos to ask if I had tostado in my teeth, by way of explanation) with our entirely inadequate cameras, then, taking one last breath of mountain-top-ness, we began the descent.

Surprise surprise, it went much faster than the going up part. The highlights being the sand -that-worked-like-an-escalator, such that you actually went about 4 steps down with every move (Sarah decided this wasn't quite fast enough, and went for the spread-eagle tumble approach…as you can see in the photos) the other highly comical moment was when Tyler and Ximena were galloping down the path at such an alarmingly accelerating speed that they almost collided and went flying, both of their backpacks bouncing wildly, as they wove past each other, careening down the mountain. Maybe its a 'had to be there' kinda moment, but I really did have to stop walking and focus on breathing, cuz I was laughing so hard…

We arrived at the bottom thoroughly exhausted, with trembling legs and a strong urge to sleep immediately, but with a sense of accomplishment about the whole thing. We took an overpriced private bus down the mountain, because we were tired of waiting for the public bus, and classically, just as we paid our dollar each, 25¢ bus pulled up…ah well. It is an interesting change in perspective though, because in the US, you pretty much can't buy anything except 3 gumballs with 75¢, and therefore I would not probably have cared much at all. Whereas here 75¢ is three bus rides, or at least 2 pastries…Speaking of pastries, we realized we were quite hungry, having eaten only snacks since breakfast, and having also, consequently, climbed a mountain since then. Ximena went home, and the tree of us went in search of food, barely managing to eat and get home before collapsing, even Sarah having agreed to cancel the previous plans to go out dancing that night.

Sunday then, was a much deserved day of rest, homework and rain, that always seems to justify not getting out of your pajamas. I did my best to get most of my homework done, to prepare for the Cuenca trip the following weekend. Having done what I deemed to be a sufficient amount, Sarah and I indulged in a lovely movie/knitting night accompanied by Harry Potter and the Scorer's Stone.