This has by far been my most relaxed week in Quito. In fact, so relaxed, it has made me a little stir-crazy. We have been non-stop going almost every second since we’ve been here, so having time to sleep in and even finish a book I’m ready felt strange.
Wednesday, we ate cuy: Ecuador’s fanciest dish and also known as Guinea Pig in the United States. No, it was not good. I even sort of had high expectations for it. At this point I have tried guinea pig, goat, cow’s blood, cow intestine, cow stomach lining, and pig skin. I don’t think I’ll ever eat any of those again, but I did it and I didn’t die either.
Thursday evening the girls and I went out to a Salsa club that is known for having a clientele of professional dancers and choreographers. I’ve never seen such beautiful dancing in my life. That includes anything I’ve watched on TV or youtube. These people looked like they had practiced dancing together for years, but the majority of them had never even danced together before. If you want to see some real talent, might as well buy a plane ticket to Ecuador right now. After a while us girls were asked to dance, and thankfully the people asking us knew what they were getting themselves into. But that didn’t even matter, our dance partners were SO good that we were doing moves we had never learned before, all from how easy it was to follow them (and if you couldn’t follow them, well they would just move you themselves and somehow make it look natural). It was by far one of the funnest nights out I have had here, and even though these were the best dancers I’ve ever tried to salsa with, they made me feel the most comfortable. YAY.
On Friday we took a cable car (called the Teleferiqo) up one of Quito’s highest points, to 13,000 feet altitude. Here, you’re supposed to be able to see out over Quito from dangling in the air. However, just our luck, a thunder and lightning storm hit just as we were about at the highest peak, but not close enough to get out of the cable car. We panicked as the cable stopped the cart we were sitting in, and waited for a good ten minutes, watching the storm around us while dangling in the air. Finally, we were taken to the top and got out, where we spent over an hour in a cafe watching the lightning. It wasn’t how we envisioned the outing, but it was pretty cool getting to see it from a warm chair with hot chocolate and chifles (plantain chips). You could even pay to have some flavored oxygen.
I didn’t have a camera at the time, and I probably wouldn’t have thought to use it while suspended 13000 feet up during a storm, so here is a google image of what the teleferiqo looks like on a sunny day (also here is the link so I don’t get sued: http://www.deanmyerson.org/files/photo%20archive/foreign/ecuador/146%20teleferico%20above%20Quito.jpg) :
Friday was also my three year anniversary with Christopher, so I got to spend my evening as perfectly as possible while in separate continents: skype date!
Saturday started out fantastic. The girls and I went out to breakfast, then Ejido Park, where we got to stroll around and look at stands of Ecuadorian hand crafts. Here I bought the final two of my three oil paintings I will be bringing home with me, and am very in love with all of them:
Then I was able to buy a decent amount of gifts all at the same craft stand, and I dropped enough money that the man I was buying them from was shaking and thanking god as I handed him the well-deserved money. It feels really good to see how something as simple as buying someone’s handmade work can make an impact. It was a mutually benefiting transaction, and we both left extremely happy campers.
Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last on the way home. My dear friend Lauren got her wallet stolen on the trole. This was frustrating for multiple reasons, but one of which was that we did everything we were supposed to in order to not become targets. We stayed close to each other, we had our bags in front of us, at least one hand on the bag, AND kept an eye out. Sadly, the bus was packed and a lady snuck up behind Lauren and was able to cut her wallet out of her bag with a knife. Even more aggravating, sweet little Lauren felt someone touching her bag and was was worried she might offend them by acting as if she was worried they were robbing her, so she just moved her purse to the other side of her body, where they couldn’t reach. But it was too late. I realized a lady next to us, who had JUST gotten on the bus at the same time as us, was getting off at the next stop and making a run for it. Then Lauren saw her slashed bag. We had been targeted even before we stepped on the trole (which hadn’t been more than a minute, if that).
Here’s the good news: at that point in the day we were all very broke, and had chosen not to go to the ATM that far away from the house. So the lady only made off with $10 and a debit card, which Lauren immediately canceled. And we think since Lauren moved her bag, the lady knew she was about to get caught, and didn’t bother trying to steal the camera that was also in her bag — thank goodness. Also, lets not forget she had a knife. Thank goodness it was only used for a dang purse. This was also a lesson-learned. We can’t get comfortable and lazy even though it’s been 7 weeks. Even if you follow all the rules in the book, if someone wants to take advantage of you, they will find a way to do it. Especially if they’re desperate. We just have to hope that $10 was put to good use.Which is a reason this blog post is lacking in pictures after Saturday: I have yet to bring a photo-taking device out of the house with me since this incident.
Sunday we went to Papallacta hot springs, 2 hours north of Quito. We ended up taking a taxi to the wrong bus station, over an hour and a half away from the station we were supposed to go to, so we splurged and paid a taxi to just take us all the way to the springs — that way we didn’t waste an extra two hours. At this point in the weekend, I think we were all needing a little TLC. At Papallacta they have 7 pools filled with natural mineral water, 6 of them with varying temperatures of heat, one of them ice cold. We spent a good four hours hopping from hot water to hot water, enjoying the mountains and river in the distance, and basking in the ability to actually have water warm enough to bite your skin again. We would have likely stayed a couple more hours if it weren’t for the thunder and lighting that hit. Sitting in a hot pool with cold rain feels amazing, but not amazing enough to risk being electrocuted. Here is a google picture of Papallacta, since our belongings were religiously locked up the entire day (http://loveecuadorliving.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/03/1.1273165345.hot-springs.jpg):
This week I went back to the dermatology clinic, and had a wonderful time. The more I stay there, the more I am interested in this specialty. It’s also nice to see the differences in practice when it comes to addressing the patient and prescribing medication. The doctor I am shadowing is very stern about the concept that the patient is more than a medical problem in need of a diagnoses. He encourages small talk, wants us to know their full name, where they grew up, if they have children, etc. He lectures about small talk being one of the most important parts of the consultation, because it could give you necessary incite on the problem their facing that you might otherwise miss if you’re solely concerned about the symptoms. Dermatology is also a business where you potentially have to deliver bad news, and no one wants to receive bad news from a stranger. I love and appreciate his perspective. He also is very interested in making sure I understand what is going on 100% of the time, which I appreciate, because I’m sure it would be much easier to be bitter that someone came to a country to learn without even knowing the language fluently.
It’s hard to not feel like you’re a burden when you can’t fully understand someone, or express exactly what you want to say. I am so grateful for the kindness Ecuadorians have shown me in this department, and it hurts my heart to think that students in my same position in the United States are much less likely to receive the understanding that I have been given. I hope one day my country can be more accepting of cultures or customs outside of our own personal practices, and be compassionate towards people struggling to make ends meet in a place that is so foreign. I can’t imagine the difficulties someone would face in the US if they just moved there, are trying to work or go to school, AND all of a sudden be expected to be fluent in another language. Sheesh.
Working in the clinic has been a blast, and I can’t wait for the next few weeks of experiences, but I can’t help but miss my job back home. I have loved being a CNA more than I ever imagined, and already two months away from my residents and Valley West has made me excited to return to them. It’s difficult going to school in a town an hour and a half away from your favorite job. Hopefully the things I learned at clinicals here will improve my work back in Eugene. Or at the very least provide me with some entertaining stories to share.
Yesterday we went to my favorite restaurant: Crepes & Waffles. (pronounced Cray-pays-eee-wah-flays). Lauren and I make a solid effort to drag Rebeccah here at least twice a week. Who knew the reason I’d go broke in South America was because of all the gourmet ice cream I shove down my face?
Tonight I am headed out to dinner, and then to a Musical! I have no idea what it’s about, but we’re going with some girls we met at the beach who live here in Quito, and I’m sure it will be a fantastic experience.
Thursday we are going to a futbol game here in Quito: Ecuador against Uruguay. This is a BIG DEAL because both teams are in the running for the World Cup. We are painting our faces and going with our Spanish teachers as security guards, because apparently the crowds can get PRETTY wild. I don’t know what would be worse for my safety: if we win or lose.
I have learned that I am incredibly bad at “besos.” Which is when you greet or say goodbye to someone in Ecuador, and you lean in, put your cheeks against each other, and kiss the air. Almost like kissing each other’s cheeks at the same time, but not quite as intimate. One would think that I would have mastered this by week 7, but here I am, never failing at making the situation awkward. I am either excited I remembered, and seem very eager to kiss this new person. Or I don’t remember, and people lean in as I’m walking away. Or someone catches me off guard, and it doesn’t register that this person leaning close to my face is not in fact trying to kiss me on the mouth. In that situation, which has happened multiple times, I do the classic “duck and retreat” followed by a look like “whoa I just met you and you’re like 30. What do you think is going on here?” Hopefully the fact that I’m whiter than their lab coats is explanation enough for my ridiculous behavior.
With my free time this week I finished up the book “My Year With Eleanor” and started Amy Poehler’s book “Yes Please.” Both were incredibly thought provoking and literally laugh-out-loud funny. If anyone is looking for a feel good book to read, I recommend both. (Especially Yes Please if you like very blunt honesty in a hilariously vulgar way).
We have yet to come up with some plans for this weekend, but we BEST be doing something because time seems to be running out! I will officially be home in one month, all ready to start celebrating the holidays. Woop Woop.
Alright, I’ll be in touch soon! Hopefully with more news to share and pictures to post! Chao.