My second blog post in three days! Each day is packed with so many new things that it feels like a week has gone by.
Last night, me and my two roommates, Lauren and Rebecca, went to an area of Quito called La Ronda for dinner. While there, we stopped at the Plaza de San Francisco. Words can’t describe how beautiful it was. The picture is blurry and doesn’t do it justice, but it’s too cool not to show.
While there, we realized everyone was interested in getting as much money out of us “gringas” as possible. Taxi rides that should have been $2 were given to us no cheaper than $6. Even if we explained we knew that was too expensive, we could never bargain cheaper than $5. If we argued, our ride would drive off. While eating dinner, we listened to amazing live music (with a $6 cover charge I may add. I highly doubt the locals were paying that, but it was worth it.). During dinner I had my first epenada…AMAZING. Something less amazing that I also tried was cow liver. I know now that it would have been extremely difficult to be a vegetarian in this country, because all their meals are surrounded by meat and grains. However, it’s definitely difficult to have meat at least twice a day. I’ve learned to not ask what meat I’m eating, or what part of the animal it comes from, and everything works out just fine. I applaud them for using every bit of the animal and not letting any go to waste.
Today was my first day of Spanish classes. 7 hours! I forgot my sunglasses this morning and on the fifteen minute walk to class my eyes got sunburnt! So all day my eyes have been burning like crazy. I should have realized it could happen that fast, Ecuador is 2 miles closer to the sun than Oregon.
On our break we stopped at a market for lunch. Here, we got to try traditional “almuerzos.” For $2.25 you got a glass of freshly made juice (today’s was cantaloupe), a large bowl of soup, then a plate filled with rice, your choice of meat, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and some sort of homemade pickle. The soup I like the most so far has a cheese broth with homemade noodles, potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and cilantro. They also bring out homemade hot sauce you can add to the soup-so good! I decided I wasn’t ready to try the cow’s feet soup just yet.
When we walked into the tightly filled market and it’s food court, one of the waitresses kicked out some locals from a table so our big group could fit. I’m guessing they assumed we would be spending a lot of money, but either way this didn’t make us the most popular group sitting down for lunch. I felt really bad once I realized what had happened.
While we were eating, a little boy no more than 7 years old came up and begged for food. Before we could react, our Spanish teacher shooed him away. Although we had plenty of food to offer, we have been told not to give away food or money. According to our mentors, the minute you give out food or money, you are never left alone by all those in need. Still, I’m almost wondering if it’s worth it. I think the most difficult thing this far in the trip was denying a child food. It feels criminal. I wish I had ran into him again so I could sneak him some. However, someone DID benefit from our left overs. As we were finishing, an older homeless man snuck up beside us and grabbed what was left of our chicken. He was incredibly gentle about it and had a kind smile on his face. I felt relieved that our food wasn’t going to go to waste when so many people go hungry in this country.
The market had the most amazing produce. We plan on going back tomorrow because eating out twice a day, everyday, is already getting old. Around the market there were little shops that were hidden in what looked like small garages. Here you could find handmade goods, cheaper alcohol (although it’s still more expensive than in the US), bouquets of flowers, and even freshly made slabs of chocolate! (Also chicken’s feet if you’re into that)
That’s the chocolate people! $2 for a piece twice the size of your head! and off to the right is homemade peanut butter.
My Spanish teacher insisted on ending class 20 minutes early to teach us some salsa moves for my birthday. He told us to go home and practice and to plan on going to a salsa dance club this Wednesday to celebrate. I can’t wait!
As far as celebrating tonight, we’re having our first homemade dinner with our house mother. Then we’re probably going out for dessert epenadas (I’ll post a picture) and my first legal drink! Although, it will likely be just one because wine is like $5-$7 a glass. (which will probably be more than enough in this altitude). In comparison, that $7 drink could get me 28 trolle rides, 3 lunches, or a hand painted piece of pottery. However, beer can be bought for about $0.85 a bottle here, but I haven’t heard great things about those. At some point I’ll have to try it though.
Well that’s all for now 🙂 Thank you everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes. I’m very lucky to have such loving and supporting friends, family, mentors, and coworkers in my life 🙂 <3