Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crossing the street here is like Frogger. I'm completely serious - if its a four-lane highway, people just cross one lane at a time and wait in between them for the cars to slow down. Its insane. And there is no such thing as the little green or red man telling you when to cross, you just kind of have to guess. Always an adventure here. Also, cab drivers are completely crazy. A bunch of us went to an area called el Mariscol (los Ecuatorianos call it Gringolandia) and we counted how many red lights our taxi driver ran through on the way home - 9. Granted there was no one out and he only charged us about $3.50, but still. Also drivers here honk constantly - at every intersection and at all pedestrians, which I guess is their attempt to make up for the lack of crosswalks.

Here is picture of part of the view from CIMAS. It wasn't very sunny when I took it so I bumped up the contrast so you can kind of see the buildings (and Dad you would be proud I made it a panorama!). I think they built the foundation on land that was once a recreation area, and they kept one of the soccer fields and one of the basketball courts which are fun to run around on during our breaks.

These are my host brothers, Diego y Andres (I told them they had to let me take a picture so that I could show my hermanita back in seattle mis nuevos hermanos!). They are so hilarious, and really helpful with my Spanish. They call me their hermanita or Emilita, and they're really interesting to talk to about how they feel about foreign policy, the current political situation in Ecuador, etc. We also had a long conversation about good chocolate the other day, and when I came home that afternoon from school there was a huge bar of dark chocolate wrapped on my bed that they had bought for me! As I speak they are playing guitar hero with a couple of friends and they convinced me to play too (for the first time ever). They are playing to Beatles songs - "We all Live in a Yellow Submarine" sounds so much funnier with Ecuatorian accents.

There is an incredible fruit stand across the street from CIMAS, and they sell these giant green pod (think a HUGE green bean), with these big black seeds inside convered in white squishy stuff which is the part that you eat. They're called Guavas here, which was really confusing because they are nothing like what we call guavas (which are called Guayaba here).

We have already had the opportunity to listen to some of the most amazing speakers. Yesterday a famous periodista Ecuatoriano came in and gave us an amazing summary of Ecuadorian history. Today a man came in to discuss the differences between indigenous and western culture, and the lasting impacts of colonialism and early European hegemony. He talked about why the western world has come to have such fixed ideas about the linear passing of time, something that in reality is completely relative. In indigenous culture (and kind of in Latin America in general) time is considered to be circular. He also talked about how North and South came to be so fixed, even though in reality one could orient themselves any way they liked, north doesn't really mean "up" in the way it has come to. He also talked about the significance of Peyote, which is considered a medecine for purifying your body in indigenous culture, and told us about one of the times he took it and what it was like participating in an indigenous ceremony. Very interesting.

The weather has been so much nicer than I expected - it was really hot and sunny again today! Luckily I haven't burnt yet but almost everyone else has (I've been really careful about sunscreen) because the sun on the equator is so so strong.

Whitney and I have discovered the most amazing donut place! Mama, they taste just like the ones we get in Italy! They're delicious. A bunch of us also discovered an amazing empanada place last night right near where we all live. Also a friend and I have found a great salsa studio - we're going to try to start classes soon. His family is Guatemalan so he kind of grew up with salsa, but we want to get really good so we can go to some of the intense cuban salsa clubs and not look like complete idiots :)

We have a city tour Friday, then a bunch of us are going to go to Banos for the weekend!

Espero que tengan buen dia! x

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