I’ve been in a lot of cities in the US, Europe, and elsewhere, where I avoid sitting in parks because I just don’t feel comfortable. I don’t like being approached by vendors, beggars, charities, missionaries or shoeshiners. When I sit in a park, I really just want to relax and watch all the people. Continue reading
Just in time for Easter, this post has a little religion and a little science all in one! Not that I ever mix the two, but sometimes it’s interesting when they stand side by side.
Last Thursday I took my first pilgrimage up the mountain with colleagues to check out one of the weather stations. We drove about 30 minutes up toward Cajas National Park, west of Cuenca. I was excited to get out in the countryside, having been cooped up from all the rain these past couple of weeks.
I’m not a coffee drinker. But I will purchase a cup of good coffee now and then – especially if it means I can sit at Puro Cafe, on the terrace of Iglesia Todo Santos, and watch the rain showers pass by. I discovered this place about a month ago, on my first big walk through town. The terrace at Todo Santos is one of the best views above of the river Tomebamba. The Tomebamba divides the old, central part of Cuenca, which sits up on a hill, from the newer, modern part of Cuenca, sitting below, in a valley. Continue reading
Or, rather, the title of this post should be: Taxis, Buses, and Pounding the Pavement
As the sightseeing tapers off a bit while I get ramped up for my class and try to get some projects underway, I’m becoming more adept at making my way around the city and thought I would share a little of my daily life. In Colorado I commute to work via a Prius, listening to my favorite tunes, a new novel, or practicing my Spanish along the way. Here, I breathe diesel fumes and hang on for dear life to a bar above my head while we trundle over cobblestone streets and careen through traffic circles or over speed bumps.
The past two weeks have been about trying to settle in, finding a routine, and feeling comfortable living in a city. To that end, I spent last weekend playing tourist. It’s a strange thing to go from pure cultural immersion, to taking the double-decker bus along with a group of other North Americans past my jogging path by the river. It’s like I’m moving between worlds. The world of tourist, and the world of inhabitant.
Mid-February – and I found myself in the midst of a sunny 4-day holiday weekend getting doused by little kids with water guns while walking on a river path and sprayed with foam by an 88-year-old lady on the porch of her home. Yes, this is Carnaval in Ecuador. A national holiday devoted to tossing water, eggs, flour at people, or spraying them with foam, a time for people to act out all their devilish thoughts in anticipation of Lent. This is the Ecuadorian version of Mardi Gras.
(Caution: Vegetarians may want to skip this post!) Where can you buy tomatoes, papayas, onions, a new pair of sneakers, a can of spray foam for Carnaval, and a live chicken all in one go? That would be Cuenca’s largest local marketplace, Feria Libre!
I’m such a science nerd. Yesterday I signed on for a full-day tour from Quito, north, to the town of Otavalo. Otavalo has one of South America’s most famous indigenous craft markets (if not THE most famous) – and Saturday is the big day, when the market takes over the entire town. But what was it that interested me most on this tour? Of course – the stop in the Middle of the World (Mitad del Mundo) – The Equator!! A promised glimpse over the rim of the volcano Cuicocha into a crater lake was also a big draw. (Note: This blog post has bonus homework questions and mini-contest for Meteorology students!)
Happy day: After an hour-long wait, I got my passport back from the immigration office (not sure why it was necessary to hang on to it…but that’s just how it goes for everyone) and then I hopped on the Quito Tour Bus. Yes, it’s as cheesy as it sounds. But in the end, it helped me discover my favorite place in the city.
I’ve spent my first three days in Quito mainly going from one appointment to the next, learning to negotiate taxis and buses, trying to figure out where to eat, or resting my aching feet. But I’ve also gathered a few random insights I thought I’d share here – like how to cross the street, how to get a big meal, and how much fun it is to sit around and chat with people (sorry, still no touristy photos – just a foodie photo!)