Today’s breakfast was bread with ham, and papaya. I still cannot get over the quality of the fruit here… I didn’t think I liked papaya, but it’s so much better here and I don’t know how I ever disliked it! I caught up on my honor’s journaling today. Remember that giant project deal I had to do for my University/Honors Experience? It’s not over. I have to journal/reflect on the 15 questions that I wrote, and then produce my project when I return to the States. It’s not exactly how I want to be spending my time, but it’s not an unbearable inconvenience, either.
We three students from the house met up with Jason in Parque El Ejido. Unfortunately, his family still wasn’t here, so we got to hang out with him for one more day. This park has amazing artwork on the weekends; we plan to come back tomorrow to spend more time looking. The plan was to go to Parque Carolina again to go through the botanical garden, so we started walking north towards the park. A lot of the restaurants weren’t open, but we decided on a Cuban restaurant in the Mariscal district. On tripadvisor, it’s called Don David, but the sign outside had a longer name, International something. We were the only people in there, and the waiter was very nice. He spoke English, which was also a welcome break, as restaurants can be difficult sometimes. The pineapple juice was awesome, and the food was good, too. I got (smoked?) pork, with sauteed veggies, yucca, and fried banana, which were all good.
The park is actually a pretty far walk when you factor in hills and street crossings, 2.7 miles, according to Google. Rob had other stuff to do, the rest of us walked through the botanical garden. What a neat place, I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Quito. It didn’t set off my allergies, and they have all sorts of beautiful flowers and neat plants. They have it set up as different ecosystems. Additionally, there was a room of the carnivorous plants, the orchids (for which Ecuador is famous), and a temporary butterfly exhibit, which was my favorite part.
After some more wandering and buying ice cream from one of the many vendors, we took the bus back to our houses. I got to meet my new neighbor for the next 3 weeks, Bella from the Philippines! Then we had dinner: it was chicken nugget night!! We had more grain soup, and rice with a tomato slice. I think we all approved of this meal, especially the nuggets and the blackberry juice for dessert!
Bella and I discovered that, since our showers got fixed, we can’t shower at the same time. I believe that they increased the water pressure, therefore drawing more power into each room. The power goes out on the floor, and it happened twice, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a fluke. I also found out tonight that someone else will be staying in my room while I’m away this week, so I have to pack all of my stuff up. It’s not a huge inconvenience, but I’m slightly nervous to share the room for one night when I return, since I won’t know her.
Breakfast was the usual, and then three of us, minus our new housemate, went back to Parque El Ejido to look at the art more. We also ran into Jason, and his family!! They finally arrived the night before, so we got to meet his wife and kids. After properly viewing all of the art, I decided to return to this park later in my trip. There is a big market about 2 hours north of Quito where I plan to buy most of my gifts/souvenirs, but if I don’t find something for someone there, this park will be my next stop. We decided to try vendor food for lunch, so we bought kebabs. Mine was (all grilled) sausage, potatoes, beef, and banana. It was very good, but I threw away the beef because it wasn’t cooked all the way through. For dessert, we bought fresh fruit, which was to die for. The watermelon here is so incredibly sweet.
Afterwards, I got to meet Paula from Colorado, who is getting my room while I’m away. She seems very nice, but worn out after navigating the same airport problems as Jason’s family. I feel very lucky to have had such a simple flying experience. Fred, Paula, and I went to the vegetarian place by school so that Paula could eat. The apple tarts are amazing!! **For future travelers: It’s called Govinda, and it’s on Esmeraldas Street, close to school. Walk towards Plaza Teatro and take a right on Esmeraldas, it’s on the left side.
Being the exciting adult that I am, I took a nap while Paula did (so as not to disturb her, of course), then we went to dinner. The lentil soup was a pleasant change, and then we had pasta with tomato sauce. It was very thin; I think the noodles were cooked in the sauce. The other students thought that it was very plain, but I loved it.
Tonight was the night to leave for my trip, so I help back on juice/water so that I didn’t need a bathroom while stuck on a bus. The family insisted that I leave at 9:30 to meet my professor at the south bus station (Quitumbe) at 11:00pm. The other students walked me down to get money from the ATM and catch a taxi, and I was at the bus station by 10:00pm easily. Nobody gave me any trouble or anything while waiting, and when my professor, Gisela, arrived, she bought our bus tickets and away we went! The buses are very nice charter coaches, just like in the US, except most in the US have bathrooms. We slept until about 4:30, when we arrived in Esmeraldas (the town Esmeraldas, in the province of Esmeraldas).