While walking to school alone isn’t always exciting, minus that one time that some guy followed me, I finish breakfast early and have a little extra time. I usually buy a yogurt and coffee, but today I used that time to go to the store.
I have one other classmate for the week, a teacher from the USA. We had a bit of class before I talked our professor into taking us to the changing of the guards at the President’s Palace. It’s every week, on Monday at 11am, so I never get to go. He agreed to take us, though. I usually don’t like overly-ceremonial events, but this was awesome. This event is free, and purely ceremonial; it is only for the benefit of the viewers. The ceremonial band was there, they had several groups of ceremonial guards, and several un-ceremonial guards to guard the president. There were also important government employees, the president, and one government official from Cuba, I believe. The band and the guards on horses were my favorite part, obviously, but the really interesting part was how exposed the president was. He was just standing on the balcony next to the other important people, and I only saw 3 obvious guards. At home, we wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near President Obama, or any president of ours, there’d be swarms of security and snipers and bodyguards. One possible explanation for this is that the majority of the population here really likes the president. Especially in comparison with basically every other president they’ve had, President Correa has done a good job and won over most of the people. So he does have that going for him. Side note: I confirmed this with my professor; I’m not just assuming and trying to speak for the citizens of Ecuador. President Correa has a very high approval rating.
After we finished up our classes, I decided to take the bus (gasp) to the Mariscal district for lunch to find some variety. With some assistance in locating the correct bus, I successfully took the bus alone. I also have no intentions of doing it again because I don’t like it. I decided to eat at The Magic Bean in Plaza Foch. 1) It’s quiet and safe, and not horrendously expensive, especially in Mariscal. 2) Free Wi-Fi. 3) The food is awesome. I bought a strawberry milkshake and a Hawaiian sandwich, and I was very pleased. We don’t get milk at the house, so the milkshake hit the spot. Grilled pineapple and avocado are two of my favorite things, as well, so my sandwich was just about right, as well.
After lunch, I walked down to Museo Mindalae, an artisanal museum, I believe. I think I would have liked it a lot more, but it was very dark. As a young, single, female traveler, I try to avoid putting myself in small, dark spaces when I’m alone, so I was uncomfortable in this museum. I later found out that it’s normally not that dark, and I probably didn’t set off all of the motion-sensored lights. There’s lots of history and culture to be learned here. I recommend starting at the top floor and working your way down, you can exit through the gift shop on the last floor.
On my walk back to the house, I decided to stop at the museum across the street from Parque El Ejido, but it is 100% closed for an entire year for remodeling… So I came back to the house and talked on the phone with my boyfriend. This week was the beginning of homesickness, so the gift that is WhatsApp is a lifesaver. I repeat. Download WhatsApp to your phone before going places.
For dinner, I met Bea and Rob at school and we walked to Pizza SA near Plaza Grande. The host family had recommended it to us for their CUY PIZZA. Guinea pig pizza, folks. And that pizza was delicious. I still am not convinced that cuy in and of itself is worth the price, but I enjoyed it on that pizza.
Last night, for a reason that I still cannot pinpoint, I didn’t sleep. I maybe got 2 hours of sleep, broken up into 10 minute segments. Needless to say, I bought a cafe con leche (my favorite) on my way to school, and made a second during the break.
Despite being very tired, I had a willing companion to do the Teleferico with, so I decided to go anyway, while I had the opportunity. We ate in the shopping mall in Plaza Grande, the menu del dia (typical food). We then took a taxi up to the Teleferico ($8.50) and rode up to the top with a sweet woman from Italy. The views were incredible, and the air was definitely thinner than at the bottom. It was also chilly, colder than I had imagined!! I started feeling sick, so we rode back down with a cool couple who had just finished teaching English in Colombia! We then took a taxi/van thing to Mariscal, and I caught another taxi back to the house.
After a nap, we had sausage, rice and beans and tomato sauce for dinner at the house.
After class today, Marilyn and Jonathan, two other students, and I took a taxi to the bus stop and then took the public bus all the way to Mitad del Mundo, the equator museum/park north of Quito. It takes about an hour to get there, and the bus was PACKED with people: students going home after school, adults going to/from work, there was barely room to stand. When we got off of the bus, we had a typical lunch ($4.50) near the museum, and then walked to the museum. It was somewhat expensive, at $7.50 for full access to the museum. You can also pay $3.50 just to enter and walk around, take pictures, etc… If you didn’t want to go inside anything, this would be a good option. We could have paid the $3.50 and spent longer at the other museum, but we did enjoy this museum. This museum is situated where the equator was originally marked by the French when it was discovered. It is actually a city, technically, and was built to increase tourism in the area.
Afterwards, we walked just down the road to Museo Intinan (the name needs a few accents…), which is where the equator has been calculated to be by GPS. I preferred this museum to the other, it only cost $4 and we were given a complete tour that included activities to demonstrate the effects that the equator has on things such as water flow and balance.
We tried to take a bus back to Quito, but the bus only took us to the bus terminal, so we took another public bus back to our houses. I still, after several weeks, am unable to figure out the bus system here. Thankfully, we asked a very helpful man who told us where we needed to get off the bus.
At the house, we had soup, green beans, broccoli and cauliflower, beets, lettuce, and something similar to potato pancakes (if you have Eastern European heritage, especially Polish, you know what these are) with onion in them. Then we went out to celebrate Bella’s last day. She picked a small restaurant on La Ronda that had an amazing hot chocolate drink called the “Chocopaxi,” a play on the name of a volcano: Cotopaxi. It was sweet hot chocolate with Oreo cookies in it.
Today at school, we shared Bocaditos/Bocadillos, which are snacks typical to Ecuador, particularly Quito. Some examples: empanadas (de queso, de carne, de pollo, de viento), humitas, tamales (somewhat similar to Mexican tamales), pan de yuca.
After class, I ate lunch at a cafe in Plaza Grande that served great empanadas de viento. These are empanadas that puff up when fried, and mine had cheese in the dough, as well. I also met a sweet little street dog with two different colored eyes that sat on my feet and let me pet his head.
I met Jason and his family in Parque El Ejido to walk to dinner later this day. We walked down to the Magic Bean restaurant in La Mariscal district and ate familiar food, including ice cream for dessert.
After class today, I walked up the mountain a few blocks to a cafe (that I found on TripAdvisor… touristy, I know). Leivmotiv Cafe was not only adorable, but the barista/waitress was incredibly friendly and the food was really good. The menu is very limited, as far as food is concerned, but the pernil (ham) sandwich was delicious. I also ordered a hot chocolate with cheese, my first one in Ecuador. I expected the hot chocolate to be sweet, like it is at home, but it was genuine chocolate without sugar. Once I got used to the bitterness, it was really good, especially with the cheese. I took a lemon ice cream to go, and went back to the house to blog and watch Orange is the New Black.
I’d had a headache all day, so I went out and bought Pepsi (life tip: Pepsi works almost as well as my prescription migraine medicine). They sell almost exclusively CocaCola here, so I had to buy a 1.5 liter bottle. I worked on the blog some more and packed for my weekend in Mindo again.
Dinner at the house was soup with noodles, and rice with scrambled eggs. I also talked on the phone with my boyfriend for a while before bed.