Cuenca just celebrated Semana Santa (Holy Week). South America is predominately Catholic, but in general the people in Cuenca are much more religious than other cities. Last week all the cathedrals and chapels stayed open really late and were packed into the night. The streets were lined with vendors selling everything from pork skewers to candy apples.
I still haven’t been bold enough to try the “street meat” here which consists mainly of chicken, beef, or pork kabobs and Ceviche. They smell so delicious but every time I’m about to take the plunge, I think about all the other travelers I’ve met who’ve gotten sick. Not lethally sick, just the average Montezuma’s revenge level of sick. I think my love of Ceviche is starting to win this internal battle though. Wish me luck!
A lot has happened this past week. We finished Spanish school with more than enough left to learn, but conversational nonetheless. On a good day, in a quick conversation, we can even pass ourselves off as fluent. The last time we saw Carlos was a week ago at a concert. He is in a band called “Arsamandi” and they were scheduled to play a few songs honoring traditional Andean music, which was perfect for them because that’s exactly their type of sound. We found him in the crowd an hour before they took the stage. He introduced us to two girls from Washington who had just started Spanish school and finishing up Med school down here. Cuenca is a giant sea of retired ex-pats, so meeting younger people can be a little hard. It was an awesome night, especially to see Carlos perform. (in the video at the bottom, Carlos is the one on the right on the drum) After his performance and after a little too much of what can only be described as Ecuadorian moonshine, we said goodbye and promised to stay in touch.
Monday was my birthday and I woke up to flowers. Then we went out to El Cajas National Park to go hiking. On the bus we met three people, Scott, Kat and Mara. They are all nurses looking for volunteer work somewhere down here. And Scott and Kat were from Sarasota! Somehow we ended up on the same overcrowded bus with people from our hometown who were doing the exact same thing as us, riding out to the Cajas. We spent the next 5 hours hiking with them. The next night Ben took me to the best restuarant in the world, Tiestos, which serves traditional Andean food in a fancy, modern way. We ordered Lomo (beef shoulder) with a cream sauce. It’s by far the best meal I’ve ever had. We tried to convince the chef to open a restaurant in Florida and he actually seemed interested.
This is our last day in Cuenca and we are both really excited to leave. Cuenca’s been such a great home to us but life has seemed a little too settled lately and we are ready to get back on the open road. In the morning we are going to a small town on the coast called Puerto Lopez. We heard the town isn’t much to see but there’s a little island off the coast that’s supposed to have the same plant and animal life as the Galapagos at a much cheaper price. The island is called Isla de Plata or “Poor Man’s Galapagos. We might even see whales on our way out to the island, but we’re a little too early in the year for them. Grace- I think you’ll be here for whale season in Ecuador. Lucky duck!
Our next post will probably be from Puerto Lopez, hopefully filled with sunny beach photos.
- Enjoying cooking and eating healthy in Ecuador knowing that all food is Monsanto GMO free! (http://www.infowars.com/monsanto%E2%80%99s-gmo-corn-causing-weight-gain-disrupt-organs/ ).
- Someone must have a monopoly on the car alarm industry here in Ecuador because throughout the night every night we here the same catchy car alarm jingles.
- I tend to say “Si” in response to people even if I don’t understand what they are saying. I am not sure why I do this, but so far Christina’s Spanish is good enough to keep us from getting into any trouble because of this.
- When people speak loud and emotional in Ecuador it is believed to be passionate and praiseworthy. When people talk like this in the US we usually think it is crazy and unstable. (In general)
- We met some peace corp volunteers that were working in Honduras. The government recently shutdown their peace corps operations in Honduras due to increased violence and sent them home after 2 years of work. They decided to come here and start traveling. Needless to say they had some really interesting stories after their 2 years in the murder capital of the world. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the-murder-capital-of-the-world/2011/12/26/gIQAehQKJP_graphic.html ). Talking to them made me realize we should praise peace corps volunteers more in our country. What they do is more invaluable to the world than any military intervention and at a lesser price.
- In South America, presidents usually increase taxes or make unfavorable rulings right before Holidays. The government does this because, although most people will protest just about anything, they will not waste their holiday to do so and by the time the holiday is over the fire is out.
- Being open-minded, respectful, and generous continue to be important to creating meaningful relationships. While traveling outside the US a few people get to shape the image other countries have of America. It is important to make it a good one.