Since arriving back in Quito mid-March, life has been full of ups and downs. My biggest upset was definitely Brent returning to the States. Having him here for six weeks was a blast and I really got used to having a companion for all my adventures. In his last few days in Quito we returned to the Guayasamin museum for some prints (he bought El Guitarrista – guitarist, and I bought La Ternura – tenderness). We also had a final date night at the upscale Zazu. Our favorite part of the dinner was the copious free bread and herb butter and how the Spanish and English menus had completely different plates listed. The ambiance was very chic yet relaxed and the waiters extremely friendly.
A couple of weeks after Brent left I moved into my new apartment which is the epitome of luxury. For $100 more per month, I have a gym, a rooftop barbecue/lounge area, a functioning showerhead and hot water, Maria the cleaner who comes twice a week (rather excessive, I know, not my decision) and two healthy, eco-conscious, actively-minded roommates. Renata and Demian both work in film production and are currently “on location” in the jungle somewhere for two months, leaving me in charge of the fish. This is a quite daunting task for me (I think I had a goldfish for three days as a kid before I accidentally killed it) and I’ve already forgot to feed them two days in a row. My coworker suggested that I take a picture of them in case they die and I need to go to the pet store to replace them, so thoughtful. Shortly after moving into my new seventh floor apartment, I had a birthday barbecue celebration on the roof. In attendance were some coworkers, a former student, and Hagar and Noam from our Machu Picchu trekking group. They just happened to be passing through Quito that week, good timing!
The following week, Amanda, Victor and Ben (also from the MP group) were also passing through Quito and we met for some meals and exploration. Amanda and Victor (visit their blog here, its much more exciting than mine and so is their photography: http://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/37096669/) went to the Good Friday processional in the centro histórico in Quito and were shocked by the demonstration of Christ’s sacrifice: people wrapped in barbed wire, nailed to crosses, rubbing stinging nettles all over their bodies, walking barefoot on the hot pavement, and whipping themselves. Sounds a bit over the top to me but we are in Latin America, after all.
While I was in Peru, my coworker’s wife Soo had their baby Saam (not pronounced Sam) and I recently went to their house to meet the little guy and have an April birthday celebration with our other coworker Gary. I immediately bonded with Saam over his love of sleep – he especially loves to sleep in a sort of skydiving position. To Soo and Zubin, Gary and I are apparently their “outdoorsy friends” so they bought us Buff head wraps for our birthdays. For his one month birthday, lucky Saam received a “born to be wild” t-shirt with wild animals printed on from me and a furry stuffed animal from Gary. It will be an interesting experience for Saam to grow up in Ecuador with Iranian parents and I’m excited to watch the integration.
A few weeks back my coworker Rizwana returned home to South Africa, but not before she was invited to a traditional Ecuadorean dance and dragged me along. I will say that the costumes were very detailed and the live music entertaining, but I’m not sure about my thoughts on the piece overall. The dancing and movements were very interpretive.
My latest failure (or “down” in the list of ups and downs) came in the form of cornbread muffins for a Derby party. In need of flour and baking powder, I decided to buy the flour with added baking powder, thinking I would kill two birds with one stone, right? Wrong wrong wrong. The muffins barely rose and resembled squishy hockey pucks. Not wanting to arrive empty handed, I brought them to the Derby party and people ate a lot of them! It must have been drunk munchies after too many Mint Juleps. Let’s address a few things from this last statement. Number one: why was there a Derby party in Quito? Well, my friend Lauren who works at Colegio Americano is from Kentucky and last year when she did nothing for the derby she said it felt like not celebrating Christmas, so she rounded up the troops and made us put on fancy hats and drink bourbon. Number two: where did the bourbon come from? Yes, Quito is lacking in specialty alcohol and what we do have is ridiculously priced, so Lauren strategically imported it with friends who were traveling back and forth from the U.S. (apparently you can import two bottles free of charge). Needless to say, my horses did not win but I think I won when I met some teachers from Academia Cotopaxi who brew their own beer. Lucky me, when the bourbon ran out I did not switch to Pilsener but rather homebrewed IPA and cider!
Well, all of the fun has to be supported somehow and currently I’m working about 50 hours a week plus lesson planning, grading, etc. Yuck! However, that will balance out by yet another vacation, this time to Argentina and Chile at the end of May and beginning of June. Until then, I’m hoping that these daily torrential downpours will soon fade. I hear that the dry season is supposed to start soon although not sure how different it will be since we’re on the equator. Either way, the last eight months without winter has been more than pleasant for me.