Sunday, September 21, 2008

September 19

September 19, 2008 4:50pm

Okay, everyone is getting chocolate for Christmas. Specifically, Kallari chocolate. I’m doing my best not to eat all of my $2 Kallari chocolate bar in one sitting. It is tough. I’ve already had three more pieces that I intended to… I will make it to tomorrow before I eat any more. Or at least until after dinner.

Speaking of food, I went down to El Mariscal to a vegetarian restaurant today and splurged. First of all, it was called El Maple, so I figure it must be owned by Canadians. Second, before you turn up your noses as the word vegetarian, remember, I hadn’t had a vegetable in almost a week. So I figured any restaurant where the name of the cuisine was derived from the word vegetable was probably going to be a safe bet. Finally, after a week of consuming minimal protein, a soy burger is just about the tastiest looking thing on a menu—right behind eggplant parmesagna (eggplants=vegetable, tomato sauce=vegetables, oregano=grows in the ground and is green, so it’s close enough to a vegetable, and cheese=comes from a cow, which eats grass, which is a form of vegetation). I do think my stomach has shrunk slightly, though, because I was stuffed with five or so bites left. Of course I made myself finish everything, because I, as I saw it, there was no telling when I would next be able to eat vegetables. Anyway, it looks like tonight is pasta. Again. Oh well. I’ll always have eggplant parmesagna (as in, “We’ll always have Paris”, not as in “I can always eat eggplant”).

6:40 pm (After my Spanish lesson).

Bleh. I chatted with Mom some this morning, and now I can’t remember what I told her and what I wrote here. I guess I could always go back and check and read what I wrote, but I don’t feel like going through the motions of scrolling up. Estoy cansada seems to have become my catchphrase here.

So, other guests here: there are two Americans—a couple in their mid-twenties, one girl from Holland (19), and one girl from Germany (21). I like them and get along with them all.

The problem with scrolling up is that I just saw the word chocolate, which reminded me of the chocolate bar within arm’s reach (and which I had managed to forget about). Ugh. Damn, that is some good chocolate. Okay, going to forget about it again. Just as soon as I have one more teeny, tiny piece.

Ah, I remember. Mom was asking me about the people who live here. Well, there is my host mom, L., her 14-year-old daughter, M, and her two-year-old nephew, also known as the brat I would dearly love to throw out of a window. Hmm, I probably shouldn’t post that on the internet for everyone to read, should I? Disclaimer: I have a slight tendency to exaggerate—just ask my grandmother about the clothes I suggested she burn. In this case, I’m not exaggerating the nature of the child, only my desired response. Okay, technically I’m not exaggerating that either. But I would never do it. Never ever. I wouldn’t even discipline the child (even though he smacked my ass earlier today). But that is just because I figure he is a lost cause.

There are also various family members who come and go. The other guests and I are constantly asking each other who people are (and hypothesizing about possible familial relationships). In general, I really like the atmosphere in the house—it feels very comfortable. I wish I were able to speak more Spanish… but that is coming along. I’m currently taking Spanish lessons from L’s nephew, who is a Spanish teacher. An hour/hour and a half every evening (when estoy cansada…). In fact, I should probably be out there, communicating and having fun. But I’m having fun in my room, reporting back on my day and impressions and listening to PJ Harvey...

Tomorrow I am going to Otavalo with the two Europeans. On the weekends there is a giant market there, so that should be really cool. But don’t worry—you will all get the chocolate I promised you. No cheap trinkets.

Then, Sunday I’m going to climb some mountain with the German girl, some other Germans girl I haven’t met yet, and an Ecuadorian guide (who is apparently a friend of the family and is giving us a slight discount). So, we shall see how that goes. It apparently takes six hours to climb the mountain and four hours to descend, and we will be going up to 14,000 feet, I think. Again, we shall see how that goes…

8:43 pm (After dinner)

Today I went back to the old part of Quito and visited another church. I had to pay to go into this one, and I wasn’t allowed to walk around by myself. I had a guide who explained everything to me. I managed to understand the majority of what he said, which made me pretty proud of myself (naturally). The church was gorgeous and any one who comes to visit me is definitely going to get dragged through this church—no arguments accepted.

Outside the church there were groups of students everywhere, carrying signs and waving flags that all said vota si. Next Monday there is going to be a major vote in this country on a new constitution that Correa has proposed. Correa is the current president of Ecuador and a socialist, and his proposed constitution includes things like universal health care. According to my Spanish teacher, most of the people in Ecuador support it (about 80%), except in Guayaquil, where opinion is split 50-50. Anyway, groups of students rallying means increased police presence, which means nervous traveler (still recovering from the Prague tank—I really, really did not like the Prague tank). Of course, when you are about a head taller than most of the police men, it is pretty hard to think of them as anything other than cute. But then, that is the type of thinking that can get a person in trouble, and I always remember all those stories of Latin American jails. I imagine that policemen become a lot more intimidating when you are looking at them through bars—though that is not a hypothesis I really want to test.

I also went by my school today and introduced myself. The director wasn’t there, but I got a tour of the school and got some more information about the whole school. I was not happy to discover than I won’t get my teaching schedule until the day before I start teaching. I was really counting on being able to prep classes over the next few weeks, but there is absolutely nothing I can do until 4pm the day before I start teaching. So that first week is going to be really, really rough. Ugh, ugh, and double ugh. But I will manage. Somehow.

As I left the school, it started pouring. I walked all the way back home in the rain—a good 20 minute walk—and arrived completely soaked. There were some more random family members here (who turned out to be the brat’s older brother and their father. The kids played soccer in the hall and the brat screamed the entire time. I guess that is how children show joy.) Anyway, I made up a batch of Chai (yum, though I am having problems getting my tea strong enough here. I think it is just that the tea I bought was really, really weak. I need to figure something out.)

Last night the other guests and I nearly came to blows over a tomato and cucumber salad. Our host mom set the bowl on the table and we all grabbed for it, taking as much as we could. We were all so excited to get vegetables, and we kept telling her how much we liked it. I think we are all a bit tired of rice—I caught the girl from Holland scooping some of her rice on to one of the American’s plates when he wasn’t looking.


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