Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ben in Ecuador - Week 1

Week 1 
I was a little nervous on our first day of class. Our host mother walked us to school just to show us the way, and we quickly learned that traffic laws are nearly nonexistent. The pedestrians absolutely do not have the right-of-way in Ecuador which made any walk absolutely terrifying. After dodging cars on the way to class, we walked up las escalinatas. These are the stairs that lead up to our schoolhouse. The trek up there the first time was rough to say the least due to the extraordinarily high elevation (almost 8,500 ft.). Everyone was enrolled in both a grammar and conversation class according to their individual level of skill. The first day we started right off learning preterito indefinido and I knew I was going to learn a lot over the course of the month. Our first tour was at a monastery just up the road from the school. The tour itself wasn’t too exhilarating, but it was interesting seeing all of the artwork from the olden days. The thing that stood out to me most was that the sisters (monjas) would be sent to the monastery at eight years old and would never leave. There was a set section of the monastery just for them because they weren’t even allowed to see the outside world. And what was most interesting is that even today there are a handful still living that lifestyle in that same monastery. We also had dance class and cooking class that week. Dance class was very repetitive seeing as we only four girls in the group. So they wouldn’t even let us dance in partners. The cooking class was in our house so it was nice to sort of feel like a host. We had an authentic potato soup which was very good. (We had soup almost every day while we were there.)
Cooking Class
Monastery Clothing
Our first weekend excursion was at a place called Ingapirca. This was an old Incan ruin site about two hours away from the city. On the way there we first stopped at a roadside food vendor unlike any I had ever seen. These people had a whole pig on display on the side of the road and were cooking it by blowtorch. They were cooking a strip or so at a time and then cutting it off and serving it. It was very odd, but overlooked the outlandishness and decided to try it out anyway. It turned out to be pretty good, however crispier than normal. We then stopped by a special church. This church was up high on a mountain, but we later learned that this church was actually built into the side of the mountain. After all this, we finally headed to Ingapirca. It was very interesting to learn about how only the most important people were privileged enough to live next to the sun temple. All the others lived farther away. We saw the ancient aqueducts and foundations of the houses too. One member of our group also found a 400 year old piece of pottery that we sadly had to leave there.

Mountain Church
Inside Mountain Church
Blow-torching the pig

Eating the pig

400 year old pottery

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