Last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I had the misfortune of getting sick. I think it may have been something related to the flu, with gastrointestinal symptoms as well. This meant that it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to travel coming right off the heels of the illness. Usually I don’t look forward to staying in Quito because I don’t have much to do and end up doing things alone, since I don’t have many Ecuadorian friends (one of my biggest frustrations). However, last weekend was the beginning of the Fiestas de Quito (celebrations to commemorate the founding of the city in 1534). There are parades, bands, and food in all parts of the city during the weekend and week that last all the way until the 6th of December, the big day.
Saturday I decided to go to the Teleferico, a gandula that carries passengers in small cars up a cable to 13,500 feet, 4,000 feet above the city of Quito. My stomach still wasn’t 100%, but by this point I was feeling much better. As the car climbed, the views of the city below and the Andes mountains kept more spectacular. Once I stepped off, I was able to walk around and see just how giant Quito is, taking up an entire valley in the mountains. I had to stop every so often while walking up the hills to catch my breath due to the altitude.
I really wanted to hike to the top of Pichincha, the volcano that overlooks Quito. However, the weather was foggy and cold, I was still getting over my illness, and my host mom advised against hiking it alone since it is possible to get lost. I noticed that there were horses for rent that go most of the way to the top. It looked really fun, so I decided to go for it. The ride was about two hours out-and-back. It took us through the beautiful terrain up to the base of the rocky summit. From the very top, the buildings of the city looked like miniatures.
Once I got most of the way back down, I ran into Savanna and her host mom. We got talking, and I ended up returning with them. Savanna’s host mom ended up taking us out to lunch. Afterwards, I returned home, rested a bit, and then went out with a big group of people to see the Civil War game between OSU and UO. I really enjoyed having a little taste of home and seeing Corvallis on TV.
Sunday I ended up going to Parque El Ejido for an event put on by the host family of one of my friends. It turned out to be a cool experience. There were two bands, one of which played classic rock covers, a puppet show, a traditional storyteller from the coast, and a children’s dance by two members of the Ecuadorian Ballet. I was thinking about just heading home afterwards but decided to stop by another park, Parque Carolina, which is on the way to my house. There were tons of little food stalls set up in the park, five stages, a circus type event, and tons going on for little kids. My first stop was lunch. I ordered Arroz con Cameron (rice and shrimp), very popular in the coast, and it was fantastic! Next, I looked around and found that there was an amazing group of traditional indigenous dancers on one of the stages. The announcer announced that he would be giving out CDs at one point, so I raised my hand. It turns out that I was called on stage with three others for a little dance-off. I ended up being the “winner” based upon the crowd. In the end, we all got CDs. That was one of the more exciting and fun things I have done in Ecuador.