For Tuesday morning our group of about 40something international students (from US, Japan, Canada, Australia, France, Belgium, Sierra Leone and Mexico) were divided into two groups to explore the old city (Centro Historico) of Quito and to visit Capilla del Hombre--a museum of Ecuador's most famous artist, Oswaldo Guayasamin's--most famous works. This year no photographs were permitted inside the museum but fortunately for me, I was able to last year. For dinner, I brought a bunch of us to La Ronda (since not many others have ever been to Quito before) for dinner but we were split up into two restaurants because there was way too many of us.
On Wednesday we headed off to Otavalo in the same two groups, with stops at nearby towns to meet with the Cotocachi weaver family, to listen to traditional indigenous music and to a shaman's house to see a ritual cleansing with Axel, one of the students, as the volunteer. The ritual was the only new thing that I had seen so far on orientation, and I asked to be the volunteer but because the ritual involves flames and requires most of your clothes to be removed to prevent the fire from catching, my director thought it would be better to have a male volunteer.
Thursday morning we all went to Otavalo's market but since I had just been there last Saturday, I didn't buy too much. After we finished up at the market we headed to Cuicocha, an active crater lake. We took a boat trip around the lake and were given canelazo after we got off. At Cuicocha they served us canelazo without any sugar cane liquor, which made it to cinnamon-y and not sweet enough for my tastes. We headed back to Quito for the night and some of us went salsa dancing in the Mariscal district after dinner.
On Friday morning we woke up early (again) to head down toward Riobamba. We stopped at Salasaca for lunch where we had a typical lunch of choclo (corn), potatoes, and vegetables. After lunch a few people demonstrated a ritual dance and then some of the students joined in. After that we split up and learned about the dyes used for the artisan crafts (basically larvae guts) and the process of weaving.
Yesterday morning we woke up, had breakfast and headed to Chimborazo--an inactive volcano that has the highest summit in Ecuador--to do a short climb from the first refuge to the second one. Although there wasn't a ton of distance between the two refuges, we were about 5,000 meters above sea level (just over 16,000 feet), making it a little bit more difficult to breathe.
I reached the second refuge with the first group, where we rested and took a bunch of pictures before heading back down. When everyone returned to the buses we started our trip down to Guayaquil, where the weather is so much warmer. We arrived around 6pm and I headed back to my host family's house. Tomorrow we will be meeting up for a city tour and picking classes.
|Martin resting on the way up Chimborazo|