Hola a todos! You can find me tonight sitting on my bed, stomach filled with chicken and rice, people watching from my conveniently-placed window on the busy street of 6 de Diciembre. 10 weeks in and I’m used to the loud buses that rumble past my apartment and the crosswalk “GO” signal that I hated with all my guts during my first week here. I’m glad to feel at home in my neighborhood and in my city. There’s a lot of simple beauty in the normal here.
I stayed in Quito for the week due to class field trips. I’m going to share the highlight reel of my week, because as many of you know, I’m a positivist who likes to dwell on the good rather than the bad. Quick disclaimer though: my life is not a highlight reel! While this is the greatest, most adventurous semester of my life, every single day is not the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Sometimes I get tired or spend hours doing homework or get less than ideal grades on exams or miss Dance Marathon so much it hurts or watch my friend get her phone stolen on the bus. Life here is, simply put, LIFE: the good, the bad, the ugly, the joyful, the laughter, the unideal.
Takeaway point: Study Abroad is absolutely incredible, but everyday life is not what is reflected in my Instagram posts. Disclaimer over. Here are some really great things about Week 10:
-Exploring Quito with my Amigos. This week included a trip to a cool-vibes jazz club to check out a local band, dinner in La Ronda (a fun street in the Historic Center of Quito), lunch at a Korean restaurant, new coffee shops, and playing cards and watching movies at a friend’s apartment.
-Class Field Trips. My profs did such a good job with our local trips this weekend. On Saturday my Andean Popular Arts class took a trip to Capilla del Hombre y la Casa de Guayasamin. Oswaldo Guayasamin was a very famous Ecuadorian artist who, at the end of his life, gave his home to the Ecuadorian government so that the people could access it and explore his art. It’s a beautiful home and we even got to paint our own pictures in part of it. La Capilla del Hombre is the brainchild of Guayasamin: a sacred space dedicated to the human experience and reflected in art. A lot of the art in the capilla deals with some pretty heavy stuff, but it was amazing to explore. On Sunday, our Spanish class traveled to Mitad del Mundo, el Templo del Sol, and Volcán Pululahua. Mitad del Mundo is the official equator, where we got to do some fun experiments. Templo del Sol is a site dedicated to the Incan sun-god Inti. Here we got to explore art galleries, experience an indigenous aromatherapy session, and watch an artist paint a gorgeous picture using only his hands. Both of these trips were very cool.
-Fútbol in the Park. Juan Carlos is one of the staff members at IES and got a group of us together for a soccer game in Parque La Carolina on Friday. After waiting out a torrential downpour for a few minutes, we decided to play in the rain. It was a blast.
-Sick Views. This week I discovered that the roof of my apartment has two terraces that I have access to. There are no high rises in my neighborhood, so the views are amazing. El Volcán Cotopaxi was visible at sunset one night (extremely rare!) so I went to the upper terrace to just stare out over Quito and the mountains. It was absolutely incredible and I felt #blessed to witness the beauty of the city where I live and the surrounding landscape.
-The Niños at the Guardería. I love my service learning placement at the daycare SO MUCH. The kids are absolutely precious and absolutely wild at the same time, and I love it. I feel like I’ve seen it all here: some days are so crazy that I just look at Caylee and laugh (because, in the words of my wise pal Abby Veldink, “Laugh or Cry”). Honestly though, I love bonding with these kids. I’ve shared this before, but these children come from some of the lowest-resource families in Quito. Their parents work as “miners” in the Quito trash dump and are sometimes treated as outcasts by their own community. Simple things, like health, education, and childcare become incredibly vital to the improvement of the lives of these families. I’m so thankful to work with an organization like Extreme Response to promote empowerment in this community.
-March Madness Brackets. A group of us have formed a bracket competition for March Madness (although, really, none of us have actually been paying too much attention to college basketball this semester). I love a good dose of competition and am ready to win it (maybe)!
I’m thankful for so much here in Quito. I’m thankful for the normal: the everyday things that have become so routine I could do them in my sleep. I’m thankful for the crazy: the things that make me question if this is actually my life. But most of all, I’m thankful for the simple joys that this semester has brought: a mug of warm tea with my host mom, walking in the park with friends, and waking up every morning in a beautiful country that reveals more of itself to me each day. Te amo, Ecuador.