Culture, Cotopaxi and the Center of the world...
22.10.2012 - 28.10.2012
Hola mis amigos, I’m still here in Quito, and have just finished ploughing through my second week of Spanish school. It’s been quite an eventful week for me, and although I have hardly any pictures to show for it, I write this blog as a memoir for me to look back on during the many years to come.
My hermano de otro madre (brother from another mother) came back from Mexico over the weekend, so this week for me has been an interesting mix of historical culture, and local insights into the nightlife of Quito. Aside from viewing the change from lightness to darkness over the top of the city from the panoramic viewpoint of Guapulo over a hot cup of Canelazo, I have also now visited the historical old town of Quito, the majestic volcano Cotopaxi, Mitad del Mundo/ center of the world, and had many other experiences.
Rewind to Wednesday, when I took a stroll around the historic town in Quito, together with Luis, the owner of the school, and several other students. It was not only a good cultural experience, but we went in the late afternoon and only finished our little tour in the evening, and so were able to capture the different colors of the Ecuadorian sunset in combination with the unique architecture of the buildings. We stopped at a small café twice during the tour, once to have a cup of coffee with Humitas, a local dish of ground corn with cheese, and the second time to try canelazo, a drink typical of this region, slightly alcoholic, with a strong taste of Naranjilla, a local citrus fruit. After the tour, we met up with my “brother” Diego in la Mariscal, and headed off to a hip salsa bar for a little dancing. Great music, and it was full of awesome dancers, I only wished they’d played a couple of bachata or cha cha songs in between for a change of pace.
*On a funnier note, when in the taxi from the old town to Mariscal, I conversed briefly with the driver about the scores of the football game blasting on the radio, after which he thought I was Chilean. I’m not sure if I should be flattered or insulted, but it’s definitely not the accent I was going for…
After completing my classes on Friday, I headed up the road to the house of my mother’s mother, to join the rest of the family and some other students for a “movie night”, complete with homemade popcorn… in Spanish of course. After watching not one but two movies, we retired to the living room where Daniela, a German student from my school, made us traditional raclette for dinner.
Again it was a busy fun-filled weekend for me. On Saturday, I took the school tour to the Cotopaxi volcano, one of the highest active volcanos at 5,897m above sea level. Of course with my tendency towards altitude sickness, I did only the day tour to the refuge and glacier to 5,000m. Still, it was a beautiful day with a clear sky and totally worth it.
And as a final applause to the end of my week, I visited Mitad del Mundo, the supposed center of the world at latitude and longitude 00 ͦ00’00”. It was an insanely hot day, making me feel almost as if I were back in Singapore, sans the humidity. We went first to the museum to look at different scientific experiments to test the differences in gravitation balance of the Earth’s center, such as balancing a raw egg on a stand, and then proceeded across to the (very touristic) monument to spend some time watching the display of traditional dances in the plaza, and of course to take the obligatory photo of the giant phallic symbol on the equatorial line.
Tip: Speak Spanish as fluently as possible to the taxi drivers or they’ll charge you extra, walking in groups at night is safer, and it’s a good idea to make at least one local friend. Chao for now!