Buenos días a todos!
It's amazing how fast time flies. I’m halfway through my time here and I have already done so much and had so many new experiences. This week I visited a local carpentry class just for fun and got to try my hand at wood working, though I should probably stick to activities without giant, spinning saws. ;) I walked down to one of the local open air markets and spent an hour wandering around the stalls of fresh produce, meat, fish, and live animals. Markets here are like farmers markets in the States on steroids---and I could spend all day wandering through them.
Saturday I went to one of the largest artisan markets near Quito called Otavalo. It was so much fun and the artists and vendors were so interesting, as were the goods they were selling. I bought a ton of gifts and found some gorgeous paintings done by a local artist. Bartering is the norm here, so I was able to get quite a bit of handmade gifts/art for a relatively small amount of money. On the way up and back, I stopped at a lookout point and saw both the Caymabe and Cotopaxi active volcanoes, with altitudes of 18,000ft and 19,300ft respectively. It is amazing that there are over 7 active volcanoes of varying hights surrounding Quito. Cotopaxi erupted last August, but they saw it coming and evacuated the areas closest to it. I think Quito had some ash cover for a few days though.
Sunday morning I went downtown to and toured the Mitad Del Mundo/Museo Intiñan, which is where the zero latitude line is drawn and you can get the corny tourist picture with the sign saying you are standing on the middle of the world. Yes, I did succumb to the tourist inside me and got a photo. ;) For lunch I went to a restaurant called Fiambres where Andrew Zimmern from the TV show Bizarre Foods first ate cuy (guinea pig). I’m an adventurous eater and I’ll try anything once--trust me, I’ve had a variety of interesting dishes. So now I can add roasted guinea pig to my repertoire. To me it kind of tasted like a very greasy chicken, but it was pretty good. In the afternoon I went down to one of Quito’s artisan markets and walked around, and of course I bought some more alpaca scarves. They’re just so soft!
In other news, I experienced an earthquake tremor for the first time. Last night they had two earthquakes on the coast, 5.9 and 6.2 magnitude aftershocks from the big earthquake back in April. Quito usually feels the tremors from earthquakes on the coast. I have to say it is one of the strangest feelings in the world to feel the earth move underneath you. The whole building shook and we all just held on for about 2 minutes until it stopped. I’m told it was pretty gentle as tremors go, but it was still quite a weird experience. I was reading the paper this morning and as of 8:55am here, they have not issued a tsunami warning for the coast and while there were injuries, no deaths have been reported. It is devastating for the infrastructure on the coast though, since many are still recovering from the big earthquake in April and the large aftershock in May.
Today I am headed to Calderon, a town known for its sculptures and art made from hardened bread dough. I’m told the nativity sets they make are quite sought after.
Here's to every new day!
An aspiring polyglot and globetrotter, an avid reader, and a lover of good food. :)