Coconut Ice Cream

Tonight at dinner (the really yummy Chinese place), my host mom, dad and I were trying to plan a day for a little fiesta before I leave….and it took everything I had not to cry. I told them I was planning on coming back and my host dad, Luis said “with us, or with other people?” and I said “with you guys!….well, if you want me to come back and it’s okay.” I probably should’ve checked first, but thankfully they were totally on board and invited my whole family to come visit! So, in return, I invited them to Michigan (sorry Mom) – in the summer though, because what they think is cold here doesn’t compare to a good ol’ Michigan winter.

I thought we were going to be gone the whole weekend, but we only were gone for 1 day – Friday. (My family probably thought I was crazy for packing a bag for only one day.) On Friday, we visited the province Imbabura which inlcudes Otavalo, Ibarra, Cayambe, La Cascada de Peguche, La Laguna de Quicocha, and Laguna de San Pablo.

Fun Facts about all these places:

  • Otavalo is famous for it’s artisans and pretty much everything I bought, I watched them making it right there which made it that much cooler! Also, my host mom, Elsa, is the best bargainer EVER! Whenever the vendor started speaking in English, we knew it was time to leave – luckily, my Spanish is good enough to tell them ” no thank you, we’re going to look elsewhere” because when they speak in English, they are probably about to charge you nearly triple or quadruple what they would charge Ecuadorians!
  • Ibarra might be my favorite city in Ecuador solely because the patron Saint is St. Michael the Archangel and they have a huge statue of him in the middle of town square. Everywhere you turn in Ecuador is something religious and I have re-found my pride in being Catholic and my love for Saints!
  • Cayambe is known for it’s Bizcochos – they’re everywhere! Literally. On one street there might have been 15-20 little restaurants that all sold Bizcochos and cheese. I like them, a lot, so I had them for breakfast and dinner on Friday.
  • La Cascada de Peguche was gorgeous because I love waterfalls and my host dad always wants to get the perfect picture so we got SUPER close to the waterfall and met this guy who takes care of it…? Not entirely sure what that means but he was dressed in traditional clothes and it was a special experience to say the least. I also got to witness (and kind of take part in) the start of the Inti Raymi celebration which is a celebration of worship to the sun god. Hence the reason I didn’t fully take part in, but it was a cleansing ritual and I was really congested so my family decided to take part in a bit of it.
  • La Laguna de Quicoche is a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains and my host cousins (3 of them – all boys), my host brother, sister and I rented a paddle boat that looked like a shark and went out on the water. I had to convince the boys it wasn’t a good idea to play bumper boats with the other people on the lake.
  • La Laguna de San Pablo was our first stop of the day. A boat ride, on a crisp morning, the smell of boat gas, no one else on the lake and a gorgeous view was exactly what I needed to clear my head (figuratively speaking, although I was congested and it helped temporarily but not indefinitely). All of the ducks I saw were completely black with a light yellow beak and they would dive underwater and run across the water but I never saw one fly.

On the way home, I rode with my host cousins and brother and sister and we sang the entire time. I found “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston on my host cousin’s phone and decided to play them – I don’t know who was more shocked: my host family because I don’t usually sing much here since I can’t figure out the words in the Spanish songs and I TOTALLY belted both songs out, or myself for remembering all the words!

I FaceTimed my grandma for the first time since being in Ecuador on Friday night. It was 11pm her time but my family was in town for a cousin’s graduation party. Grandma told me to go to bed because I looked and sounded bad (she meant sick) – thankful for her love and care continents away. ❤

Saturday I convinced my cousin to take me back to La Mitad del Mundo because even though I went with the school, we didn’t go to the actual Monument and that was one of the things on my bucket list of Ecuador. Shoutout to my cousin, Freddy, for taking all the pictures and videos on his phone that I wanted without complaining since I don’t have one! I had to continue my tradition of doing a back tuck at (almost) all the cool places I visit and the Equator was definitely one of these places.

The rest of the weekend was filled with soccer games, hanging out at the voley court, Snapchat filters, cartwheels, picking on my host brother and cousin and yummy food.

Now, it’s Sunday night; I just submitted my second to last assignment to IU; I counted that I have 10 days left with my students (and that’s if there’s no surprise days off or field trips like there usually is); I’m eating a limon (not a lemon, but not a lime – but sour like both) with salt; and I don’t want to go to bed because I don’t want to have one less day here.

By the way, bloody noses are a sign of pregnancy in Ecuador – definitely have had close to 20 since I’ve been here which isn’t really a surprise considering how often I get them and how dry the air in the mountains nearly 9,500 ft high is. But, now I understand why there was so much laughing and snickering whenever I got them in class!! Talk about explaining THAT in another language – whew.

I’m off to paint my nails and say my prayers before bed. Hopefully you all had a great weekend celebrating Memorial Day and are going to have a great (short) week!

I ALMOST FORGOT!

You’re probably wondering why this post is titled “Coconut Ice Cream” but since I’ve eaten ‘helado de coco’ 5 times in the past 3 days, I figured it was fitting to sum up this weekend.

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