This week we finished our orientations and had some time to explore Quito and the Otavalo market.
This is the Universidad De San Francisco, where I will begin classes next tomorrow. It is a beautiful and peaceful campus.
Our tour of Quito started at Itchimbia Park which has a view of all of Quito. Above is the view from the bus on the way there.
This is South Quito from the park.
The Basílica del Voto Nacional
Me in front of “Old Town” Quito and the students in my program.
A closer look at the Basílica del Voto Nacional
Monument in Plaza de Independencia
El Panceillo from Plaza San Francisco
Plaza San Francisco
Our view of Plaza de Independencia during lunch.
After lunch it started pouring rain and there were thunderstorms the rest of the day! Our first experience of the drastic weather changes here in Quito.
Yesterday we took a bus to Otavalo market and the surrounding areas. We did this with another IES program and had to pay $30 to go with them. At first many of us wanted to try to go on our own, but I think we would all agree now that going with IES was the right choice.
The day started with coffee and bizcochos. The coffee here is surprisingly terrible. That morning it tasted like instant coffee in simple syrup. The bizcochos tasted like shortbread and were tasty. The best part of breakfast was a group of musicians who were playing in the restaurant. They played traditional music from Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. Most of the group danced around the restaurant after eating.
Here are a few of the many volcanoes we saw on our way to Otavalo!
We then went to Cascada de Peguche, a waterfall where people used to go to rid themselves of bad spirits by standing in the water and having women wave burning herbs around them. Sadly, we did not get to experience this tradition, but the waterfall and the buildings surrounding it were incredible.
The waterfall was so powerful. We all got soaked exploring the rocks around it.
We then hiked up to the top of the waterfall where there were caves that led to the river.
Up next was Otavalo market. At first it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. It seemed like just another tourist trap until I broke away from the group and started talking to vendors and exploring the other parts of the market.
People walked through the crowded selling coconuts and other items like the onions pictured above. Most vendors were selling from booths and had art, tapestries, jewelry, sweaters and pretty much everything else a visitor could desire.
My favorite part of the market was the food section. We had limited time there, so most people in the group didn’t explore this area but it was fascinating (even though I would never eat any of it).
The vegetables were so colorful, fresh and hard to resist.
What I initially thought was cooked beans turned out to be fresh water snails at this booth! To be eaten with salt and lime (yum?).
Many people sold spices, corn, beans and eggs and presented them on the ground. I had to be careful when navigating the crowds not to step on anything.
This man sold pieces of raw chicken at his booth. I can’t even imagine what kind of bacteria they had (if only I had an Ecuadorian gut!)
Our day ended with a boat trip in Cotacachi. The fourth most dangerous volcano in Ecuador? The world? I’m not sure where the guide said (it was all in fast spanish), but its dangerous apparently. There is a lake in the crater called Cuicocha because there are a lot of Cuy (guinea pigs) on the islands within it.
The boat ride was fun and included canelazo, a traditional Ecuadorian and Columbian drink.
Tomorrow we start classes and I am excited to begin the scientific aspect of this journey. The evolution track leaves for the Amazon tomorrow and my group is going to the coast of Ecuador on Thursday!