The last place you would ever think to find Cody Press is in Quito, Ecuador. In fact, this 6’1” “creature of habit” who has become accustomed to the finer things in life, even admits to not having heard of Quito until I declared I was going there. He does claim, however, to still remember Spanish from his middle school classes over 40 years ago. But, with his ‘baby’ gone-abroad for a full semester, there was no way that my father was going to miss taking a trip to the equator.
Both my mom and dad were astounded by the Ecuadorian hospitality. My parents’ plane was scheduled to land at 11:15pm and, still, my host mom insisted on coming with me to greet them at the airport (little did she know that I was not even planning on greeting them). The next day, my host family invited my parents to a one o’clock lunch (which was actually two o’clock… Ecuadorian-time). This gave my dad an extra hour of enjoyment sitting in the living room speaking his botched Spanish. They went all-out for lunch, breaking out the lovely table settings and making a traditional lunch of Locro (potato, cheese, and avocado soup), a fresh and colorful salad, Patacones, rice, jumbo prawns, and Colada Morada y Guaguas de Pan which is the traditional desert served on The Day of the Dead. My host brothers speak English pretty well and between their English and my dad’s lively attempts at Spanish, we were able to have a nice lunch with pleasant conversation.
As if all of this had not been gracious enough, when they heard we were going to Mitad de Mundo my oldest host brother offered to drive and accompany us there. This was lucky for us, as we would not have made it in time since lunch ran so much longer than we planned. I had to smile as my dad successfully balanced the egg at the equator and proudly received his Egg Master certificate. After, my host family drove us up to see a town in the crater of an active volcano called Pululahua. They then dropped us off at the Liga game where my mom and dad both picked up a lot of Spanish “questionable vocabulary” that should not be repeated! It was an exciting 2-2 comeback for La Liga during which 2 red cards were issued and countless yellow cards.
We were able to accomplish everything I wanted to do in Quito in that one short weekend. When my mom and dad walked through the park Carolina on Sunday, the crazed soccer parents that still live inside them stopped to watch a youth soccer game played on dirt with a ball the equivalent of a coconut. We enjoyed giant empanadas in La Ronda in Centro Historico. We rode Teleferico and my dad and I sat and gazed at the nice view in front of a church (not wanting to move) as my agile mom hiked around the top trying to see things from every possible view. On the way down, my dad had the great pleasure of being puked upon by a small Ecuadorian child who had been stricken by the altitude. He, very uncharacteristically, did not even freak out…or yell, but when my mom told him not to handle the tissue I had passed to him to give to the child’s father, he replied, “This one is for me!”
Studying abroad has been an experience of a lifetime in which I have made my own little life here in Quito. I live with a nice host family and have a small group of close friends. I have a busy schedule and experience things I would never have the chance to do in the United States. But at the end of the day, as wonderful and amazing as this life is (and I would not trade this experience for the world), there really is nothing in like seeing your family towering over the small Ecuadorians in the airport at midnight after they flew for 3492 miles just to spend time with you.