This morning was much more pleasant than the previous considering I had a very restful night and was able to have all my belonging at my disposal to use! I woke up around 9AM and had a wonderful breakfast with my host family. We had fresh bananas and strawberries as well as a sort of grilled cheese sandwich. I’m not sure the name of the cheese, but it is really tasty and melts perfectly! I will ask mañana (tomorrow)! After breakfast, my host family invited me to go to the park with them. We went to Parque La Carolina, which is a very popular park in the city. The park was very crowded and there were many places there where people could run or play soccer. My family went to play soccer. There is a lot of open space for dogs or games. Many people walk, run or ride bikes on the track on the outside of the grasses. There are also many benches, play areas and bars for working out or gymnastics.
Another special thing I learned about this park was about the Cruz de Papa. When Pope John Paul II came to Ecuador in the eighties, he led a huge catholic mass in the park and they built the cross-pictured below where the service was held. We spent about two hours in the park and it was very beautiful and sunny. There was a lot to look at and I even got my first Ecuadorian sunburn! Before we left the park, I had the opportunity to try fresh squeezed orange juice (juiced right in front of me) as well as fried bananas and Ecuadorian style potato chips! I loved it all!
When we got home, my host mother made me a jelly and cheese sandwich and sent me off to school for classes. I arrived a half hour early for classes and met up with my new German friend, Kim. We talked for a bit and then got tickets to go to a salsa class after our Spanish classes! At 1PM when we had classes, I spent two hours with my professor, German, practicing my Spanish grammar and reading aloud. After the break, for the last two hours of class, my professor took me to the market. The Mercado that he took me to was so unique. There were endless vendors and Ecuadorian foods being sold. Each vendor had something unique. There were fruits, meats, spices, and even flowers. The most beautiful flowers I’ve ever encountered. Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m a complete fool for beautiful flowers. They sold a whole bouquet of perfectly perfect flowers for as cheap as $2. I was in absolute heaven.
During our trip to and from the market, German and I practiced A LOT of Spanish. I feel like my fluency just in the 8 hours of lessons that I have had has really improved. We walked back to school and finished our lessons.
After lessons a big group of us from school went to salsa lessons! They offer free salsa lessons to all students on Tuesday and Thursday every week. I am a terrible dancer, but I decided I could not pass up the opportunity! We went to lessons and I danced/learned my first salsa dance ever! It was so much fun! I was really clumsy at first and totally could not pick up the fast paced moves, but the teacher was really patient and made me her partner! It was a complete blast. I will for sure be coming back on Thursday and hopefully by the time I return home I can show off some great salsa moves to everyone!
After salsa, some of the kids were heading back to a house for dinner. I wanted to explore the town a little and eat a real Ecuadorian meal in town. I happened to meet another student studying here from Indianapolis, who graduated from Purdue University a few years ago! I was so excited to find someone who is pretty much my neighbor that we ended up going out for dinner! It was nice to find someone who was familiar with places I knew and American culture! We found a cute authentic place that specialized in Ecuadorian meats. I had a dish with chorizo that is called a Choripan. It is basically chorizo sausage on bread with tomato and lettuce and their mayo. It was amazing!
We had a really fun time and it was nice to see the city at night. We have to be very cautious here at night. Many tourists are targets for robberies just like in big cities like Chicago. For this reason, I took a taxi back home to my host family!
Overall, today was another wonderful day full of exploration and new surroundings. So far, I have not encountered any problems or issues with the food or my safety. I feel very safe everywhere I travel and besides the water, most foods are safe and quite delicious! Thanks for following and I send my best wishes back to the States!