Hola a todos!!
Yesterday, my school took a day trip to Saquisili and Cotopaxi, about two hours away from Quito by bus. The drive was pretty fun because all of the students from the school were there as well as the teachers, so we got a chance to talk and really get to know everyone. Also, throughout the drive, we stopped at a lookout point where you could see all of the southern part of Quito! Quito is a very, very long city, about 25 miles long, so from where we were you could only see the southern half.
From the road, we could also see some pretty beautiful views of the billboards, volcanoes, and mountains around Quito.
Saquisili is an indigenous town that generally makes their living by way of their Thursday market, so almost everyone in the town as well as people from all over Ecuador come out for their animals, fruit, vegetables, and artesian goods. The town and market are fairly small, but it was very crowded. Our first stop was the large animal market where we saw cows, pigs, sheep, and llamas for sale. I asked how much it would cost for the cutest llama there (he had a cool hairstyle) and it was only $50!!! If only my cat at home wasn't so territorial I totally would have bought it.
Afterwards, we went to the small animal market where they sell rabbit and guinea pig that are to eat, not for pets. In Ecuador and Perú, cuy (guinea pig) is a delicacy and they are bred specifically for this purpose. We didn't get to try any, however, and I'm not sure I'm totally on board with it but I'll probably end up eating it at some point.
We did get to eat some tortillas made with cheese inside that they were cooking everywhere on the streets. It smelled so good!! For 4/$1, it was a great deal and a great snack.
Then we went to the fruit market which was really interesting because there are so many fruits here that we don't have in the US. And the fruits that we do have, like banana, taste SO MUCH BETTER here. They are so creamy and delicious, I'm definitely going to miss that when I go home.
Lastly, we went to the artisan market. I tried not to buy much because tomorrow (Saturday) I'm going to the biggest indigenous markets in South America, but it was so pretty and colorful it was hard to resist! There were hand woven scarves, table clothes, ponchos, sweaters, purses, backpacks, hand-painted boxes, trays, plates, paintings, and so much more. It was really pretty!!
Our next stop was the National Park called Cotopaxi, named after the volcano that is there. The volcano is well over 5,500 meters high and is the highest active volcano in the entire world!! The national park was very cold and very windy because we were so high up, but it was so pretty and enjoyable. There was a huge cloud looming over Cotopaxi so we didn't get the best view, but we could see the other mountains that were in the park just fine!
We had a guide who joined us on our bus ride up the volcano who told us so much about the park and all the animals and plants, as well as the history of the volcano. It has erupted a couple times, and there is currently a threat for it's eruption. Our guide says that volcano is like a human, however, and he lives with her and he knows her better than anyone and that he and the scientists know that she won't erupt soon. Apparently she's just bubbling a little bit and the media are being very dramatic. I sure hope not because that would be very destructive to all of the people who live on the mountainside! After our trip, my roommate and I decided to stay in and take advantage of having a free night to be able to upload pictures, skype and call family and friends, and just relax a little since we were up so early!
This morning when I woke up, my host mom had invited a friend of hers over (with my permission) to look through my suitcase full of things to donate to the orphanage. She is a single mom of two who is working odd jobs to make things work. She brought her two very sweet daughters who loved so many of the things that I brought and ended up taking some things home with them. Even though my intention was to bring everything that was donated to the orphanage, I'm sure these sweet girls will enjoy and use the clothes just as much.
Afterwards, I went to the artisan market in Quito to see what all the buzz was about. (I obviously really love markets and souvenirs haha) The part of town that the market is in is very pretty and I loved walking around and enjoying the beautiful weather today! It was pretty sunny for once, so I loved getting my vitamin D and shopping fix all in one. They had a lot of the same type of things that the market had in Siquisili, and I ended up buying some things for some lucky people at home.
In the afternoon, I had my last class with Germán and I feel like I learned so much in just one week. This weekend, I have plans to visit Otavalo as well as the Mitad del Mundo, also known as the Equator line, so I don't have much time left in Quito, but I am so happy to have been here and experienced so much already!