Journals from Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador
This past weekend I went to Cuenca, which is the 3rd largest city in Ecuador. This weekend was their independence celebrations along with All Saints Day and Day of the Dead. In Cuenca I didnt see as much Day of the Dead stuff as I did in Quito. In Quito the major food of these holidays is pan de guagua and colada morada. Pan de guagua literally translates to baby bread, but its more like a bread doll. Colada morada is the drink that goes along with it. Its a sweet drink made with flour, sugar and a bunch of different fruits. The major fruit in it is blackberry, but there are also chunks of various fruits such as pineapple, bananas, apples, etc. In Cuenca the celebrations were more about the independence. Also Cuenca still has a lot of their colonial architecture, which was really cool; I didnt exactly feel like I was in Ecuador there.
The first day I was there I went to a national park which is about an hour away to go hiking. It was so beautiful, I have never seen landscape like that before; there will be pictures on facebook at some point. That afternoon and the next 2 days I spent walking around Cuenca looking at churches and trying to go to museums. I went to the Panama hat museum, which was pretty cool. Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador and exported to Panama. In the museum we watched a guy heat up the hat with water so the shape will hold. We also attempted to go to a Museum of Medicine, but it was closed for the holiday. =( instead we looked in the windows and looked at the old autoclaves that were outside.
Tuesday night while we were wandering around buying time till our 10pm bus left, we ended up sitting in the main plaza of Cuenca watching a speech (on a projector) that the president of Ecuador was giving. Little did we know he was in that building giving the speech; towards the end of it the police started to accumulate and we started to realize what was going on. Later he came outside to shake hands and say hi to people. If we had been a little bit more aggressive we probably could have shaken his hand--we were literally about 15 feet from the president. I dont think I have ever been that close to someone that famous. It was kind of a crazy thing for us gringos because nothing like that could ever happen in the US. The president was surrounded by a crowd of civilians with maybe 2 or 3 policemen at his side and another couple dozen in the vicinity.