Journals from Universidad de San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) Ecuador
2013-09-07 Last Month in Ecuador
The beautiful Volcano Cotopaxi from the top of my apartment building
It is amazing that my last month is Ecuador is drawing to a close. It has been a very busy and exciting month!
I had the opportunity this last month to go visit Ecuador’s National Archive for a project for my Ethnohistory class. We went on a “field trip” to the Archive and had a tour of the different rooms in the archive. Our tour guide, a woman who works at the archive, showed us around and answered any questions that we had. Then, as part of a project for our class, we had to choose a document and analyze it. This assignment was very difficult for me. Not only was the handwriting different than what I am used to seeing, but the documents were also quite worn due to their age. Further, spelling was not standardized, so I struggled to figure out what words were what. Overall, I learned a lot and it was a neat experience to hold these ancient documents in my hands and read what they say in person.
Obra de Danza
This semester I took a Modern Dance class. I love dancing, and I thought it would be interesting to participate in a sport that I love while learning another language. I discovered that the vocabulary is very similar between English and Spanish because most of the words come from French. My final project for the class was to choreograph a dance and perform it. I was nervous, but not too worried. However, the professor threw in a twist: we were performing in an old, abandoned public pool. There were a few challenges with this particular location. One, the pool is located outside and Quito is known to have rainstorms in the afternoons. Two, the pool was about an hour on bus away from my house, in a part of Quito that I did not know very well. And three, we only had two practices at the pool. The idea was that we were going to do solo performances, but my professor let a friend and me dance together. It was nice to have someone else to help bounce ideas off of. The performance turned out really well in the end. Instead of being about choreographing a dance, and then putting it in the location, this particular performance focused on using the space to inspire choreography. Overall it was a great learning experience for me, and has helped me to become a stronger dancer.
When I left for Ecuador, there were a few places that were on my list to visit, and Cuenca was one of them. However, I reached the last month, and I had not yet visited this quaint city. Luckily, Cuenca is a very popular destination, so I was able to go with a group of exchange students from USFQ. We arrived in Cuenca after taking an overnight bus trip tired and hungry. We got breakfast and then relaxed in our hostel for a few hours. Then we went on a walking adventure of Cuenca. A law was passed in the 1990s that requires that all buildings that were built before a certain year are to be maintained. This means that the entire city looks like Quito’s historic center. While we walked around the city and explored, went on a bus tour of the city (I highly recommend it), and ate Peruvian and Colombian cuisine.
One day we went to Inga Pirca, which is the only Incan Ruin in Ecuador. Our tour was guided by a Cañar/Ecuadorian woman who explained the history of the ruins and what significance they had to both the Cañar people and the Incan people. The ruins were beautiful, and it was a great opportunity to learn more about one of Ecuador’s many indigenous groups.
Ecuador has many volcanoes that are active, dormant, and extinct. There are a few that can be seen from Quito on a clear day, but often times, there is too much smog, or there are clouds in the way. However, during my last month, I was able to see Cotopaxi, a beautiful snow-covered volcano four times! For comparison, I had only seen it once in the rest of my time in Ecuador. I also was able to see Antisana and Chimborazo. What a treat to be able to view them right before I left Ecuador!
My last month is Ecuador was a wonderful way to sum up my entire time in the country. I started to feel closure and started to say goodbye. Leaving is never easy, but I felt like I had the opportunity to do the majority of what I wanted to do. I know that I will be back in Ecuador to visit as soon as I can!