Sunday, March 2, 2008

Invierno en Quito

I tried to escape the Pacific Northwest winter by coming to South America. Instead I find myself in the midst of one of the worst winters that Ecaudor has had for a long time. It is colder than usual, and the massive rains have created flooding and mudslides near the coast. Apparenty there are mountains around the city, but I have yet to see them through the clouds. Hotel rooms are cold and damp, and wet things don't dry out. So basically, I feel right at home.

We are staying in the Mariscal district of the New Town, which is a ridiculously hip and international area. With the signs in English, the fondue bars, fancy restaraunts, ecotourism agencies, and gear stores on every corner, I don't feel like I'm in Ecuador. The Old Town of Quito couldn't be more different. It was the first UNESCO World Heritage sight, and the colonial architecture is stunning. I have never been so excited about balconies and doorways. The downside of my time in Old Town was ordering a cafe con leche at lunch. Usually it's drip coffee with a little milk, but this time they brought out a whole cup of steamed milk, and pointed to a glass jar on the table. It was shots of espresso that had been sitting out for who knows how long, and we were supposed to add it. The barista in me that was taught to use shots within seconds just couldn't drink it.

We wanted to check out a fútbol game, and we heard that there was a free game that night because it was a national holiday. Perfecto! Of course it started pouring when we got off the bus, and by the time we got to the stadium were already pretty wet. When we tried to go in, they asked us for a colaboracion. Sidenote: I had never heard this word before, and just learned it in Otavalo when some musicians were playing in a restaurant and then came around saying something about a colaboracion. I thought they were talking about a collaboration album. Fooled by a false cognate! No, it turns out it means donation. Anyway, at the futbol game I was surprised they were asking for money, because we thought it was free! I asked how much we should pay. "No, not money, you have to donate food, like rice or sugar." What? So we tromped back out to the store for some goods. We finally got in, 3 wet and perplexed gringas proffering cooking oil and with no idea what teams were even playing.

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