Saturday, February 28, 2009

Back to Cuenca and Real Life, Kind Of

Lauren and I got back into Cuenca last night after a long and tiring but amazing trip through Peru and a little bit of the coast of Ecuador. After two vacation in the month of February, I still have another week of vacation until classes start on March 9th.

The three of us (including Becky) arrived in Guayaquil on Wednesday and spent the day getting to know the city. Finally after 8 visits to and from the largest city in the country, I've seen the few sights. Malecon 2000 was very nice and cool, with an IMAX and modern art and anthropology museum. We then walked up to Las Penas, a series of steps and colorful shops in a neighborhood. That took us about 2 hours, and then we had basically seen everything worth seeing in the city. We also ate some great encebollado, a traditional dish on the coast which consists of a lot of onions, fish, and other vegetables. It's served hot and is known as the local cure to hangovers.

The next morning Becky left to go back to Loja and Lauren and I went four hours up the coast to visit our friend Ricardo in Portoviejo. Portoviejo is the capital of the Manabi province, but has no tourism and is 30 minutes inland from a beach. Because of that, everyone was looking at us like we were crazy for going there and making sure we were getting on the right bus. Instead of speaking Spanish they were using hand motions to speak. It was pretty funny.

Portoviejo is a pretty small city, but reminded me of Machala. It's dusty and hot, and we walked around, ate encebollado, and hung out in Ricardo's neighborhood. We gathered around the local kids and taught them to play football. American football, that is. It was a lot of fun. We ate some great food with his family and then relaxed for "hammock time" on the rooftop terrace at night with a few beers.

The next morning Lauren and I headed back for Cuenca, a long 8 hour trip stopping in Guayaquil. Our original plan was to travel as long as we could and go far up the coast to Esmeraldas, but early on the trip in Peru, Lauren realized that she wouldn't be able to afford it because the universities still haven't paid us. I haven't been paid in 2 months, and she hasn't been paid in 3. This morning I spent an hour waiting in line at the bank to find out that I still haven't been paid. We also just found out that the university has been paying us $20 less than the contract states every month, so we should be getting a check to make up for that, hopefully.

It's nice to be back in Cuenca, though it is sad that the trip is over. We saw and did some amazing things, as well as meet some really nice people. I was pleased when I walked into my room to see that the light bulb was changed with a more powerful one, and I'll now actually be able to read at night for the first time since I've been in Cuenca. I'm very excited about it. I feel like I can actually see into the room for the first time.

Over the course of the next week I'll be adding photos from the trip as well as writing about some of the experiences we had in Peru. So stay tuned.

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