Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Full Weekend of Visitors

I haven't written in a few days because I've been pretty busy entertaining some friends from my program. 5 different volunteers came down from Quito this weekend to see Cuenca, as well as a couple others from Machala and Guayaquil. It meant having to be a bit of a tour guide for the city, but it was fine because it allowed me to do some things that I haven't yet accomplished in Cuenca.

I was looking forward to a long vacation from the university this week, but unfortunately my plans were changed. Since February I had heard that in May there is a week off for "Student Week," and though no one knew exactly when it was, they knew it was in May. Every week I would go to the university and ask, but still no one was sure. And finally we found out, only through word of mouth, that the vacation would be the last week of May.

Excited for a much needed break, I planned on either going up to Quilotoa to see the crater lake or heading to Canoa on the beach to meet up with some friends. On Thursday night my friend Chelsea and her friend Mary arrived in Cuenca right before I went to my night class, and I was happy as I headed to the university. When I got there I commented to another teacher about the upcoming vacation, and then my night was ruined.

"Oh, but you teach the professionals course, right?" the professor said.

"Right, why?"

"You don't get a vacation."

You have got to be kidding me, I thought. Even though the entire university gets the week off so that students could play sports, listen to concerts, and drink on campus, I would have to teach my Monday-Thursday night class. Students bussed in from all over the country, it would be nearly impossible to teach with the noise anyway. At first I was furious, and then just destroyed and upset. I really needed the break, and even my friends visiting couldn't make me feel better, though I tried. The worst part about it was that no one from the university had even bothered to tell me, as usual. So if I hadn't talked to the other teacher and just assumed I had a break like everyone else, I would have been in trouble. There's always a double standard.

Friday went by casually enough, walking around town and showing my friends the sights while plotting of ways to get out of teaching the next week. Later at night two more friends from Quito arrived. Amelia and Brittney showed up a bit later after the 10 hour bus ride got them in around 9:30, so we just grabbed a late dinner and called it a night. On Saturday morning we dodged parades in the center and then headed up to Turi, a church on a hill with a view of the whole city. I'd only been up there once before, a week or so after I got to Cuenca, and at night. I'd always wanted to go back during the day. There are steps you can take up to the top, and from the center it's about a 40-50 minute walk, depending how slowly you go.

For me the hike was easy because I've been walking around a lot and training for the race in Quito, but for others it was clearly a bit more difficult. Even though the Quitenos live at higher altitude, they walk much less because of the set up of their city. We spent some time at the top, just taking in the view, eating some salchipapas, and talking while getting sunburned.

After Turi, we went back home to rest up before going out that night. It seemed like everyone from Quito was suffering from the plague, and keeping health up was a concern. The hostel was also filled this weekend with Peace Corps volunteers, and just to be jerks, Chelsea and Mary talked about the "trip they'd just taken" to Mexico in between deep coughs to a volunteer in their room.

Once rested, we all went out to dinner at La Vina, a great Italian restaurant not too far from my house, and then went out dancing for a little bit before most of us called it quits around midnight. The plan was to wake up early and head to Ingapirca, the biggest Inca ruins in Ecuador.

Above: Views from Turi

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