Scarlet Begonias

I was woken up this morning by what I would have sworn were gun shots, and the eruption of car alarms that followed… And thus begins the next three months of my life in Ecuador. Yep, after my whirlwind three week tour of California, I am already back in Quito. My time in California flew by, I managed to pack in Coachella, U.C. Santa Barbara’s All-Gaucho Reunion, and a visit to the north to see almost all of my extended family… I think I only slept five nights in my own bed, and now I am really looking forward to staying in one place for longer than a couple days.

Turns out, the ´gun shots´ I heard this morning were part of a celebration they have during the month of May for the Virgen… I didn´t really understand all of the explanation my family gave me, but the more time I spend in Latin American countries, the more I love how celebrations don´t just last for one day, they really know how to draw out a fiesta over the course of a week, or in this case, a full month.

I´m starting my time here taking Spanish classes for two weeks at the Guayasamin Spanish School, located smack in the middle of La Mariscal, aka Gringolandia. I only took two days of classes this week, and it actually made me miss ICA and Xela, a lot. After my two months in Guatemala, even though that really isn’t much time at all, I felt like I was part of a family, and I really loved the city of Xela itself. I guess I always do that, fall in love with places, and then I miss them for months afterwards, or sometimes even years…

The family I am living with is great, although completely different from my family in Guatemala. I am staying with a  young couple, David and Tatiana, and their daughter, Valentina. Tatiana´s parents live a couple blocks away, and they come over all the time. David and Tatiana seem so completely in love and just really happy, and Tatiana and Valentina are both beautiful, people shouldn´t be allowed to look that pretty all the time. I am very content living there, at this point Valentina is pretty much my only friend, and she is already way cooler than I will ever be. I´ve started watching the Simpsons with her, futbol with David, and this great telenovela called Lola with Tatiana during lunch. So far so good.

Right now there is a lot of political turmoil here, I guess the President, Rafael Correa, has started trying to privatize water and restrict foreign imports, as well as increase milk prices, while at the same time censoring the media and jailing reporters… there are all kinds of protests going on, and always some new development. Last summer when I was here Correa was, as far as I could tell, almost universally popular, and I´m surprised to see how quickly things have changed.

Not everything has changed though. The women are still beautiful, La Mariscal is still filled with tourists, they still sell chocolate caseros (my favorite kind of ice cream bar), the cars still do not stop for pedestrians, the men still catcall while you walk down the street and I still haven´t figured out the proper response to cat calls and in turn still feel extremely awkward… It´s strange being here again, it feels familiar, but still overwhelming, the city itself is just so big.This weekend I have no real plans, just trying to adjust to the altitude and figure out my surroundings. I bought Mad Men Season 1 for my Ipod and if I´m really being honest, I probably am going to go back to my temporary home and watch an episode right now, because I am tired and also kind of in love with Don Draper. Until next time…

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