Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas in Cumbaya

So I am back in Cumbaya (Quito), spending the xmas holiday with my host family that I first stayed with when I came to Ecuador. Leaving the island was rough: I did not want to leave my host family and all the friends I made, not to mention the beautiful island itself. The Yepez family made me a farewell dinner of lobster and rice and potatoes and more homemade hooch. We exchanged gifts and I bawled like a blubbering baby. We all arrived in Quito on Saturday and were put up in Hotel Corlina. Sunday evening we had our farewell dinner, and then few by few, students were taken to the airport to return home, or else continue on their travels. I was surprised by how emotional I became, saying goodbye to some great friends, trying to make plans for Spring Break (Asheville, baby!).
Monday some of us went to the Oswaldo Guayasamin museum in Quito. It is his old home and studio converted into galleries of his collections of pre-colonial artifacts, his original artwork, and a side exhibit of other painters representations of Guayasamin. He is considered one of the most influetial and important artists in all of South America, and was from Quito. I was so happy that I had the chance to see his museum. He was a spokesman for peace and used his work to depict the agony and suffering caused by war, slavery, and oppression of culture.
Later, me and two friends rode to Mindo, a small town just a few hours from Quito. We stayed in a small cabin, surrounded by lush green hills and small streams rushing. Mindo is known for the butterflys and orchids that grow, this time of the year is supposed to be the best for the orchids to be blooming. We walked up a long muddy road to the Marioposia (Butterfly Nursery) where we entered a small area, netted closed, of course, with probably one hundred beautiful butterflies. There were owl eyes and blue morphos, and plenty more that i couldn{t identify. We were told that because there hadn{t been much rain lately, most orchids weren{t in bloom. We had lunch in town and took a two dollar bus back to Quito. We all went out together that night, dancing in downtown Quito is not near as much fun as dancing in San Cristobal, and the other four students left the next morning. I woke up alone in a huge hotel room and felt ready to come home for the first time in four and a half months. I packed my things and left them with the hotel, while I roamed around Quito by myself. I went to the Cultural center and saw a lot of pre-colonial artifacts, including many pots made by the Incas. I walked around more, ate an almuerzo, and then rested in a park for awhile. There was an artisan market set up, many families out together, and even a brass band in the park and a small parade.