Saturday, July 19, 2014

One Week In

This week has flown by. Between teaching and doing some consulting work, I've been keeping quite busy. One evening, while I was in my apartment, I heard some English and stepped out on my balcony. The next thing I knew, I had an invitation to a party at a nearby home that was being rented by a family from Texas. The home was incredibly beautiful and had stunning views. This photo is from the top terrace. We enjoyed quesadillas, chips with salsa and guacamole (made by the young daughter), and some tasty margaritas. My hosts also attended along with a mother and son from Seattle who were here studying Spanish. I wanted to stay longer but I teach early so I headed back to my little home before it was too late.

The master's students presented their thesis research last evening and this morning. Last night, three other professors and I went to a fantastic restaurant to determine the outcome of the presentations. We ordered a bottle of wine and tapas: a cheese board patatas bravas, shrimp in a creamy Pernod sauce, and tapenade. It was delicious and I may need to treat myself to dinner there before I leave.

 

Another student rented a large and beautiful home so she hosted a party to celebrate so we went to that after. It was amazing having wine on the rooftop terrace watching bolts of lightning crashing all around us. Eventually, it started to rain and we went inside. I ended up with my students at a salsa bar until 1:30. I behaved myself nicely and had a student from our program walk me home when everyone else went out for street tacos. We were up and at 'em for presentations at 9:00 this morning.

After the presentations, I went to this tea shop that I am in love with. They have a great tea menu and at some point, I'll give there food a try too. They have a pig theme (hence the cookie next to my cuppa) and they have books all over for people to enjoy in the shop or borrow. All of my books are on my Kindle otherwise I'd be inclined to leave a book there. I had a little nap today, found a beautiful purse (I've been on the hunt for months), and did some strolling around. I found a little Asian joint by my apartment and I'll probably get takeout for dinner and curl up and read and go to bed early.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Class in Mexico

I’m sitting in quite possibly one of the most charming kitchens in Mexico, waiting for the water to boil for my pasta. I’ve been here three days and had a mental block about blogging because I had promised to blog about Ecuador “soon” and that never ended up happening due to campus meetings almost as soon as I got back, a challenging summer school class, and other random things that came up. As much as I have to say about Ecuador, I want to write about Guanajuato while I’m here.

I taught here last summer and it went well but somehow, this summer is even better (with the exception of my dear friend, Dr. SH, being on a well-deserved vacation instead of hanging out with me in Gto). Though it may seem like a small detail, a big part of it is my apartment. Last year I stayed in a fully remodeled apartment that an American family owned. It was very nice but somewhat sterile and the caretaker was not terribly pleasant. This apartment is attached to a family home that also has B&B style guestrooms. It is filled with charm and art (and mosquitos, to be fair) and the owners are lovely people. It’s a bit silly, but I think it’s super cool that there is a pomegranate tree right outside my window. I have my own place and I get a taste of family life and Mexican hosts to help me out. I ended up asking the Señor for a corkscrew and toilet paper tonight.

I taught this same class last summer so I have materials prepped and they only need minor modifications. My walk to campus reminds me of my walk to class when I studied in Avignon. After class, I either go to a coffee shop for a snack and tea or I work on campus until I decide to leave for lunch. Today I went to lunch at a Japanese place. It’s so small, there are just a few tables in an alleyway (callejón) and no place to eat inside. Then I ran some errands. It seems every day there are minor errands that are more fun here. It’s a challenge to find certain things without taking a cab to a bigger store. My dinner is made up of pasta and cheese purchased from a convenience store and vegetables and butter from a tiny produce shop. I found a little wine at a random store that I had never seen open before. It will be fun for the brief time I’m here and then I’ll go home and enjoy some of the luxuries I have in my kitchen. Including a cooking partner (Austin) and background noise (Stinky’s fussing).


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Home

It feels so good to be back. Updates and actual writing very soon.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cheers!

A little down time after a day on the farm.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ambato

This is the view from our hotel. We'll be spending three lovely days here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Notes from Ecuador

I'm sitting in a student computer lab right now at our sister campus. We've been going non-stop since we got up on Monday morning after getting in quite late on Sunday. We are spending the first six days in Quito then heading out to smaller towns and villages where I will not have any internet access.

I really like Quito; it is no doubt its own city but it also reminds me of other Spanish-speaking areas I've visited which adds a sense of comfort. We are staying at a hotel but I'm in an apartment with three other women from other departments (geography, sociology, and nursing). We get up each day and go to the lobby for breakfast. There is a great sun room that I posted previously. Then we pile into a bus to head off to our next adventure where some of us gaze out the window to see the city and other professors... profess. A lot. It's quite the study on personalities!

Our tour of the city on Monday was fantastic. I loved it all but particularly enjoyed La iglesia de compañía de Jesus, a Jesuit church that was out of this world. It was designed in a mosque-like style with stunning Arabic patterns on all the walls. It is informally known as "The Gold Church" because almost anything that could be covered with gold leaf has been. Catholic altars line the walls and the front altar is incredible. The best part is that combination of Arabic, Spanish, and indigenous flavors. I hate to make comparisons but it's human nature--this church is to gold what Ste. Chappelle in Paris is to stained glass. It took my breath away.

Last night, a small group of us went out for authentic Ecuadorian food. I have already formed an addiction to aji, a salsa-like condiment, but last night I got the "real" food to put it on. The best were the llapingachos (photo later) which are like mashed potato cakes bowned on the bottom. Amazing. These are things I will attempt to recreate at home but I will need to find a way to acquire tree tomatoes, hmm....

Ok, we're off to lunch in a bit and then we'll be touring a campus hospital. Later tonight, I'm off to the contemporary art center for an artist talk, so excited!