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!