Surviving Camping and Cronica Roja

I finally did it! I spent the night camping in the Andes mountains. The experience of camping in the Andes mountains was both rewarding and hilarious at the same time. The hilarious part is because my dad likes to joke with me (because of all the traveling that I have done this year) that in ten years I will probably be riding alpacas in the Himalayan mountains. Well, guess what dad?! No, I was not riding alpacas nor was in the Himalayan mountains, however I camped in the Andes mountains and I saw lots of alpacas. Basically, the same thing, right?
My fellow classmates and I spent the day hiking at Cajas National Park located just outside of Cuenca. Cajas National Park includes more than 800 lakes. I witnessed some of the most beautiful sites that I have ever seen. We hiked through mountains, streams, and a forest that looked very similar to the forest in Twilight. After hiking, we pitched our tents and spent the rest of the day fishing. Besides thinking that when I woke up after sleeping in the tent my feet may be black from severe frostbite, it was one of the best days I have had yet in Ecuador.
The second experience that I would like to share is my reaction after my first football game. Football is one of South America's favorite pasttimes. America's NFL is South America's professional football. Little did we know walking into the stadium, we were about to sit in the craziest section of the entire stadium known as "Cronica Roja". Cronica Roja is the name of Cuenca's most dedicated fans. About ten minutes before the game started, we noticed three men start climbing the fences of the soccer game. Not only did the fans climb the fences, but they actually climbed into the stadium for a while to cheer on the fans. The men on top of the fances started hanging streamers; and passed out rolls of receipt paper to everyone in the section. As soon as the team officially walked out onto the field, all pandamonium broke lose: fire extinguishers filled with red gas started erupting, red flares were lit, receipt rolls were thrown as streamers, and the singing began. Like the little engine that could, we tried our best to stay standing in the Cronica Roja section; however a polite gentleman advised that it was only going to get crazier and not a safe place for gringos. Although we had to move sections, it was still a great experience. Attending a game in the United States vs. a game in South America, could not be any different :). Now that midterms are over (I can't believe we have almost reached the halfway point of our trip), we are heading to the coast and Guayaquil for a week of no classes and relaxation.

Me with Myra (one of the coordinators at Cedei) and Lilly.

Leah (our chaperone), Me, and Bailey inside our tent



Last Sunday my OU classmates and I boarded our small 16 passenger short bus for a day for an afternoon of exploring Ingapirca. Ingapirca is the name of Incan ruins that lie approximately 1 1/2 hours outside of Cuenca. Not to be confused with the Incans, Ingapirca was also home to the Canaris (the name of another indigenous tribe that was prominent before the Incans). This day of exploring the Ingapirca was one of the best days I have had yet in Ecuador! It was so picturesque and absolutely stunning.
Before arriving in Ecuador, I had envisioned a country of serene lush green mountains with llamas and indigenous people quietly sowing the fields. The journey to Ingapirca was the perfect vision of the Ecuador I had imagined. The best part of the tribe was the Incan face. Carved into the side of a mountain, is the face of the Incan. The cool thing about this mountain is that the face is purely coincidental. No machines were used to constuct the face, it is purely an act of nature.

My new weekly routine

So now that I am entering my third week in Cuenca, I am beginning to feel at home and have fully adjusted (at least to the best of my new knowledge) to my new routine. The process of finally feeling at home wasn't always the easiest process, for example the late night taxi rides trying to find my way home as I akwardly mutter "a la derecha" (to the right) or "a la izquierda" (to the left). Or, the other night when my fellow OU classmate came over and I tried to tell that I liked her makeup but instead of makeup, which in spanish is maquillaje, I said, "I like your mantequilla" which means "I like your butter". With time and patience, a feeling of calmness and peace has engulfed me. So, what is a normal day like for me in Cuenca? Well, every weekday morning I awake at approximately 6:30. After getting out of bed and getting ready, I head to downstairs where a delicious breakfast awaits me. Each morning for breakfast, I have a mixture of fruit, yogurt, coffee, and bread. After breakfast, my neighbor and OU classmate Lilly and I being our 30 minute walking adventure to CEDEI. Every morning, we are greeted by the smells of local panaderias (bread shops, yellow taxis playfully honking their horns, school children clasping their mother's hand, people on their way to work, and early risers in the park beginning their exercise routines. Once we have made our way through Parque de la Madre and finally across the river, we head up the stairs into "Old Cuenca" walk two more blocks, make a right onto Luis Cordero and finally enter the doors of CEDEI. CEDEI is two story institution of higher learning that is absolutely gorgeous. With European inspired architecture, a friendly staff, and small crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, CEDEI is a small, but prominent institution where I feel less like a student and more like a explorer from the 17th century. Normal afternoon classes of philosophy or economics, have now been replaced by ceramics and dance. CEDEI has allowed me to exercise my creative talents outside of just writing papers, while still being able to learn along the way.
After my morning classes are over, I then walk back to my house and eat lunch with my family. Lunch usually consists of soup, fruit juice (the fruit juices are the best because everyday there is a new one and they are always so fresh), and the main dish. Once lunch is over, I usually have a couple of hours to myself. During most of the afternoons, I return to CEDEI where I either attend lectures or an afternoon activity.
Ecuador has been absolutely wonderful thus far on my journey. There is still so more that I have to tell you about my adventures! Please continue to check out my blog :)

Peace and Love,


Outside of CEDEI

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