This past weekend was a beautiful, fruit-filled, sunny relief. The previous week had been pretty cold and rainy, but the clouds cleared on Saturday and I saw Quito in a way I hadn’t gotten to see it yet. It was like seeing the same city I have been living in for three weeks (today is the three week mark! Woop woop!) in 3-D, with enhanced colors. It was stunning.
The weekend started out at 5pm on Friday in the office, with Beer Friday. Again, my coworkers and I sat in a circle drinking our extra tall Pilsners after a hard day’s (week’s) work. We played some games, which included punishment of either Truth or Dare if you lost, or dancing in the middle of the room to this song (which is big here, and according to the Ecuadorian map-maker who sits next to me in the office, Jesua, it gets the girls going on the dance floor… hehe). Your choice.
We went our separate ways, then Nick (the smarty pants from NJ), Mark (the Canadian with curly black locks), and Desiree (the sweet girl from Portland, OR who keeps surprising me) met up at a shawarma/hookah place called Aladdin’s (yes, there were actual images from the Disney movie throughout the place…) for some cheap Brazilian beer. The night continued with lots of foosball, and eventually some chill World Cup-related convo at an Irish pub called Finn’s.
Saturday, I was determined to go to the gym for the second time. Thankfully, round two on the bike was a lot less painful than round one. I already feel like breathing is a tad easier… So let’s see if third time’s the charm tomorrow. While I’m spinning away on the bike, I can stare out the window where, just beyond the small side street are some enormous green hills that spring from the background like a pop-up book. I just pedal, huff and puff, and stare. Really, I’m HERE? Can’t wait to bike those hills…
After my very necessary sweat-fest, I made my way to Plaza Foch to meet Libby for brunch. For $5, I got scrambled eggs with bacon, beans, a basket of bread, a capuccino, and a guanabana batido — oh yes. We sat in the sun, enjoying our breakfast as the sun pounded down on us. The ever-present mountains dropped like a stage set in the background, and it was Saturday morning perfection.
Sunday, I spent most of the day in one of the biggest parks in the city called Parque Carolina. I had heard that this was one of people’s favorite ways to spend a Saturday or Sunday, so I was curious. My friend Desiree and I entered the park on another stunning sunny day, and wow. Everywhere we looked, there were people playing soccer, volleyball nets, bike riders of varying levels, skateboarders, sunbathers, little carts with tiny Ecuadorian women cutting up bananas, papayas, watermelon, and mandarins to sell to thirsty sun-beat park-goers. There were “choclo ceviche” stands, where you could buy a bowl of corn and bean ceviche. There were people hacking off the tops of coconuts so you could sip the delicious, potassium-rich fruit water in the sunshine. There were paddle boats in a little man-made river, and old men playing some sort of paddle game that I think must come from the ancient Aztec game that inspired baseball… There were the TINIEST puppies running around at every turn, and children playing everywhere, churros filled with dulce de leche for sale, and more! In the background, the incredible snowcapped Cotopaxi volcano gleamed like a mirage. The park became a colorful oasis bursting with life in the center of the city, the Pichincha Volcano to one side, Parque Metropolitano to the other. It was so beautiful, so sunny, so… everything I had been hoping for on that particular Sunday.
I bought my first papaya the other day, not sure how to approach it since I’ve never actually bought a papaya. It was a rugby ball-sized thing, and I wasn’t sure how to cut it. I began with one smooth cut down the middle and almost started drooling at the sight; black seeds burst from the bright orange meat, which I emptied and then began to slice. I could smell it as I went, and knew this was going to be good… But when I put that first slice of papaya in my mouth, I almost laughed outloud. It was seriously PERFECT. I mean, this papaya was unreal… I’ve had many papayas in my life, but I had never tasted one as PERFECT as this one. Guess what I’m going to be eating nonstop for the next year or so?
Grateful for the sunshine, the new friends, and the papaya. Beautiful weekend, now time for a new week. Just wanted to give you a taste…