Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last days in Ecuador

After finishing up exams on Thursday I was ready to relax and enjoy my last few days in Ecuador. And so I have done. Now I am ready to fly out tomorrow morning bright and early. I can barely sleep because of the excitement. I'll be home for Christmas!
Friday was my relaxing day. I mostly stayed inside and played with my host sister, Estefania. I am truly going to miss that little girl. She is so precious to me and it has been so wonderful to watch her grow during the last four months. She is talking quite a lot now and we have very interesting conversations. She is the cutest two year old who loves candy and silly bands. I'm going to miss her precious smile, the way she says my name, and spending time with my little shadow.
Saturday morning Kimberly and I headed out to the tiny village of Quilatoa which sits on the edge of a volcanic crater that is now a lagoon. We did not know exactly where we were going so the bus ride there was quite interesting. On the first leg of the journey we were separated in the bus with Kimberly up front and me in the back with some rowdy kids my age. It turned out to be so fun and I was laughing all the way there as they amused me with their jokes and requests for English phrases. It was fun to hang out with the youth of this country. On the next bus we were weaving up into the mountains when the clouds started to settle in. The bus had to move at a snail's pace because it was so difficult to see because of the fog. It was a bit eerie to be quite honest. Then, some of the people in the bus were shouting at the bus driver to stop. On the other side of the bus, on the outside of the window, some yellow liquid was dripping down. This again made things all the more eerie. Thankfully it was just soup that had been packed on the top of the bus but had turned over. Then, a few more minutes down the road a man looks at Kimberly and I and asks if we are headed to Quilatoa. Quilatoa is frequented by tourists and since we were the only gringas on the bus the deduction could be easily made. We nodded and he chuckled and said that we had just passed it! We quickly shouted at the drive to stop and they let us of the bus telling us to walk back a bit. But the fog was so dense that we could not see anything. We laughed to ourselves about being dumped on the side of the road and not knowing where we were. It was so unfortunate that it was comical. We barely saw a building a little ways in front of us. Since I had to use the bathroom we decided to stop there and ask for directions. We opened the door to the lodge and stepped in. It was dark and appeared to be like a scary movie. We shouted hello but got no response. Finally, we heard some noises. So we ventured further in and finally found a man in the kitchen. We had wandered in to a hotel. The price was steep but because we had no idea where we were and the man said the crater was very close, we decided to stay there. It was the most rustic but charming lodge with a fireplace and a heater and couches. We ate our tuna fish and talked for a while but then decided to take a nap. Then, we woke up for a delicious dinner that was included in the price and talked some more. We woke up the next morning to have breakfast and hike along the crater. We could see the volcanoes off in the distance and I realized how much I will miss those mountains. It was a beautiful spot! It is probably one of the most beautiful things I have seen in Ecuador. I sat on the edge and just admired how gorgeous it was. It was a great time of talking and reflecting on what God had done in our lives over the past four months.
Now I am back in Quito and have been passing the past few days doing a few of my favorite things in this city. Yesterday I rode my last bus to Cumbaya and back and ate choclo con queso with my family in the street at night. Today is bread and wandering around the market with friends. I am ready to come home. The bags are mostly packed. I should be Stateside tomorrow at 4pm.
God has been so faithful. I am amazed by His faithfulness and goodness. He has kept me safe. He has given me a great host family. He provided friendships. He directed me to a church. He has given me great experiences and lessons that I will never forget. He has given me great times in His Word. He has let me come to know Him more...
Oh how He loves us...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

You're the God of this city...

Quito, luz de America, alma del mundo

This weekend, and on through Monday, are the fiestas de Quito. This week long party celebrates Quito's independence from Spain. It is a time of food, drink, concerts, dancing, parades, plays, and much more. The streets are filled with street vendors and chivas, open air buses that are like moving disco bars. This city parties hard from the young to the old. It has been so interesting to watch how this city comes alive with pride and with spirit.
Yesterday I went to watch the parade near my house. The street was full of people and it was hard to find a good place to stand and watch. The mayor finally arrived and the parade began. Dance groups went by arrayed in different indigenous outfits. Others dressed in garb from the colonial period. School marching bands played some demonstrating an astounding amount of precision and discipline and some seeming chaotic but truly enjoying the music. One school band even played an old Quichua song that I recognized. Men on stilts paraded through...twice (yep, same guys). The Queens from the different cities as well as the newly elected Queen of Quito went by on floats. The police dogs demonstrated their training by doing various tricks. Some jumped on the backs of their masters and sat up to wave at the crowds. Young and old women danced the traditional dances. Men dressed up in outfits that took us back to the time when Quito was an Incan city. The parade was full of life and action...FOUR HOURS of life and action.
My favorite thing in the entire play was a dance routine that rivaled anything from Step Up One, Two,...and is there really a Third (fracaso= fail). In this dance routine their were indigenous dancers. Some with scarves from the city, some dressed as those from the mountain regions, and some dressed like those from the amazon. Each group danced a different dance simultaneously that all followed the same beat. Paired with all of them were break dancers. It was amazing but what it represented the most was the amazing diversity of this country. Not diversity in different peoples from different nations, however, just the diversity of Ecuador itself. It was a clear display of what is so controversial yet so beautiful in this country.
Tomorrow we are going to watch the bullfights which is tradition here in the city of Quito. And I am sure that tonight I will here the chivas go by and here the shouts of "Viva Quito!" (Long live Quito) all throughout the night. I certainly heard those shouts during the parade. City pride is so important for this country. In fact, many might die for their city before their country. People identify by what city they are from. And with all the vitality of this pride yesterday I wished I could say I was quitena. I shouted "Viva Quito" once or twice but the words tasted strange in my mouth. I realized that this is not my city. I am far from home... and I am ready to go back.
So as I sat and prayed with other believers today in church for this huge city of Quito... I also prayed for another city that is constantly on my mind. We begged for God to move in Quito, and I begged for God to move in my city. We asked that God would move our hearts with compassion for the city...I am still asking that God would move my heart and others for the city I cannot wait to get back to.
You're the God of this city
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You are...
Greater things have yet to come
Greater things are still to be done in this city...