Friday, July 16, 2010

Another Check on the Bucket List

Woo hoo! As of about midnight last night (local time), I successfully achieved my life goal of visiting all the inhabited continents. Fear not, Antarctica is still on the to-do list, but I´m counting this as a major success. My only disappointment is that I had to renew my passport a few months ago so this is stamp is separated from all the others (and it's a lame stamp--computer printed rather than from an inkpad). I guess my only option is to make it back to all the other continents in the next 10 years so that I'll have a complete set.

Quito is impressive so far. We spent today walking around Old Town trying to dodge cars on narrow cobblestone streets and snapping pictures of manicured balconies and really old churches. The church highlight of the day: a massive cathedral where instead of gargoyles they built sea turtles, iguanas, alligators (crocodiles?) and other native wildlife. Does that count as an example of syncretism or just awesomeness?

My Spanish is miserable. So much for those two weeks of intensive immersion Spanish lessons last summer. Actually, I can understand a lot (probably because I get to spend all year practicing my eavesdropping on Spanish-speaking students), but oh man is it painful trying to say anything that makes sense. I'm not sure how much I'll gain back in these few days of actually having to communicate with people (the blue-footed boobies won´t care what I have to say), but it's better than nothing.

On the docket for the next few days:
Saturday: Otovalo, supposedly Ecuador's best handicraft market. I know very little about indigenous Ecuadorean handicrafts, but I imagine that I will know more by this time tomorrow. More exciting, we plan to get there (2.5-3 hours from Quito) via chicken bus, an adventure that always ends in good stories.
Sunday: Mountain biking on Cotopaxi, one of the world's highest active volcanoes. Expected sights include a glacier, up to seven other volcanoes, and me crashing my bike one way or another.
Monday: Taking pictures in front of the Equator marker and then traveling the couple hundred meters to the actual site of the Equator. Turns out the French mathematicians got it wrong, but the ancient indigenous people got it right. Oops.
Thursday: Hop on a plane to the Galapagos to fulfill lifelong dream numero dos for this trip.

Many, many pictures to follow. My new waterproof camera is in working order or at least it didn't die when I dropped it in the pool), so the excitement of Galapagos snorkeling and (hopefully) seal swimming promises to be preserved for prosperity.

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