So the first week in my homestay was a bit awkward since the family seemed to be having a lot of personal issues and it was just weird at times, and often I was only eating with one other person… So when the second Sunday came and they said a new student was coming, I was thrilled to say the least! My new housemate, Esther, is amazing! She is 29 and from Holland and just spent 4 weeks learning Spanish for the first time in Quito. She is now in Otavalo for 4 weeks volunteering in an elementary school. Her being in the house really turned things around for the better in so many ways. First of all, she is the youngest 29 year old I’ve met…she is hilarious, easy to talk to, and loves playing and teaching games – and knows a zillion!! The first night after dinner we went on the porch with Daniela and Jorge and played “el juego con elastico.” I’ll have to show you all because it hard to explain but so fun! Basically two people stand apart from each other with a large elastic wrapped around their legs and a third person jumps in and out along to a song… okay I’ll draw a picture because definitely cannot describe it well.
More on Esther… she has been awesome about telling me EVERYTHING I need to know about Quito and traveling outside of Quito as well! She also eased my nerves – reassuring me that she loves the city and that its not as scary as people say. She said if you’re smart and take taxi’s at night always, you’ll be fine… so that’s a huge relief tp hear. She wrote down suggestions for Internet cafes and restaurants, a travel agency to use for the weekend trips, and gave me my first map (and helped me decipher it as well).
My last full day in Otavalo, Esther was a super awesome friend in joining me on the hike to la cascada (the waterfall) in Peguchi – a main attraction that I had yet to see. But again, that is the awesome thing about the “tourist attractions” here in Otavalo – they are never overcrowded or overdone. It was a rarely-sunny and bright Tuesday afternoon and we leisurely made our way towards the fall, following the train tracks as the guidebook recommended. When the track ended… we looked around perplexed but then finally asked a boy and he said we were going the right way. As signs appeared, so did the wilderness, and we entered the pathway into the forest and towards the river. It was completely peaceful and serene, with just the sounds of the waterfall and rushing water in the background of our chatting.
As we walked towards a hidden lagoon, we saw a little cavern and wanted to see what was on the other side. I tried taking a photo but it was just darkness, although it seemed like it would lead to the bottom of the waterfall. When we came out from it, we noticed a couple of youngsters lurking… when we turned our back again, they actually took a photo of us with their camera phone! Just after we had been talking about always asking people to take their photo here….How rude!!! So of course I pulled out my camera and took a snapped a shot of them, HA take that! (****see photo of kids at waterfall!)
As we continued on towards the waterfall, we saw a few more teenagers, and it became obvious that this was “the spot.” Lucky kids, their make-out point is a serene, secluded cavern looking out on a waterfall!
The waterfall was enormous, we couldn’t get very close without getting wet. The fall is actually sacred to the locals and is used for ritual cleansing baths…I was definitely ready for some cleansing, so of course I got as close as possible and soaked my entire head in the misty-spray… Refreshing… (**see photo!)
……After the waterfall, we went back to the house, had a nice meal with the family, who made me help with Estefanie´s English homework (pretty funny actually she needed to make a list of 140 sentences using “and” so Ester and I had fun making up these…. for example: “My soup is cold and I hate it.” After dinner I met Martina and Ramona for a goodbye chat/hangout . . . sad to end this chapter but ready for change, even if it is in the big bad city!!!
Quito update coming this week…
BESOS y ABRAZOS xoxox,