Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ecuador May 17, 2008

Ecuador May 17, 2008

One more full week of school and then two days of classes the following week followed by two days flying back to Colorado. Seems like just yesterday that I landed in Cuenca. Also seems strange that it takes two days to fly back. It took eight hours to get here.

When I was booking the flights both American Airlines and Continental flew to Ecuador along with Delta that I picked. American Airlines and Continental both published times of more than 24 hours to get here while Delta said they could get me here in eight hours flight time. Both American and Continental had flights that went from Denver to either Miami and then Los Angeles. Both flew from either of those cities to Panama City where there was a layover before flying to Ecuador. I have been in Miami and Los Angeles many times and did not think that spending several hours in the airport in Panama City would be a good thing.

Have you ever noticed that all airports look the same? I flew a lot in the Air Force and spent many hours in civil terminals waiting for flight clearance. They look the same and smell the same in every part of the world. I wonder if they have an air freshener you can buy marked “Airport Terminal?” I know that you can buy air freshener called “New Car.” That one will save you $30k to $40k if all you want is the smell.

I had regular class yesterday morning and then walked home in the rain. It rained all day and night. I asked Eugenio about the weather and what happens when. He said that it rains from January to July or August and then is dry from August to January. The rainy season is their equivalent of winter.

You have to consider where the sun is during the year or even more correctly where the earth is tilting. Ecuador is on the equator. The earth’s northern hemisphere is either tipped toward or away from the sun. When it is tipped toward the sun it is summer in Colorado. When it is tipped away from the sun it is winter in Colorado. This tipping has the same effect in Ecuador.

The autumnal equinox and the vernal equinox just mark were the sun is at those two times of the year. One might think that the sun is always straight on the equator but that is not true. It is consistently warmer and dryer at the equator depending if you are in Africa in the Sahara or in South America in the Amazon.

As we know in Colorado altitude has a huge effect on the temperature. It never gets hot in Summit County by most standards but it gets very cold by everyone’s standard.

I have had a few people ask me about the food here. Other than eating rats (Cuy) the food is very normal. I lived in Mexico and Guatemala and the food in both places is the same as here.

The only place where Latin food is spicy is in the United States. It is not spicy in Mexico, Guatemala or Ecuador. It is actually quite bland.

Breakfast is served at 7:30 am and is two scrambled eggs, juice, water, fruit, fresh juice and a cup of coffee or tea. There is always a block of what is called Fresh Cheese on the table and I can slice off as much of that as I want. It is a soft cheese and is very much like mozzarella only much softer. Elena was serving Nestles Instant Coffee. I would always put two spoonfuls in my cup of hot water and it still tasted like crap. I mentioned that and she dug out a package of fresh ground coffee. That is wonderful. I went to the store and bought her a replacement package and it was $2.46 for a pound. The name on the package is Cubano but I do not think that it came from Cuba. I kidded her that it was probably communist coffee and that really concerned her.

At 1 pm for lunch, which is the big meal of the day, we always have steamed rice with fish, chicken or beef along with vegetables cooked in oil, fruit and fresh juice. Elena has a microwave but only uses it for reheating things. Eugenio bought some wonderful grapes at the store and we had those yesterday.

For dinner there is usually rice with leftover meat from lunch and fresh juice and fruit. That is the smallest meal of the day. Once in a while she will fix a salad. No lettuce, just cucumber, tomato and onions with oil. Last night her youngest son Steven came over and had a large bottle of olives so everyone had those too.

Speaking of the store it is called Supermax. Yes, just like the maximum security federal prison in Florence, Colorado. Supermax is wonderful. It is as nice as any Safeway, City Market or King Soopers in Colorado. It was probably the cleanest store I have ever been in. The store employees all wore very nice suits and were constantly asking if they could help me shop. Nice change from the arrogance of the employees in stores in Colorado. The Supermax was the anchor store in a small shopping center about 20 minutes from the house. I did notice that everyone shopping in the store was well dressed and appeared to be wealthy or were Americans. Elena had told me that the prices in Supermax were actually cheaper than the Mercado in El Centro. I agree. I wonder if the poor people in Cuenca are intimidated by the nice store. If that is true that is sad.

I will leave you on that note. In Mexico the indigent population is discriminated against. There it is the Indians. In Guatemala the Mayans are discriminated against. In Ecuador it is the Aztec decedents who are discriminated against. In all three countries the indigent population has a darker skin tone and they all wear native clothing. What a sad thing that they are put upon because of their ethnic background or the color of their skin. What a sad thing that we do the same thing to Mexicans in the United States. There should be a law against that. Oh yeah. There is a law. g

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