Thursday, April 21, 2011

La Semana Santa

Well... this week is Holy Week! That means a small break from classes and a lot more. What people have told me is that Cuenca used to be SUPER traditional holy week... some families would observe a week of silence, the radio would only play sad music etc. Nowadays it’s less intense, but there are still many traditions. On Holy Thursday, lots of people go to visit la siete iglesias (seven churches) at night to pray. My professor told me that she loves going and that the atmosphere is very “mystical.” It is supposed to represent when Christ was imprisoned and it’s like you’re going to visit Him in the church. (Fun fact: there are way more than 7 churches in Cuenca.. I think there are 50 something cathedrals.)

On Friday, families make fanesca, a soup that has 12 different grains/ingredients to represent the 12 disciples. Generally families make a HUGE batch and have everyone over to eat it. I got a little preview of fanesca on Wednesday because one of the teachers at the escuela in Turi made it for us! Que rica. There is a service of adoration in the afternoon and everything in the city is closed at night. Also, during the whole week all of the images of Jesus/crosses in the Catholic churches are covered by a purple cloth to represent the time that he was dead.

During the weekend there are parades of people carrying crosses, walking barefoot etc in Guayaquil & Quito, but not so much in Cuenca. On Sunday, the purple clothes are taken down and everyone goes to mass to celebrate the Resurrection, much like in the states (only no Easter bunnies or baskets. I told my host family about this tradition and they think it’s super weird!)

Other than that... I have just been working hard at the school, doing lots of homework, and having fun with my friends! This week I celebrated a couple birthdays, went to a play in Spanish, went to my first bailoterpia class (latin dance aerobics), went to my small group, went to an open mic night last night, got rained on a lot (April is the rainiest/coldest month here), and I think that’s about all I have to say! I hope this entry finds all of you well. Happy early Earth Day, Easter, and happy early birthday, Rachel!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My last month in Cuenca...

Sorry I have been neglecting this blog lately! Like I said before, this half of the semester is a lot busier with classes and my internship. On Thursday, we celebrated Día del Maestro (Teacher Appreciation Day) at the school in Turi. The kids put on a program, gave us flowers, and the teachers all went out for lunch together to eat cuy! (That’s guniea pig if you forgot.) I have to say... it was actually the best cuy I’ve had so far. The outside was nice and crispy and the meat was very tasty. The teachers were all so excited I was digging into my cuy and it was fun hanging out with them outside of school.

I have my final exam for my pre-colonial/colonial literature class today, then I start my modern literature class (I think?). I really like my professor and the class is really interesting. I have basically decided to live it up and really enjoy Cuenca my last month. I have tried a lot of new restaurants, gone to some couple of concerts, gone out a lot with my friends, met new friends too, and celebrated Días de Cuenca this week. (A holiday celebrating the founding of Cuenca.) The other foreign exchange students at my school are leaving in 2 weeks, so they’re all starting to wrap up their time here which is kind of starting to make me mentally prepare myself to finish up my time in Cuenca (even though I still have a little less than a month left.)

In news from home, I decided at the last minute to apply for camp again and found out last week that I was hired! Praise God, I’m excited to see what the summer has in store. I also found out I will be living in an on-campus house at North Park next year with 5 other girls, which I absolutely can not wait for.

In my “service learning” class, we usually just talk about issues in society for the whole 2 hours and I have learned so much that I never knew about Ecuador. I won’t go into all the politics and social stuff because I don’t know if anyone reading this is really interested, but we can certainly talk about it when I get home if you are! I just feel so blessed and exhilirated to have this opportunity to live in and learn about another culture. I know that I only have a surface-level understanding of Cuenca and Ecuador and South America in general, but I have to say this trip will NOT be the end of my travels... it has only increased my desire to travel more!