Monday, September 21, 2009


We are back to our not so ordinary, ordinary lives.

Eric woke up at 2:30 this morning to meet Tom Small, a postdoc who has been studying birds in Pappallacta for the two years he has been in Ecuador. He is at the tail end of his research and goes to the field several times a week to catch and sample 'rufus collared sparrows' (he bleeds them and cuts off their heads). The goal of his research is to look at mechanisms that control their reproductive behaviour. The area of Pappallacta is higher than Quito, at about 13,500 feet in elevation, and the drive (during the day!) can be spectacular, as the road climbs over an even higher pass in clouds and often snow. I would like to visit Pappallacta to bathe in the hotsprings and look for spectacled bears (which are rarely seen), and Eric enjoys the experience of setting up the nets and capturing the birds.

So while Eric started his week in a very unusual sort of way, it was back to school for Maya and four hours of Spanish for me. We have fallen into the rhythm of our lives here, with ballet and orchestra and violin for Maya, and language classes, exercise, and ferrying Maya around for me. We have adjusted to our new home, and I am learning how to manage in a miniature kitchen without the usual equipment. I finally cooked the chicken I had in a pot on the stove, and it was delicious with added potatoes and carrots and onions. I thought I had to have an oven to cook with, but it appears that one can manage without. I have had all sorts of wonderful intentions about cooking Ecuadorian food, and I do have the appropriate cookbook, but whenever I get ready to cook, it is so much easier and quicker to use a familiar recipe. What is noticeable is how wonderful everything tastes, and I think that is because the ingredients are generally fresher and tastier than at home. We have a wonderful bread shop down the road, and a fruit and vegetable stand as well, so it is effortless to traipse down to the corner and choose a few items. Megamaxi, which is literally a five minute walk away, has everything else one could need (other than a whisk, which I believe is essential for the kitchen but seems immaterial here), but Eric and I try to shop together, and pile everything into the trunk of the taxi for the short ride back home. There is really no other way to shop without a car, and it is inadvisable to walk home laden with groceries, at least that is what we are told.

It is interesting that far from all that is familiar, we have recreated a little slice of the ordinary in the tiny space we occupy in this foreign land, with order and regularity, a challenge to the chaos and uncertainty that this adventure has offered us.

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