Monday, February 8, 2010

Quieting Down?

Afternoon Clouds

Today was as quiet a day as I can manage. Eric left before I woke up to join the alumni trip on their way to the Galapagos. I would have loved to have joined him because the alumni take the second half of the eight day route of the Santa Cruz and see a very different picture of the Galapagos than the students do. The two halves present a complete view of the islands, and the best option is to travel for the entire eight days to see almost all there is to see. I feel lucky to have experienced both halves over the course of several years, but it is even better to do the two halves back to back.

My day in Quito was consumed by errands. Maya has a soccer tournament over the next several weeks, so her coach asked me to buy proper soccer shoes. The biggest and best known sports shop is 'Marathon', which was my first destination. Their prices were outrageous and it did not seem right to spent $70 to $150 for a month of soccer games, so I took the Ecovia to the Centro Historico. There are a multitude of stores and markets in the old town. Amparo once took me to a multilevel maze of kisoks near La Merced, so I climbed up from La Marin station and did indeed find affordable soccer shoes. I was confused about which kind to get (for grass or dirt) and hesitant about her size, so I decided to find out about whether she needs big or little cleats and return later in the week. Maya will have to use her slippery running shoes for her practice tomorrow.

I ran up and down the streets in the Centro Historico, wondering why the Spaniards chose to establish their capital in such a hilly part of the valley. Perhaps they wanted to replace the Inca city, perhaps because a lake covered much of the area that is now near Carolina Park. I learned from Marcos (our tour guide for the weekend) that the old town is so well preserved because it was isolated from the rest of the world for hundreds of years. To get to Guayaquil took months, and once there a traveler would have to wait more time to get a boat which would then travel down to the tip of South America and then north to New York or Europe, taking months and months. When steam ships and trains arrived in the 1900's, the city became more aware of what was happening in the outside world, but when the Quiteños wanted to rebuilt and modernize, the Centro Historico had no electricity or gas or water, so it was easier to build a new city nearby. So whereas other cities throughout South and Central America tore down their old buildings and replaced them with new and modern monstrosities, Quito remained as it had been for 500 years, thus becoming a World Heritage Site.

Hills in the Centro Historico

I had to rush home for Amparo and more lessons in medical Spanish. I am feeling more confident about translating for the Orthopedic Surgeons, but I am afraid I am forgetting much of what I learned in my earlier lessons. Going to Spanish class four hours daily for nine weeks was incredibly productive; the scattered hours I am finding here and there currently are not as useful or effective. Yet when studying four hours daily, I felt there was little time for anything else, and I am eager to explore other possibilities now.

It is February and I always make an effort to see all the Golden Globe and Oscar nominees before Oscar night. Very few nominated movies are in the theatres, but I am amazed to find almost every film available in the local DVD store for $1.50 each. I feel a little guilty because they are all pirated versions. I have purchased films that have been videotaped in the movie theatre with the audience laughing and commenting in the background. Lately the Oscar nominated movies I have purchased have been copies of movies sent to 'members of the Academy' to be viewed for consideration of awards. I have looked (not too hard) for legitimate DVD's but have found none. I am staying up late each night watching movies, and this year I will be successful in seeing all the Oscar contenders.

Two Names for each Street

La Merced

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