Living near Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa is a great advantage. When there is a soccer game, the streets are full of colourfully clad fans streaming into the stadium, and from our window we hear the shouts and chants and cheers when goals are made or almost made or missed. Ecuadorians are devoted soccer aficionados and most Quiteños have a favourite team be it Liga de Quito, Deportivo Quito or El Nacional. There is also an Ecuadorian national team and at least two teams from Guayaquil (Barcelona and Emelec) and teams from Cuenca and Esmeraldas and more (twelve teams in all!). All of them have the opportunity to play at Atahualpa Stadium. Fans wear the colours of their favourite team and crowd Quicentro and the streets around our building.
Several soccer players live in our building. Our next door neighbour plays for Barcelona (the team trains in Quito because of the altitude). They are distinguishable because they are young and well built and they all drive gorgeous cars, which fill our garage. It is unusual to see Mercedes and BMWs and Humvees in the streets of Quito; most of them are parked under the building.
Huge concerts play at the stadium, so it is not unusual for us to experience the concert from our open windows, the screaming and applause and the incredibly loud sound systems. Ecuadorians generally like their music LOUD and the bonus for us is that we need not pay the $50 to $100 to fight the crowds in the stadium, we hear it all from the comfort of our living room!
The disadvantage is that the streets are packed with cars and if we drove cars, we would be frustrated trying to get in and out of Republica del Salvador. Luckily we take public transportation almost exclusively, so we don't experience the bumper to bumper traffic in the same way.
I am enjoying the concert this evening, although I am not sure what sort of music I am listening to. My neighbours are partying downstairs and enjoying the music and singing along with the band, drowning out the voices from the stadium, but not quite obscuring the sound system, which must be deafening for the concertgoers. For Ecuadorians clearly louder is better, and I have become accustomed to the high volume of sound preferred. Maya usually covers her ears, but I am amazed that she is sleeping now, quite oblivious to the noise outside her window.
I've had a busier than intended day, organizing our next weekend in Mindo. My friend Emily (from Baltimore) will be here tonight for a five day stay, and I have decided that we will visit the cloudforest on the western slope of the Andes, which is different from the eastern slopes where I have been several times. Everyone who visits Mindo raves about it. Friends had recommended all sorts of possibilities, but I wanted to be super frugal without missing too much. I decided to spend about a sixth of the most expensive two day one night stay I was quoted, so I am crossing my fingers that it will work out for us. Maya, Emily and I will take a bus early Saturday morning to meet school friends of Maya so we can all go ziplining and perhaps tubing together, then if it does not rain we will explore on foot. Sunday is Mother's Day, so Eric will join us midday so we can all go to Tulipe and explore the archeological ruins and celebrate the day 'en famille'.
For travel information, I find my way to the Mariscal, where travel agencies abound. I get overwhelmed with too much choice, and have a stack of pamphlets in my bag, so I think I know as much about Mindo as anyone. It was easier to make a decision when I discovered that Lucia was going with her family tomorrow night and Maya will enjoy herself even more if she is with children.
Going to buy tickets to Lima was an incredible time commitment. I had been to the TACA office Tuesday when I had booked the tickets, and when I went to buy them yesterday, the doors to the office were closing just as I arrived. I returned today early in the morning and took a ticket to wait for my turn. I was called almost immediately, and the process was simple and clear, but took over an hour. I am not sure why or how it was complicated, but I have decided that everything in Ecuador takes more time because there is more time and people have more time. No one is rushing anywhere or making an effort to get things done quickly. There simply is no reason to go more quickly. Such a different experience than I am accustomed to at home. I have certainly learned to take my time, give others time, get less stressed about time. Life just happens anyway, no need to push it along.
I was able to sandwich an hour in a museum today. I wanted to return to the Mindalae museum in the Mariscal. Its focus is on indigenous peoples and folklore. I wanted to congratulate myself with knowing so much more about Ecuador than I did when I first visited the museum., but I felt less confident after my visit. I certainly know more about the Amazonian cultures, and about the ancient peoples, but I was frustrated that I am still confused about the traditional dress of many of the native Andean groups. I am more aware now of all the places I have not visited and most likely will not have a chance to visit during my year in Ecuador. I wish I could have a car and drive around the country and visit each village; I think that would be the best way to know the country and its people. I feel that I have seen alot, but my experience has been limited for all sorts of reasons. I need more time in Ecuador, I am not ready to go home!