Saturday, August 11th
Today I slept in and took it easy during the afternoon. Then in the evening I went with my host family to Fiesta de La Luz, a 5-day celebration for “el primer grito de la independencia” (“the first cry of independence”) which occurred el 10 de agosto in 1809. Unfortunately, this first cry of independence was ultimately unsuccessful and did not result in independence, but they celebrate it more than their actual day of independence, because they are so proud of the effort/intention and the fact that they were the first South American country to try to gain independence.
Fiesta de la Luz was incredible. First of all, there were so many people you could barely move. I have never seen that many people in one place at the same time. Also, everyone was so excited! They shut down almost the entire historic center for five nights, and all the streets are for pedestrians only. There were fourteen different sites, mostly churches and plazas, with spectacular light displays. I don’t know how to describe it! I will post some pictures below. I also took a 6-minute video of the entirety of one of the spectaculars, but of course it won’t upload. Here’s a video from youtube though, so you can get the idea.
Unfortunately, after taking the video my phone died, and of course Vicente and I got separated from Pilar and her sister Sofia who came with us. We waited for a while, but there was really no hope of finding them as big as the space was and as many people as there were. But Vicente and I had a fun night. He introduced me to many new typical Ecuadorian foods, including pristiñas con miel (kind of like funnel cake, served with honey) and also morocho (a delicious creamy corn drink served with empanadas de queso. The only sad part is that there was not enough time to see all fourteen of the light spectaculars!
Sunday, August 12th
Today I slept in and then did some laundry. It is still exciting for me to hang it on the line outside to dry, I feel like I’m in a movie!
I forgot to mention last week that one of the ladies from my choir gave me 2 passes to see a traditional dance performance by a group called Jacchigua. I took Paige with me, and we had a great time! It was incredible to see all the beautiful traditional outfits and dances.
I went to mass at the church right across the street from our house. The tiny differences are so interesting. Of course, the sequence and readings and prayers are all the same, but there is just a different feel to the mass, and their “Catholicsthenics” (sitting/standing/kneeling sequences) are a little different. I love how everybody sings all the hymns here. Also, this church had a screen with the songs, which was actually very helpful. What was not helpful was that every slide had about 20 moving graphics, ranging from dancing music notes to a Jesus rapidly kneeling and praying over and over again. It was so funny; I really wanted to take a picture, but refrained. Maybe next time I go. These slides are the most overwhelming things I have ever seen!
Tonight I got to meet a girl named Alyson, who worked at Sinamune and lived with Pilar and Vicente a year and a half ago. She was visiting with her family, and it was cool to spend some time with them and get to know them. Alyson also said that she was at Sinamune during the school year and had an excellent experience, so that gives me hope for September!