Monday, January 19, 2009

Birthday Morning Blues and other Musings

So today I turn the big 2-1. Thats right, legal drinking age in the land of the free [though clearly I've been legally eligible to fight wars in Iraq for the last 3 years of my life...oh logic. I could potentially have died by terrorist insurgent bombs never having sipped a beer (legally that is...)]. Anywho, as per the title, yes this has not been the very best birthday morning of my life, but surely it will be a memorable one. Last night we arrived home from our weekends journey--- which had taken us from the snow capped peak of the highest active volcano in the world, Cotapaxi, to the Quichwa tribe of Los Salasaca (where i aqcuired upwards of 75 gnarly looking bug bites)---around 9pm, only 5 hours later than our ETA of 4pm. Ecuador time, its something you just have to get used to! Anyway, that 9pm arrival felt more like 3am after our exhausting weekend travels so when I got home i could barely keep my eyes open to do the 90 pages of reading due for my Society and Gender class. Balls.

---Insert. I forgot to mention that our weekend travels took us to great altitudes and down into deep valleys. I entered the trip with a growing cold/sinus infection which I think aided the intense ear-popping I went on to experience. Now, let me tell you something. I packed tons of medicine-advil, imodium, vitamins, airborn you name it. But somehow I forgot sudafed. AND DAMN WERE MY EARS POPPING. I Think it was a product of having usch a stuffy nose but they never unpopped and I was pretty much deaf teh whole weekend. It felt like i was under water...or, remote, you might say (lolz dad). ----

When I woke up to the sound of fighting dogs this morning at 645, I was disappointed to note that not only were my ears still plugged shut, but I was sort of getting used to being deaf. This was mildly disconcerting and I pondered a trip to the Univ. Health Clinic as I rolled out of bed. I went to brush my teeth and shower quickly in hopes that I could sneak in some skimming of the reading before i got to school (thoug i find skimming to be quite ineffective when reading in Spanish). Much to my dismay I found that "la luz se fue" (the lights were out) which means, alas, NO HOT WATER! I flipped the switch on the elctronic generator anyway, hopeing somehow the water would heat up without electricity but when I turned on the water it was ICY. I am talking ARCTIC CHILL here. So, what i was hoping would be a quick shower turned into a 30 minute escapade in which i would turn the water on at a trickle for about 20 seconds to wet the body part i wanted to wash, then turn teh water off, jump around a little to regain feeling in my extremities and soap up. Then turn the icy water back on to a trickel for 10 seconds to "wash off" the soap (though i am positive a film of dried body wash remained afterwards). Somewhere in the middle of this process I realize I wont be able to dry my hair... Blast! I should've stayed dirty!

Alright, so its my birthday, i'm in another country far away with no warm water, deaf ears, no way to dry my freezing hair and I'm ill prepared for my classes. Not a good way to start the day. And the first text message I get this morning is from a friend from the Armenian Students Associaiton at PSU telling me happy bday but the ASA is falling apart without me. Shiza!

Don't feel too bad for me b/c after this the day starts to perk up:
I got coco puffs for breakfast!!! I had to eat them with boiling hot whole milk though which was kind of weird, but it was definitely an upgrade. I also got marmelada de guayaba with my bread this morning, mmmm. And my host mom gave me a big hug and besito (smooch) and said happy birthday! For the most part that cheered me up but it kind of also just made me miss my mom (hi mom!!) because nothing is like a hug and kiss from your mama, you know? So then i got misty eyed reminiscing about mom hugs and had to go pretend to arrange my bookbag in my bedroom.

Anwyay, so that's sort of where I'm at right now. Tonight the host fam has planned some birthday festivities and all the kids from Lumbisi are invited so hopefully that will be fun. I just hope we dont have to eat cuy(guinea pig), the ecuadorian delicacy we got to try this weekend with Los Salasaca! I am Pretty excited though b/c my neighbor in Lumbisi bakes delicious cakes and I think she might make one for my bday! Hooray!

Ok, now that i'm done complaining about my deafness and my cold water I'ma give you a quick list of random crap I noted last week about my life here:

1. I no longer know the difference between a Lemon and a Lime. Here they call both fruits "limon" but theyre both green and I'm very confused adn when the give me lemonada (lemonade) it is actually limeade. Shout out to Ani who I think would be very pleased with this abundance of limade, it is quite delicous.

2. On the busride (i.e. tiny van ride crammed with 20 people) this weekend our trip leader, Maria Teresa handed out some delicious banana chips that, to my delight, were marked with (U) Kosher symbol! It made me reminiss happily about all my jewish lower merion friends :)

3. Last thursday we had a power outage. I dont just mean any sort of mini power outage I'm talking about a Serious, country wide power outage. Last thursday night all of Ecuador's electricity went out because the workers had a huelga (strike). It was kind of awesome but kind of crazy. Kelsey and Zack and I were getting ready to go out to la mariscal in quito where all the discotecas are and we were walking to the bus stop around 8 at night (at least an hour after the sun set) when all the street lights and everything went black. Blackest black night ever in my life, we were just enveloped. It was so dark i couldn't see my hadn in front o fmy face and suddenly we heard teh dogs start barking! I dont know if we've made it clear to you yet in our blog but the dogs in lumbisi are CRAZY! Especially at night! They roam teh streets in packs trying to attack you so we made a run for it to the bus stop tripping and stumbling by the weak light of our cell phones. Ayayay! Needless to say I didnt end up goign out that night.

4. Ok this ones for dad. Saturday when we visited Cotapaxi, we drove in this sketch van all the way up the mountain, winding our way along skinny unpaved mountainside roads covered in snow. As the roads got steeper the van began to slip and slide nearly careening over the edge of the mountain. We were only a few hundred feet from our destination, El Refugio, where we had been planning on eating lunch but the bus driver said NO WAY and made us all get out. We then walked around in the snow and deathly high altitude with our ill prepared clothing, some friends only in sandals! It was pretty awesome though. But finally we got back in the van which backed down the snowy cliff a little ways until the driver decided to pull an Austin Powers and do a 90 point turn ON THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN THOUSANDS OF FEET IN TEH AIR. I pretty much was having a panic attack and gripping Alexis' leg with all of my might. I'm not sure how we made it through but somehow we did. Phew!

Alright, this post is long enough, I gotsta go get myself some almuerzo. I'll leave the telling of the rest of our weekend adventures up to Kels.

<3 Nikki


  1. Happy Birthday, Sweet Nikki! What an adventure you had this weekend. I'm sure Grandmom will be thrilled when she reads about it! She and G-Pop say HI and Happy Birthday, too, and gave me a big 21st B-day gift for you. If your ears are still deaf, and you can find that Sudafed (which I know we packed for you), take if for the next day or two and it should help. I love you lots!

  2. Oh wow. That's ridiculous. We'll re-celebrate your birthday, US-style, upon our return. I'm going to Russia tomorrow (eek!) so hopefully I'll be able to start actually contributing to the blog scene.

  3. that zimmern guy was in ecuador eating the guinea pigs he said the brain is the best. gross! hey you should where one of the traditional ecuadorian hats! guayaba es lo mejor, me encanta eat the actual fruit it's even better

  4. I figured out how to comment! Finally! I didn't get into the SHC for nothing...

    The 90 point turn sounds really dangerous and really hilarious...I can almost see the look of fear on your face haha. Glad you made it out alive!