No more lessons!

Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
Trip End Jan 03, 2009

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Friday, September 26, 2008

My last day of Spanish lessons today - my notebook says I have learnt a lot in the past two weeks, if only I could remember it all at the appropriate times! Hopefully now all I need is practice.

Yesterday, instead of Mariana coming to the hotel for the class, I visited her house, in a neighbourhood about 20mins by bus from the Old Town.  Her barrio is semi rural, and so much quieter than bustling Quito, with noticeably cleaner air.  Her house is surrounded by little farms, and she has a fantastic view of the mountains from her back yard.  We had the first part of the lesson in the little cottage behind her house, where she gives both Spanish and English lessons, and then moved the table into the garden for the second half.  It was really nice.
After class, Mariana invited me to lunch.  Her husband had cooked an amazing feast of baked chicken, corn, beans, roast potatoes and fresh salad.  It was delicious.  It was nice to meet Marianaīs family, and her pet dogs Lucas and gorgeous little Negrito who is only a couple of months old and SO cute!

So with lessons over, I am now officially on the sightseeing trail.  On my last night in Quito (for a while at least), I went with Mariana and her daughter to see a concert of traditional Ecuadorian music and dancing, which was being held in a nearby plaza.  It was a fantastic show, with lots of colourful costumes and some lively dances, and of course, the wonderful andean music that I really love.  I am going to have to try to buy a good set of pan pipes before I leave. Itīs a truly beautiful instrument.  Although there were a few tourists, the audience was mostly locals, and it was a great atmosphere, and the pride these people have in their country is evident.  Even more so this evening I guess because this weekend is a very important one in Ecuador. On Sunday, the people will vote in a referendum to accept/ reject a new constitution which has been drawn up by the recently elected government.
I donīt claim to understand much about the changes being proposed, but they are wide ranging, and I gather the overall theme is to improve access to health and education for ALL people in Ecuador, and aims to promote social justice.  Most people I speak to, especially the poorer people, are overwhelmingly in support of the new constitution, but there are a few naysayers, mostly the more affluent members of society who donīt necessarily want change, and I understand that one of the proposed changes involves legal recognition of same-sex unions, which I guess may stir a few emotions in a country that is over 90% catholic. Every day this week, there have been demonstrations and rallies around the city, and political "fiestas" at night with music and fire crackers! Itīs certainly an interesting time to be in Ecuador.
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