Our First Visitors

So as I said in the Thanksgiving post, my family came down to visit this past week. I, unfortunately, was not very diligent about taking photos and did not remember to steal my mom’s before she left, but I will make do with what I have…..

We picked them up from the airport on Thursday night and it was a mad house!!! There were so many people we could barely walk around and I had to shove past people and state loudly, “Es mi hermano!!” when I finally saw them just so that I could get through the crowd to intercept them. We brought them back to the house and forced them to marvel over our view of the city and then we all headed to bed. We are fortunate to have two extra bedrooms for guests, but that still meant that David had the couch….or the floor as he later chose.
The view from our living room
David’s bed…and apparently Frijole’s bed as well

Friday morning, Alex and I had to work, so I had arranged for a Spanish lesson for everyone. My Spanish teacher, Sofia, comes to our house to give me classes once a week so I organized for her to come Friday and give everyone a few hours of the most important stuff so that they would feel more comfortable around the city. I think everyone had a great time and felt like they learned a lot.
Friday afternoon we dragged everyone to los Hot Dogs del Gonzalez Suarez so they could see what we have been raving about. And then we headed down to the market to stock up for dinner. We spent the afternoon lounging around the house and hanging out before making dinner. We also headed to bed pretty early since Saturday was going to be a big day!
Mom eating a hot dog

Thanksgiving dinner

7:30 came pretty early on Saturday as the bus we had rented arrived to pick us up and take us to Otavalo. One of the bus drivers from the school agreed to drive us wherever we wanted for a bit of a fee which proved to be much more comfortable than taking the regular bus. We stopped at the equator on the way to shopping heaven. There are actually two places to visit the equator in Ecuador….la Mitad del Mundo has the huge monument and tourist shops and was built a loooong time ago. Turns out that back then their calculations were a little off and that equator is about 240 m wrong. So someone else has attempted to create a tourist spot at the “real” equator. It’s not nearly as big or exciting, but we still felt it was worth a stop….plus it was a good excuse to get out of the bus and use the bathroom.
Mitad del Mundo Numero Uno
The next stop was Otavalo where we went a little crazy doing all of our Christmas shopping. Everyone practiced their bargaining and it was fun to watch Aunt Kathy interact with all the weavers. There was a bit of miming, a bit of Spanish, and a bit of English…plus a whole photo album of looms and weaving was procured.
Kathy and a weaver dude
After lunch in Otavalo, we headed to Cotacachi…a town known for its leather. Dad and Kathy chilled in the plaza while the rest of us tried to focus on more purchasing. Having done this twice now I am starting to see a pattern of being totally fried by the time we arrive in Cotacachi. But don’t worry….I pushed through it and ordered a pair of boots. The ones in my size weren’t the color I wanted so instead they are special ordering them and will deliver them to my house in Quito when they’re done!! Sweet! That was our only major purchase since this is what Alex wanted to buy:
Furry chaps!??!
After an exciting and exhausting day, we headed home to admire our purchases and eat some crockpot soup that nearly cost me and mom our lives. Seriously, I think I’ll have the scar to prove it…..stupid carrots.
Lots and lots of stuff!!

Mom went a little crazy with the finger puppets

Since we didn’t want anyone to have too long to rest, we got up early again on Sunday morning and headed for the Teleferiqo. This is something I hadn’t done before so I was pretty excited. The teleferiqo is a cable car that takes you partway up Pichincha, one of the mountains on the edge of the city. From the top you have a beautiful view of the whole city and you have a chance to hike the rest of the way up the mountain. Unfortunately the clouds were not quite cooperating with us and when we first got to the top of the cable car ride all we could see were clouds. But he set out on the hike to the top anyway and as we went things began to clear a little. None of us summitted, but considering the nearly 15,000 foot altitude I was proud of all of us for hiking at all. It was especially nice to be breathing some super clean air.
Ready to head out

We met some other hikers who joined us because Alex is an excellent guide

Monday was highly entertaining since we brought everyone to school with us! My kids were super excited to meet my family and were constantly shouting hello whenever we walked through the halls. I dragged everyone around on the “tour” which consisted of stopping in a lot of rooms and offices to introduce people. Everyone was super warm and welcoming and it made me proud to be able to show off both my family and my school. Throughout the day, Dad sat in on a science class, Mom sat in on one of Alex’s Theory of Knowledge classes, and everyone got to witness the spectacle that is me teaching Art. My kids were a bit wound up, but they still enjoyed showing off their projects to my family.
After school, we headed to the fancy Mitad del Mundo. Why come to Ecuador and go to just one equator photo opportunity when you could go to two?! It was pretty empty since it was a chilly, windy Monday afternoon so we nearly had the place to ourselves. We got goofy taking pictures with one foot in each hemisphere, then browsed the shops a little and had some ice cream before heading home.
Mitad del Mundo Numero Dos

Walkin’ the line

On Tuesday, the fam headed out on their own while Alex and I went to work. They explored Old Town and managed to be up at the top of the basilica when a huge thunderstorm hit! After the rain let up, we took them to Crepes and Waffles for dinner. They hadn’t seen the mall yet so we figured it was time, plus Crepes and Waffles is delicious!! We spent the rest of the evening helping them pack everything up and just enjoying each other’s company before they hopped in a taxi for the airport early Wednesday morning.
La Basilica

David’s still here. He doesn’t go home until Monday so we have been lucky to have some extra time with him. All the extra things we’ve done will have to be for another post though because this is practically a novel already.
If you’re thinking of coming to visit (which you should be!) the above activities are just the tip of the iceberg! We would love to put you up in one of our two extra bedrooms with some cats that will sleep on your face. We even have sheets for those beds now that my family brought them down! Just let us know when and we will be happy to plan a jam-packed itinerary for you too!

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