"Every planet has its own weird customs. About a year before we met, I spent six weeks on a moon where the principal form of recreation was juggling geese. My hand to God. Baby geese - goslings! They were juggled."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cold climates and not eating meat

The past couple of weeks, my room hasn't climbed above 60 degrees...which to me, now, is much too warm. It's usually around 52 degrees, which is also a little too cold to sit around in comfort. Sometimes it goes down to 48 degrees or lower, and that's when I wrap my sleeping bag around me at night while I read or knit or do whatever. Sleeping gets uncomfortably warm above 62ish degrees, and when it's below 50, I shiver a bit and pass out...cold.

But today, it's glorious. The sun is shining through high-altitude fair weather clouds, and there's maybe an even amount of blue and white in the sky. This is significant. I'll have my windows open for the first time in weeks to suck in the warm air. "Lindo dia" my host commented. It's unusual for her not to complain about the weather - usually it's too windy or rainy, and she almost daily comments "Ahchachay!" which is in fact a Quichua expression for "It's freaking cold." I always thought it was an Ecuadorian slang phrase (which I'm sure it can be classified as such right now) but it's actually been around for a long while.

Anyways, things just feel more optimistic when you get a nice day; they're rare.

Unfortunately clear skies mean icy-cold nights and, for the first time I ever noticed, there was frost on the ground when I woke up the other morning. My room temp plummeted overnight from 65 to 49 degrees.

(as a funny sidenote, I did go to those hot springs in the mountains. It was mostly cloudy, and in three hours, my shoulders got sunburned. Ouch.)

I have no clever segway into my next topic, being a vegetarian, except that it's both easier and harder than I expected to be one in Ecuador. Easy because, as I'm sure I've mentioned, my phenomenal host family in Tumbaco was already mostly vegetarian so it was (as far as I knew) simple to accommodate me. Plus they never interrogated me in a "are you a moron?" way, just asked me about my beliefs out of curiosity. Tumbaco also has at least two vegetarian restaurants, and one of them is a fantastic, very proud place that serves gourmet meals for $2.50 (soup, tea, huge plate of food, oatmealy drink).

And then there's where I live now. My host is not nearly a vegetarian but she has done her best to accommodate me. She serves me three meals a day, all of them as previously described absolutely gigantic, balanced, and well-made. The first three weeks, she introduced me to everyone as a vegetarian, and everyone gasped in surprise and asked me the questions vegans and vegetarians alike fear in the U.S.: what DO you eat? They list food too. First they start with the meat that isn't meat (at least, not in Ecuador): Do you eat cuyes (guinea pigs)? No. Do you eat chicken? No. Do you eat fish? No. They get so exasperated with all the no's that they start listing everything else: Do you eat rice? Yep. Potatoes? Yep. Beans? Yep. Fruit? Yep. Yes. I eat anything that isn't an animal (except bananas...shudder).

I thought those days were behind me and people got that I'm different in so many ways from them, that I've been here for two months and I haven't died of starvation yet. But the other day, sitting on the bus waiting to go home from Riobamba, the pan man (what I like to call the roving bread vender) picked on me once he discovered I speak Spanish. I had no where to run or hide, so he bombarded me with question after question, eventually ending up on the expected "Do I have a boyfriend?" question. And I hate myself sometimes because I'm too honest, and always say "No." I wish I could just lie and maybe then they'd leave me be. So eventually, somehow, we got on the subject of food and when the conversation got awkward about how he thinks guinea pig is so delicious, I cut it off and mentioned I'm a vegetarian. Why? Oh... well, first because I can't take responsibility for killing animals. And he let out such a laugh. Hint: If you're interested in a girl, genuinely or for a free pass to a foreign country, ought not to laugh at their strongly-held beliefs.

And today is my Riobamba day. In a couple hours, I´ll get back on a bus to ride 1.5 hours back to my site...and so will the pan man. Ugh.


  1. Man, it's really getting cold up there. Time to buy more blankets.