Well. I can honestly say that tonight may rank as the new #1 most interesting family dinner…I just never know what to expect for my meals here. Tonight, my host mom and brother entered the house at approximately 7:30 p.m. to inform me that we were going to go out for dinner tonight – something that has not occurred since I moved in.
As we all loaded into the car, my brother talked incessantly about the great dinner we were about to experience. He excitedly told me that we were going to a fantastic burger place (an idea that sounded amazing and wonderfully American) and continued to drive toward the center of the city where most of the large malls and shopping centers can be found. We pulled into one of the main parking areas, and he led me toward our destination: Burger King. Yes, Burger King. I could barely constrain the laughter as he told me about these incredible items known as Whoppers, but I have to admit that the taste of fast food was a welcome change from weeks of rice and fruit.
After dinner, my family took me on a walk around the city’s main park, Parque Carolina (typical Ecuadorian schedule…they told me it would be a short trip to grab dinner to go. We left at 7:30 and I returned home from our park adventure at 10:30). Despite a looming pile of class reading back at home, I couldn’t turn down an offer to explore the park. I actually went running with a few friends from the BCA program in the same area last Sunday, and immediately decided it was my favorite place in the city. Each weekend, the park is filled with locals and offers some of the best people watching opportunities available.
Here’s a brief list of some of the things you might see in Carolina on any given Sunday afternoon: every type of sports game imaginable (EcuaVolley, soccer, basketball, you name it), dirt bike tracks, carnival rides, infinite food options (everything from fresh fruit and snow cones to grilled steaks and hot dogs), art displays, running paths, dance performances (yes, there was a flash mob performing last Sunday during my visit), clown acts, skate parks, paddle boats, and even fresh supplies of cotton candy. It’s quite an experience, and it seems the whole city is there to witness it each weekend.
Now, the park was not nearly as active on this Tuesday evening, but it was still a great place to relax after dinner. My family and I wandered around the walking paths and then explored the Jardin de Quindes (Garden of Hummingbirds). Despite its deceptive name, this location is not a garden but rather a spectacular art exhibit. Giant statues of hummingbirds (a bird that appears in several traditional Ecuadorian stories) line the front of the park, and each one is painted by a different local artist. The sculptures are beautifully decorated, and it creates a very unique entrance to the park.
After a bit more walking, we finally returned to the car to pick up my host sister from her night class at the university and (at long last) made it back home. Sort of gives a new meaning to the idea of “fast” food, right? My mom promised to take me to the other famous American restaurant sometime soon, so I’m sure I’ll have more updates to come. She claims it is her personal favorite…KFC.