Sunday, October 9, 2011

French toast, birthday parties, and geography

It's been a while since I last posted. I wish I could say I've been busy, but the truth is that I just haven't been thinking about my blog much lately. But I'm back. I've been continuing to go to soccer practices at school. On Friday I assisted two goals. As we enter "winter" here, the biggest change is that it rains most days around 4 p.m. This makes for some wet soccer practices, for we start around 4:30 most days.

The country is still in a bit of a festive mood after playing Venezuela in an elimination match for World Cup qualifiers. They played on Friday in Quito, and everyone was wearing their own Ecuadorian soccer jerseys. They were rewarded with a dominant 2-0 win for Ecuador. The next soccer event is a friendly between the USA and Ecuador on Tuesday in New Jersey. I'm really excited, though I worry I've raised the expectations for USA just a little bit with all of my trash talk. I'm going to the store today to get mini American flags for the special event.

Last weekend I made French toast for my family here. At home in Texas I really like making my own breakfasts on the weekends, so I asked Dori if it'd be alright if I made them breakfast on Saturday. She agreed, so I went out and got the ingredients I could find. On Saturday morning I fried up some bacon and French toast. I kept telling my host family that if they didn't like the breakfast they didn't have to eat it (I was secretly hoping I could eat it all myself), but they enjoyed it! I think one of their favorite parts was the syrup I got at the supermarket for the breakfast. They've been peppering me with questions about maple trees and the Northeast. After I told them about my fellow exchange student who brought New England maple syrup for her host family, they've been angling to get ahold of any real syrup she still has. Miguel and I bet a bottle of maple syrup on Tuesday's soccer match.

Last Sunday was the birthday of Stefania (Dario's wife, Miguel and Dori's daughter-in-law). We had a party for her here. The birthday party was a lot of fun, with really good food and a chance to see family again. Also, there was time to play with Melanie, Dario and Stefania's ten month old baby. Baby Mela, as she's called, is making a run for happiest baby in Ecuador award. Constantly smiling, she gets around in a kind of seat that has wheels on it. She can't quite walk, but she can propel herself on the seat when she wants to get around. She struggles going through doors because the chair is just a little wide. She doesn't seem to mind crashing into everything, though.

At each of the birthday parties I've been to here I've been impressed by the graciousness of the hosts. Each party starts with appetizers, but before anyone is allowed to start eating the host of the party gives a small speech. It's usually no more than three sentences where the host says "Today's a really important day for my ____ (wife, son, daughter-in-law). I thank you all for coming and I hope you enjoy yourselves." On Sunday, Dario departed a bit from the theme to talk about how fortunate he is to have Stefania as his wife.

The only other big part of the week was my completion of my geography project on Thursday. The assignment was to create a model of the Andes that run through the center of Ecuador and mark the major valleys. When the project was assigned I was completely clueless because my teacher used a word for valleys that I didn't know. When I tried to ask for clarification, she used the tried and tested trick of moving closer to me and repeating herself slowly and loudly. Somewhat annoyed at being treated like an idiot, I explained to her that I had heard her the first time, I just didn't know the meaning of the word she was using. After this minor issue I got started on the project.

The project was due on Thursday, and I was a little worried about how I'd turn it in. It's not uncommon for me to have to stand in the doorway of the bus on the way to school, and I was imagining dropping my project on the highway or having it blown away by a gust. I resolved to break the bank and spend $3 on a taxi to school. As a result, I walked to the bus stop and started to wait for taxis. Little did I know that taxis rarely stop for passengers on the highway. After the third empty taxi passed me by I jumped on a bus. My project, which consisted of styrofoam, toothpicks, and wet paint, had hardly any chance of pissing anyone off, right? Fortunately for me, there was an overhead space where I could stow my project until I got to school. All my efforts were rewarded by the 20/20 that I got on my project. It is now proudly displayed on my class's wall.

I hope you all enjoy the photos. I should get going now as I go to buy some American flags. I'm really hoping that USA wins because I don't want to have to spend the $1.35 on another bottle of syrup if I lose my bet!

Everyone together last Saturday for French toast, strawberries, bacon, and syrup.

A model plate, created by chef Jimmy.

The appetizer line-up for Stefania's birthday party.

Miguel in action as he grills up pork chops and chicken wings on his charcoal grill.

Baby Mela sitting with Veronica as they watch Miguel do some grilling.

Stefania and her birthday cake. It was chocolate cake that's served with jello.

My sweet project. It's safe to say that my art skills haven't gotten any better in Ecuador.


  1. If, as you say, your art skills haven't improved markedly in the last month, your cooking gifts continue to impress! That looks to be both a beautiful and tasty breakfast. We'll put maple syrup on the list of things to bring in January.

  2. The Georgetown team name is Hoyas. You ought to consider just submitting your project as your application essay. They'll either reject you outright or assume you've come up with an entirely novel approach to college applications.

  3. Hi Jimmy, we have been checking for your blog to be updated. It's so interesting to hear what you are doing. We love the photos and are hoping you will make that breakfast for us sometime. It looks delicious. We will cheer on the USA soccer team in hopes you don't have to pay out the syrup.

  4. I note that birthday parties are a recurrent theme in your blog. I count three in just over one month.

  5. I am really enjoying the chance to read your blog, Jimmy. It sounds like you're having a pretty amazing time. The breakfast looks great, and your project looks pretty neat, too. Keep the blog entries coming!