Cuenca: wks. 11-12


Your brain on field research


It’s ISP season! For those unfamiliar, it’s the Independent Study Project required of all SIT students, for which we travel to separate destinations for four weeks of field study, then complete a 25-30 page essay at the end. It’s not impossible to do gradually, but I personally am not the gradual type. I’m a hare aspiring to be a tortoise. Or maybe just a hare aspiring to be a jackalope, because I imagine the horns slow you down quite a bit.

So I’m halfway through the ISP period, and reaching the point where I need to start writing. It’s the kind of thing you can dance around by doing chunks at a time – acknowledgements, abstract – before making the final investment. Can’t delay for long, though, since I basically need to have it done by the end of this week. Usually students write during the fourth week, but I may be visiting farming families around Cuenca then, so better to do the bulk of it now.

11:10 Cuyes color

Guinea pig: it’s what’s for dinner. (Note: I have not actually eaten guinea pig in Ecuador…yet.)


Vegetables for delivery



In the meantime, this city is fabulous. I see green things every day, and there’s an ice cream shop that’s heavenly. On a normal day I take a bus to the urban agriculture office at 8am, then visit one of the program farms. The primary one, Yanaturo, is where I help with whatever’s happening that day – cutting grass for the guinea pigs (meals, not pets), making compost, planting radishes, etc.

11:2-GraffitiPianoManOn Monday and Wednesday afternoons, I teach English to ten municipal employees; their certified teacher went back to New Mexico, and then they drafted me, so I do my best. I’m going to take this opportunity to implement my personal philosophy of language learning – that no one truly knows a language until they can curse in it. The last day will be a profanity-laced learning adventure.

But it isn’t the last day yet, so we’re learning about grammatical constructions, learning vocabulary and correcting homework errors. Yesterday I took various foods (NUTELLA) to class to teach flavor and texture words. Then my beautiful students took it upon themselves to bring local dishes to class tomorrow. Teaching adults is fabulous.

On a different note, I’m suffering from a touch of the homesickness. Odd, since it hasn’t been a problem for the last two months. I attribute it to the encroaching stress of the ISP (though not as bad as finals at Whitman) and to being without the group I spent the first two months with, sharing our wacky experiences and going on excursions together. To compensate, I ordered books on Amazon that I’ll read during my six-week winter break, and bought a box of crunchy pastries to munch on. Let the essay-writing begin.

Unrelated: I’ve also had many opportunities to expand my “Dogs of Ecuador” series. The following is a small exposition. 11:16-MamaDog2   11:10 TableDogCOLOR11:10-BenchDog11:16-Puppies1


One thought on “Cuenca: wks. 11-12

  1. Love all these photos! And the post. I really like the farm photos because it gives me an idea what you are seeing each day. We miss you a lot and are looking forward to seeing you soon. Love your blog.

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