1. Go to all of Ecuador’s 24 provinces.
Check! I went hiking in the jungle in Morona Santiago in January (pics here). I spent Easter weekend in the rainforest in Sucumbios (pics here). I visited Incan ruins in Cañar in April (pics here). I gave a workshop in Carchi in April. That meant I was just missing Los Rios province, which doesn’t really have any tourism. So with just over a week left in the country, I hopped a Friday afternoon bus to that province, stayed overnight, and came back to Quito the next morning. Quick, but it counts! ALL 24 PROVINCES – WOO HOO!
2. Further improve my Spanish.
Check, más o menos. I took 50 more hours of Spanish lessons. I’m controlling time frames much better than I used to, including using (and sometimes over-using) the dreaded subjunctive. I still make a ton of mistakes and my fluency is lousy, but several people have told me that I speak with a Quito accent. So yes, my Spanish has improved, although it’s far from perfect.
3. Further improve my salsa dancing.
Check! I continued to go salsa dancing on a weekly basis, plus I took a few hours of private lessons at my old dance school, ENB. Here’s a sample from one of my lessons:
5. Go to a professional soccer match.
Fail. The only games I ever heard about in advance were World Cup qualifying matches for the national team. Apparently, that’s kind of a big deal, so tickets are nearly impossible to get. Oh well, I’m not really into soccer anyway.
6. Make a list of “things sold on the street.”
Check! The most interesting items I saw hawked on the street:
– balsa wood toy models
– plastic animal banks
– TV remote controls
– coconut juice
– chocolate bars
– incense sticks
– back scratchers
– corn on the cob (raw)
– grilled plantains with cheese
– deep fried empanadas
– feather dusters
– soccer jerseys (mostly just on game days)
– lottery tickets
– hookers (yeah, prostitution is legal in Ecuador)
– sewing kits
– tea towels
7. See a bomba performance.
Check! I attended a conference in Imbabura province, where this Afro-Ecuadorian dance/music is from. The university hired a bomba band to perform during the event.
8. Find a new job.
Check! (Whew!) I will be returning to Venezuela August 6-18 to work as an English Language Specialist. Then I’ll start my new position as a Teaching Specialist in the University of Minnesota’s English Language Program in Minneapolis.
So, 7/8 is pretty good. Now, what should I do for the rest of 2013?