Wow, what a great weekend! Principal, small town two and a half hours northeast of Cuenca is home to women who establsihed a farming, trout, and weaving cooperative in 2001. Our visit there began with a two-hour hike around the town. The hike was gorgeous. Principal is situated at a significantly higher altitude than Cuenca, so directly in the mountains was where we were placed. I will hopefully photos soon. Then we we were treated to a huge meal of trout, vegtables from their garden, fruit, and fruit smoothies...all products from their land. Although we did not have the opportunity to see much of their garden coopaertive as a result of the rainfall received the night before, we did have the pleasure of seeing products made from their weaving work. Baskets, hats, placemats, lampshades...you name it they made it beautifully. The original intention in creating a weaving coop was to remove the intermediary, the middle man who supplied the town with the plant and the dye used for their projects. This intermediary would take the majority of the profits leaving virtually no monetary reimbursement to the women of this town. I purchased four items, three small basket and a larger own as well. We departed from Principal extremely exhausted but really enlightened by the women we met. After we arrived into Cuenca, I was ravenous! When I become hungry I become slightly irritable. The majority of my group was returning to their homes for dinner, this held little appeal. You see, over the past two weeks, I have grown increasingly disenchanted with the food. Although I adore my host family, I have yet to experience a meal that I have found fully satisfying or a meal that has held strong appeal. I often feel like I have to give myself internalized pep talks as I am eating, "okay, you can do this, two more bites" or "how can this dish relate to something I have eaten before?" "I wish I could plug my nose". I realize the candid nature of my thoughts and realize their potential to be perceived as disrespectful, ignorant, impatient, and highly insensitive. I have tried and successfully eaten EVERYTHING on my plate that has been served to me. It is difficult to avoid eating meat when it is served with almost every meal, I rarely eat meat in the States so the transition to eating it as often as I am obligated to leaves me feeling less then thrilled to partake in meals with my family. Which is incredibly unfortunate, as it is designed to be a special time for connecting. So getting back to the original story, I returned from Principal on Saturday to find only a few students not intending to return home for dinner, I asked them if they wanted to join me for dinner elsewhere and fortunately they obliged. We found this GREAT Italian restaurant where I ordered a huge bowl of pasta alfredo...I ate it rapidly and didn´t look back...it was absolutely delectable.
I know I am terrible person for disclosing this...but you know something I don´t care, hahaha, becuse truthfully if anything it has granted a heightened understanding and value of food. I have never been in a position in my life in which I have had no control over what I am consuming and how much I am consuming. This experience has challenged my patience, flexibility, appetite, and weight. I have lost 10 pounds since my arrival.
In addition to the Italian meal I had on Saturday, some friends and I went to a sport bar located about 20 minutes from my home to partake in SuperBowling! It was so much fun despite the Bears´loss to the Colts. I there also chose to order a large meal and despite my usual emotional response being guilt to such circumstances and to such disclosures of frustration, I am choosing otherwise.
I now have to head to the orhanage...
Thank you for allowing me to share.