I don't know where to begin on the update of our weekend activities, so I'll just take a running leap into the narrative.
Firstly, how about them redskins? I really didn't think they'd be able to pull off a win in Dallas - let alone beat the Eagles after starting the game down by two touchdowns. I learned something very important this weekend about the cable network, too. As far as I can tell, they only show one game on Sundays - and it's usually the Miami game. Even though the major networks (NBC, CBS, Fox) are on the cable network here, they have a different lineup than in the US. I find the whole thing terribly confusing, and I've come to the resignation that I won't be able to watch most of the games in the ensuing weeks, which kind of sucks.
Secondly, we took a quick, or what was meant to be quick, drive out to Yanococha on Saturday. This is a nature preserve/bird watching sanctuary just on the other side of Pichincha - the big volcano that demarcates the Western border of Quito. It's supposed to be an hour drive away, but we kept getting lost, and having fun doing so, and ended up taking closer to three hours or so to get there. It's amazing how different the environment is on the other side of the mountain. We went from mostly dry and barren to, in my mind, the theoretical ideal of a cloud forest. We were cloaked in fog, light rain, or general moisture the entire time we were at the park. Very steep inclines, overgrown with ferns, moss and a fecundity of green-ness. I'll post pictures below. We saw an amazing number of humming birds, and heard the call of other birds out in the trees. The park maintainers have humming bird feeders along the trail, which detracts from the "natural" feel of the place but does a great job of attracting swarms of birds near enough to see.
I never realized that humming birds actually make a humming sound when they're flying around. A group of them sort of sound like a light saber fight out of star wars when they're flitting around, chasing each other.
Due to some kind of translation mix up, we were led to understand that the trail was a loop, and not a "go in. take in the sights, then walk back the way you came" kind of trail. This misunderstanding, and our general stubborness and inability to retrace our steps led us to walk down a whole series of hobbit sized tunnels and continue our trek farther than we had intented. After a 2 hour hike, we ended up in some weird, post-apocalyptic water collection and re-direction type project, out in the middle of nowhere. I couldn't figure out how someone, at some time, had brought all the stuff used to create the various cisterns, channels, levers and pipes out to the middle of nowhere. It was all a bit surreal, and made for an adventure - maybe not the adventure we had originally thought we were embarking upon, but an adventure nonetheless.
We made it home on Saturday afternoon, wet, muddy, and tired - and in one (or two, to be specific) piece.
On Sunday, we got to experience one of those traditional latin lunch events, when the whole family, in this case the Politz's, family friends of A's, comes together for the afternoon and hangs out. It's like Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, at least in relation to how we do it up in the US, and they do it here every week.
The rest of the day was spent running errands. All in all, it was a good time.