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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Cuenca in general

Classes went well today. They start at 7:45, and I get done about 1:45, so its a long day. My group for class is the hippie girl from California (who apparently is participating in No Shave Armpits in 2007....gross. More to come on her later), a girl/woman from Switzerland who is really funny and speaks English (as well as probably 4 other languages) and a guy from Switzerland about my age named Raban. He speaks 4 languages. I am amazed at these Europeans!!

Anyways, in classes today, two funny stories: We were talking about the lottery in our state or country, and the prof. ask hippie girl (erika) about a lottery in California. Erika launches into a spiel (in spanish) about how she only uses cash, so the government cant watch her. Its very corrupt since 9-11 and they like to keep tabs on everyone, so she refuses to leave a trail for them! Hahaha. Also, she is a secretary at a place where they make organic foods like Nutbutter......

During culture class the director spoke to us about the fauna and animals of the Andes and I couldnt help but get distracted. He has a large gap in his bottom two front teeth. I dont think he is missing teeth, I think it is a large gap. Everytime he says a certain consanent, his tongue pokes through and looks like a snake....random, I know. I just didnt learn as much as I should have since I kept getting distracted!

Ok, a little about Cuenca. Its a very interesting town. The area was originally settled by the Inca hundreds of years ago as a northern capital of their empire. It was called Riobamba. With the coming of Cortez to Mexico, and the eventual colonization of all of South America by Spain and Portugal, this area was settled by the Spanish, who tore down many of in Incan structures and began to build on top of them. There are churches here that still have the incan blocks at the bottom that you can see, with white stucco and blocks on top of that when they built the new churches. When the Spanish came in and settled Cuenca, they carefully planned the city structure to be the ¨perfect city¨and it is very planned-looking. There are 4 rivers, and the city lies in between 3 of them, forming its boundaries. The southern river, Riobamba, was originally the southern boundary, and it remained this way for a couple of hundred years. It wasnt until the 1950s that the Cuencanos spilled over this limit and began settlign the area on the south side of the river, outside of the original plan. However, it is still very evident, as the ├Âld city¨and the ¨new city¨have markedly different structures.

To get to school each day, I walk about four blocks north through the new city, and cross a park, also in the new city, then cross the river into the old city. There are about 5 sets of steps up into the old city, and the school is situated near the top of the steps. Its a nice walk, once I get into the park. Otherwise, its nothing grand.

Anyways, theres your history lesson for today!! I need to go though, because I am watching a movie at school in about an hour, and I need to eat before then! -Lauren

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