So I joined a gym back in February in order to ease the suffering of my poor lungs at approximately 9,180 feet above sea level. I’m pleased to report that I can now run for 30 minutes straight at a halfway decent speed! I definitely wasn’t anticipating so much altitude training, but it’s been a good experience overall. The place is pretty ghetto (no surprise there, since I paid $40 for three months!) and populated with lots of muscle men who check out their pecs in the mirror in-between reps. One of the reasons I keep on coming back, though, is my trainer David. Though he has very few skills by way of personal training, he is hilarious and always yelling at me that I’m too “suave” in my abdominal region. So when he wasn’t at the gym mixing up protein shakes all last week, I started to worry. It turns out that he left for another job, taking his sweet Hits of the 70's mix with him. I feel so cheated! I mean, it’s not like he was exactly helping me turn into the next Kara Goucher, but still. I’m heartbroken.
In other news, Olga, Oskar, and I headed to Mindo on Saturday to check out the cheapest ziplines in South America. What a treat! Mindo’s a small town two hours north of Quito with a lot of cool stuff going on – rafting, a butterfly farm, organic coffee farm, horseback riding… Since we only had the day there, we spent our time zooming across the cloud forest in the pouring rain, making friends with the butterflies, and eating. Solid day, even if most if it was spent soaking wet.
Yesterday I went over to Olga’s house to join her in feasting on a homemade cake and to say hi to my old host family. It was so great to chat with Paola, my old/Olga’s current host mom, over tea and catch her up on my project and find out how the family is doing. It’s afternoons like that when I really wish I had a host family – sometimes living at FUDIS can feel a little isolating. But then I talk with other volunteers whose host parents call incessantly asking when they’ll be home, and I’m grateful for the freedom that I have to come and go.