Friday, September 20, 2013

Final Stop: Cuenca

Final stop of Ecuador, that is.  I'm pretty ready to leave the country... I'm getting so sick of the food here, which seems to consist entirely of white rice, a greasy chicken leg that's mostly skin, iceberg lettuce, and lots and lots of bananas, bananas everywhere, even in the soup.  If I never see another banana, I'll die a happy woman, but somehow I doubt that's going to be the case.

But otherwise, Cuenca is hands down the loveliest place I've seen in Ecuador yet and I'm sorry I didn't come here first.  I'm not sure whether it's spring or autumn here, because there are trees covered in flowers and then there are trees dropping yellow leaves tragically into the brook.  It's always chilly and often drizzly, with these great, brooding overcast skies which reminds me of Dublin.  And every corner you turn you stumble upon this great, century-old stone cathedral, monastery, or otherwise magnificent work of colonial architecture.

There are tons of tiny parks and cobblestone plazas hidden away between the streets, where people are selling things, roasting guinea pigs over open coals, or just sitting around watching people go by.  As always, there are tiny old women charging up and down hills and staircases with enormous bundles on their backs, with their fedora hats and long braids and colorful, embroidered skirts.

Otherwise, on a stop-off in Guayaquil to fix my camera (dropped it in the sand and all the gears froze up, urgh...) a Canadian girl in my hostel gave me the first book in the Game of Thrones series.  After two days of reading it I'm already a third of the way through the 800 page book, and I have very mixed feelings about it.  It's not the greatest writing, and I normally don't like to invest in reading a book unless it has prose and a story-line that will help me improve as a writer.  I swear, if I had to read the sentence, "Jon messed up Arya's hair," one more time, I was going to tear the book in half.  Also, good god, we get it.  WINTER IS COMING.  Shut up about it already.

And yet... I'm having so much fun reading it.  I may be too much of a book snob for my own good, and I think maybe the decline in my fiction reading over the past few years is (aside from no longer being a student with all the free time in the world) because I make it a point to choose books that are onerous to read.  But Game of Thrones is so evocative in showing you the world, and the characters are so interesting - the female characters are all strong and complex as well, which I appreciate, and of course a tomboy princess with a pet wolf is just great.  It's making me want to go back to the fantasy novel I've been cyclically writing, abandoning, and revamping for the past 15 years or so.  I've always considered multiple point-of-view narration to be shoddy writing, but I've seen it done well in the past, and there's so many more facets of a story you can tell than with just a single narrator.  And I've already written five pages of a prologue, so we'll see how this goes.

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