A Wayfarer in the Land: Keeping It Classy

By Sarah Masker
Foreign Correspondent

So how many students can cram into one van? Well, a certain Kiplin Hall experience back in 2011 showed that the number is somewhere in the upper teens, and this weekend my geology class’s field trip here in Ecuador led me to the same conclusion.

The professor ordered a bus for 16 for our three-hour long drive to visit some volcanoes and study igneous rocks, but the van that showed up two hours late wasn’t quite made for that many passengers.

So what exactly was the point of our little field trip? The way I saw it, it was an opportunity to jam out to “Backseat” on a long car ride, practice Spanish with the other students and French with the professor, rant about United States politics to foreigners, and of course take endless notes on lava flows. Fun stuff.

What I enjoyed most about the trip was the chance to spend more time with my classmates. It was a little embarrassing when we realized no one knew anyone’s name, even after two months of class together. We ventured so far away from Quito for the field trip we were forced to spend the night at a hostel.
Basically, we studied hard and then played hard; all that notetaking deserved some serious celebrating.

Of course, prior to the trip we all had to sign some form promising good behavior, but that was in Spanish, and who actually reads things like that before signing? I always accept the terms and conditions, just like every other human being I’ve ever met. Imagine my surprise when I learned alcohol consumption wasn’t permitted. Too bad we all came prepared. Too bad our professor stuck his head in the window at 10:30 p.m. and asked what we were doing.

Luckily, Ben is a pretty chill guy, and his French accent makes everything he says ten times better. He turned down the shot we offered him and simply reminded us that we would have a lesson early in the morning, no matter what state we were in by then. We promised to behave and then proceeded to break that promise.

It’s really something to be one of two foreigners playing an Ecuadorian drinking game when no one will explain the rules; I was in a constant state of confusion, but at least I provided the others with some entertainment. This is the part where I remind everyone I’m of a legal age in Ecuador.

The hotel we stayed at has several hot spring pools, so at one point we snuck off and made our selection. Hot springs are pretty much the best thing ever. I’d come up with a simile or metaphor to properly convey how awesome they are, but nothing else even comes close.

On a cold night in the Andes, those pools made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Unfortunately, the hostel doesn’t seem to believe in hot water for the showers; apparently natural springs are just enough for the guests. I suffered through a freezing shower just for the sake of washing my hair, and then I tumbled into bed and thanked my lucky stars none of the weird insects I’d seen earlier were hiding in my sheets.

I showed up late to our 7:30 breakfast the next morning and was actually one of the first to arrive. Given the previous night’s activities, naturally we were all thrilled to drive around and talk about igneous rocks, lava domes, and viscous magma. At least a real bus had showed up in the middle of the night, so we all got our own seats instead of enjoying another cuddle sesh like the day before.

Based on my experience with this whole class-field-trip-overnight-in-a-hotel thing, I have to wonder how many more years it will run. Sure, I learned a lot about rocks and lava flows, but I also learned my fair share of Ecuadorian drinking games.

As much as we complained about having to go to “class” on the weekend, I think it’s fair to say we all had a pretty fun time. No one danced on tables…that must be a Kiplin Hall thing. We had our fun, but we sure did keep it classy.

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