O' Christmas Tree

Last weekend, Ronnie and I went with our friends Sara and Paul to find a Christmas tree. Originally, we heard that you could get a real tree at Parque Carolina. We went to Carolina to check out the selection, but we just weren't happy with what they had so we had pretty much decided to get an artificial tree. Paul mentioned that his gardener would be taking him to a tree farm to get a tree , so we decided to check this out before we bought the artificial tree. They were the same kind of trees at Carolina, but more selection and MUCH cheaper! We pulled up to a little farm, selected the tree we wanted and the owner began chopping away...

This was the one for us. They were all a little "shaggy", but we figured they'd clean up well. Not bad for only $15!
Ronnie helping cut the roots off.
Loading it into the car.
Once we got the tree home, Ronnie hosed it off outside, then we let it dry overnight. It was really dusty and had quite a few bugs living in it. The next day we had to go buy a tree stand. The stands here are a little different than what we had in the States. They're made of metal (or wood) and don't have a place to hold water. We ended up sticking a plastic bowl underneath ours. This was our first attempt at setting in in place. :)
Once we got it straightened, Ronnie starting trimming it. Unfortunately, he didn't have his hedge trimmers sent to Ecuador so we had to use office scissors. They worked, though!
The finished product. We'll have to get some more ornaments since we didn't have enough for such a big tree.
Once I got my shipment, we realized I had a small artificial tree. I decided to decorate it with all my purple and gold ornaments and put it in the back room.We really wanted to buy a nativity set this year and in Parque Carolina, there are lots of Christmas stands selling everything from ornaments, decorations, wrapping paper and a wide variety of "nacimientos" (nativity sets). We looked for a few days before deciding on this one, which we love. It sits on the table in our entry way.
We hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!



First off, let me start this post with two disclaimers: 1) Ronnie and I DO NOT condone animal cruelty in anyway what-so-ever. 2) If you are squeamish, I would suggest that you don't look too closely at the pictures below.

Last Monday, Ronnie and I went to our first bull fight. The fights occur this time of year in celebration of "Fiestas de Quito" or Quito Days. It is basically a week-long celebration for the city, followed by a holiday. During this week of festivities, there are bull fights, parties at the restaurants, clubs and fun double-decker buses called "chivas" that ride around town with a live band playing and lots of alcohol flowing. It looked like a lot of fun, but we didn't ride one this year.

Back to the bull fights....In case you've never been to a bull fight and weren't aware, let me warn you...the bull dies. The entire event consists of 3 fights, an intermission, then 3 more fights. So, yes, you guessed it, 6 bulls die each day during Fiestas de Quito! For each fight, they basically release the bull into the pen, tire him out, stab him and he eventually dies. All the while, the matador is being scored by a group of judges on technique, etc. I know, I know...it's horrible and cruel so why would we want to witness this??? Well, we had to experience this popular cultural event at least once. This is outside "Plaza de Toros".
The atmosphere at the amphitheater is like a huge party. There are vendors selling food, beer, hats and lots of music and dancing. People generally go early to enjoy the party before the actual fights start. Unfortunately, we arrived only 30 minutes before the fights, so we didn't get to enjoy too much of it. We found the group we were sitting with, grabbed a beer and headed to our seats. We got a 12 oz. beer for only $.50...what a deal!

Porta is one of the cellular phone companies here. We couldn't resist taking the silly picture of the cut-outs at their booth.

The view from our seats before the fights started.

Before each bull was released, they displayed the name of the matador, as well as, how much the bull he was fighting weighed.

The amphitheater is very close to the airport, so it was a little creepy seeing the planes fly by so low!

It was a REALLY hot and sunny day. It was a beautiful day, but there was absolutely NO shade in the amphitheater. (That's Liz behind Ronnie.)

So the bull is released and he runs around for a bit. There are several guys in the pen that taunt the bull and tire him out.

The guy on the horse rides around the bull for a bit, also taunting him, but then stabs him in the back between the shoulders if the bull gets too close. (For the most part, I was rooting for the bull. I really wanted him to knock the guy off the horse.)

Once he's been stabbed in the back, the bull is chased around the ring.

One of the guys then confronts the bull, head-on, and jabs daggers into his back. The daggers have flags in the end and they stay in him for the remainder of the fight.

The matador comes out and taunts the bull some more. This time he has a sword behind the cape he is holding.

Finally, the matador takes out the sword and stabs the bull in the back again. This was probably the most disturbing part of the fight. The sword is quite long and the entire blade goes into the bull.

Shortly after the bull is stabbed with the sword, he falls to the ground and dies.

They bring out a horse to drag the bull out of the ring.

Here are some more pictures of the next two fights.

Into the 3rd fight, shortly before intermission, the heat started getting to me. I realized I hadn't eaten breakfast and the first thing we did when we got to the amphitheater was grab a beer. I started to feel a bit dizzy and told Ronnie that I wasn't feeling well and suggested we go back out to wear we could get some shade. As he asked a friend to watch our bag, I rested my head on his shoulder and basically passed out. The next thing I remember, he was carrying me through the crowd. I was coming in and out of it and remember him trying to get me through the crowd, then Liz (who was quite intoxicated) rushed over to help carry me. Some of the guys in our group rushed over to help once they realized Liz was probably not the most capable of carrying me. By the time they got me back outside I was awake, but still dizzy. They got me water, sat me against the cold concrete and helped me cool off. It's not the first time I've fainted, but it was the first time Ronnie has witnessed me faint and it scared the crap out of him! Ronnie got some fruit for me to get some sugar in my blood, which seemed to help.

We didn't think it would be a good idea to go back into the second half of the fights since I'd be in the direct heat again. Instead, we just walked around for a bit, bought some hats then went home. All in all, it was a good time. I don't know if we'll go back next year. If we do, it will be more for the party, not the actual fights.

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