¡Saludos desde Ecuador!

¡Hola! Greetings from Ecuador!

I write to you from a Cabinero (internet “cafe” without the coffee) in downtown Quito, Ecuador! It’s still kind of surreal to me, but let me share with you my arrival of less than 18 hours ago…

I left early Thursday morning from San Francisco Airport.  My parents  kindly saw me off…

Still a Daddy’s Girl

My flight arrived in Quito on-time, but it took awhile to get through immigración and customs. I held my breath as I exited the terminal and scanned the dozens of people holding white name signs… until I saw Freddie front and center with a sign that read “Moxly.” He was very nice and spoke great English, (something I didn’t know to appreciate until later…) We chatted the whole 45-minute drive to la casa de mi host familia en Valle de Los Chillos. I couldn’t see much of the city since it was nighttime, but there were bus loads of people on the streets… Turns out I flew in on a huge national holiday, (Ecuador was founded on December 6th of 1542).

Freddie dropped me off with my host mother, Victoria. She seems very nice, although we had a two minute “conversation” of hand gestures and head nodding. The poor woman has un Norte Americano living in her house that doesn’t understand a thing she says! Although I did pick up that she is a teacher… (“Yo trabajo mañana en la escuela.”) And  that her husband is in the military, also.  Phew, I’m quickly realizing that I have a LOT to learn!

I woke up the next morning to the sound of roosters and dogs barking outside my window, but at least with the daylight I was able to see where the heck I was. I have a nice little room and bathroom in a sort of guesthouse in their back yard. They live in a little courtyard type thing with four houses, all family. The house looks pretty sad on the outside (all rough cement, large cement walls around the courtyard with crude iron bars at the top and some graffiti…) but the inside is very quaint.  It reminds me so much of the Philippines.  The scents and smells are exactly the same.

 Home Sweet Home

 

Outside view of my new crib from inside the courtyard

I had breakfast (hot milk and sweet bread with guava marmelade) prepared by the house helper. She’s my favorite so far. She’s already taught me half the words I know. (One such word is indoro, or toilet. This is because after a game of charades, she showed me how to fix it when it doesn’t flush properly…)

Maria, the program director, met up with me and went through the project details. I asked a million questions. She drew me a couple maps, explained how the bus system works (definitely different than the US!) and how to get around downtown Quito.

After getting a key to the gate from Mariam (the helper), I walked the several blocks to the closest bus stop and rode the 30 minutes to downtown Quito. Holy culture shock. Things are so different here! Of course I expected things to be different, but there are so many cultural “norms” that I am devastatingly unaware of. And hardly anybody speaks English, so I’m really coming to realize how badly I need to learn Spanish. I walked several blocks to the Spanish school that was recommended through the program, (an adorable little nook above a barber shop). I love it! And it’s so nice to be around a bunch of Europeans and Ecuadorians that speak Inglés!

I had two hours before my first lesson, so I found a vintage, little bookstore and bought a Spanish-English dictionary. I had lunch at a tiny cafe (verrrry difficult to order, pay, and tip with the language barrier!) And now I’m here writing to you!
Phew, I wish I could describe in more detail the sights and sounds of everything. For example, the “cafe” was a little kitchen counter and register where I can see him cook my chicken. And the city is very big and teeming with people, mopeds and taxis, and colorful houses crammed together on the mountains.

Downtown Quito
BUT, I gotta run to my lesson. Miss you all and will write again soon!

-Steph :)

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