Notes for Ecuador:
- Don’t let the taxi drivers think that you’re “just another gringo,” we know how much a cab fare should cost.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things! Want to know how many new types of food I’ve tried? Well so would I! At this point I can’t even remember. (But be careful because sooner or later you might end up on the “Flojo List” – for those who have fallen victim to gastrointestinal difficulties).
- Take in the view. I don’t know about everyone else out here, but I’ve never lived around mountains. It is so amazing to be able to appreciate the view.
- Act like you know what you’re doing. People will be less likely to think you’re a tourist and it makes you learn what to do quickly.
My first full week in Quito — wow there is so much to say. Going to Spanish class has been pretty useful. I’m not as proficient in Spanish as I had hoped I’d be when I got here, but it does seem to be coming along pretty well. I can hold semi-decent conversations in Spanish which is a huge relief. And our classes have been fun. For one class we went on a field trip to a church/museum. It had beautiful architecture and paintings and much of the interior was inlaid with gold. During another class we got to learn about music from Ecuador and the U.S. There was plenty of dancing and laughing all around. I think that is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far, just take each day as it is and don’t forget to laugh and have fun with it.
When I got lost with two other girls in the south side of Quito I did not think it was fun and I was terrified. Now that I look back, even just days later I can laugh about it. The experience itself wasn’t amazing, but there were definitely a lot of lessons to be learned from it. In the end, everyone made it home safe and nothing happened with the exception of an expensive cab ride.
Everyone is quickly learning how to get around and function in Quito. We are also learning how to adapt to living with a host family. Some people have already realized things that they aren’t going to do with their next host family, like saying they like something when they really don’t. I’ve also noticed that everyone’s host family is different and I am very thankful and glad for the one I have. In addition, living with a host family has also made me appreciate the family that I have back home in the U.S.
So the last thing I have to talk about is my first actual weekend in Quito. It was pretty awesome. Friday night I went out and did some shopping. There are so many stores around, from little shops on the street to huge malls all right around the corner from each other. Sadly, my host brother was sick so my family didn’t go out, but half of the cohort got together Saturday night and it was amazing. We went to a music festival and art exhibit in the suburbs of Quito. The bands were awesome and the people were super nice. A decent amount of the people in attendance spoke English and we were able to carry on conversations for a while. We all let loose and danced, looked at some amazing art, made new connections, and had a great time together. The best part though was the end of the night when we crammed 22 people onto a small bus.In all honesty, I don’t know how we fit everyone but that’s the way things work in Ecuador — if there’s no room you make room.
In my final week in Quito I learned to open up and share the hard parts of my past. It wasn’t easy to do, especially with people that I am still getting to know. I believe that I am learning to be comfortable with myself and more confident. I know what I want and I am open about my expectations for the next few months. When I get on that bus to Otavalo tomorrow I know I will be upset to leave Quito and my family here, but I still have so much more ahead.
Now it’s time to put on my boots and make my trail.