As I write this, it’s been exactly two weeks since I arrived in Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. With one more week to go here, I feel as if there’s still so much more to learn from this city. So far, Quito has taught me how to fight my way onto over-crowded metrobuses, how to manage crossing the street when traffic rules don’t apply, and how to distinguish between the street food that’s safe to eat, and the rest of it. I’ve learned how to hail a taxi and how to add Saldo, or credit, to my Ecuadorian cell phone. I’ve learned that wifi can be hard to come by, even in the most affluent of neighborhoods.
I’ve seen that begging doesn’t really exist here, that instead, there are peddlers of all sorts of goods on every street corner. I’ve learned a few salsa steps. I’ve learned that “Chao“ means goodbye, and that “Adios“ means goodbye forever. I’ve gotten altitude sickness and been pickpocketed on the bus. My Spanish has slowly been improving, though my host family still laughs at most of the things that I say. I’ve learned that conversational English skills are common among young adults here. I’ve also realized that many Ecuadorians are inexplicably fascinated with extranjeros, especially Americans.
Perhaps most importantly, I’ve finally found out where I’ll be spending my next seven months in Ecuador. My placement is in San Bartolome, a small agricultural town that’s about an hour east of Cuenca, which is a southern colonial city that’s known for its architecture and alpaca wool sweaters. In San Bartolome, I’ll be living with two parents and their three young children, and I’ll be apprenticing at the local high school, helping to teach English. Quito has taught me so many things already, and I’m excited to see what San Bartolome has in store for me.