Hola from Quito, Ecuador!

It has been a wonderful first week abroad, FILLED with Spanish. I arrived July 1, was picked up from the airport by a mystery man, and taken to my host family. I was greeted with hugs and kisses from my host mother, who was so happy to receive me. I met the whole family and was invited to join them in watching a bootleg copy of The Avengers in Spanish. I felt mildly overwhelmed, but mostly content to finally arrive in this incredible city after months of dreaming about it. I couldn´t have asked for a kinder family. I used to think there were 3 kids, but now I think there might be 4. (I know this sounds ridiculous.) I was originally introduced to three – two girls and a boy, all around the age of 18. Then, a couple days later, while we were eating dinner, another girl walked out of the kitchen (how she got in there, I have no idea). The mom explained that she works during the night and sleeps all day, but it remains unclear to me if she´s a daughter or a friend of the family. My Spanish is improving rapidly, and I could ask quesitons about this, but how embarrassing!

Speaking of Spanish, I am absolutely loving learning a third language! It´s so much easier than learning the second (which, for me, was French). I´ve been doing Rosetta Stone for a little over a year, some months more seriously than others, but I´ve never taken a Spanish class or even had a conversation in Spanish with a real live person until now. I must say, it has been a sort of out-of-body experience. I listen to my teacher talk, I understand everything she´s saying, I respond (slowly) with words I didn´t even know I knew, and I am totally shocked by myself. Of course, not all Spanish attempts have been a success. I often switch over to French without noticing, and I even said “es gut” once. I have no idea where that came from.

School, in short, is awesome. I take 6 hours of one-on-one tutoring a day, which everyone things I´m crazy for, including my teachers. Jenny teaches me each morning for 4 hours, with a 30-minute break. Then I have another 30-minute break, during which I usually grab lunch. Then 2 more hours, either with Patricia or Edith. It´s exhausting, there´s no question about that, but as most of you know, I love to talk, so talking for 6 hours a day is mostly fun for me. I do feel bad for Jenny, my primary teacher. By the end of this month she will know everything about me! When you talk to someone for 4 hours a day every day, you basically cover every topic. Yesterday, I told her about the Reformation for an hour because she had never heard of Martin Luther; now that´s evangelism! The notes I take in my notebook are very telling, and rather hilarious. Perhaps my favorite sequence is:

una mascota = a pet
cuy = guinea pig
probar = to taste (try)

No, I have not yet tasted guinea pig, but it looks like it´s in my near future. My school offers lots of cool activities after classes (I´m done each day at 3pm). So far I´ve learned to salsa, gone on a walking tour of the old city at night, and this weekend I´m going on a trip with the school to a town called Mindo. If I´m understanding correctly (which is always a big If), my weekend will be filled with hiking, tubing, ziplining, eating the best pizza in Ecuador, and jumping off of waterfalls. I can´t wait! The other awesome thing about school is that you don´t have to stay in the classroom with your teacher; you could ask to go somewhere. So the other day, my teacher and I went on a mission to find a piano so I can practice. (In the process, I tried to tell her I like adventures, but I accidentally said I like affairs. Oops.) Seems like a pretty easy mission, right? WRONG. Pianos are near impossible to find here. In the process of looking, however, I got to visit the offices for the Quito Symphony Orchestra, so that´s cool. I´m hoping to attend a concert tonight. The piano search was a failure, which I found incredibly shocking.

Which brings me to my final paragraph. Lots of things about Ecuador have surprised me…mostly because I had never been to South America and did a crappy job researching before my trip. I hope to share some of these things throughout my month here…I´ll only give a few major examples for now. I basically expected everything to be similar to Senegal, which is ridiculous, but that´s the most different place I´ve ever experienced. Like Senegal, Ecuador is on the Westernmost point of the continent, but I was surprised to learn that the West Coast of South America is further east than the east coast of North America! In fact, I´m an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Another assumption that I made along with everyone else is that since Ecuador is by the Equator, it would be really hot. Nope! Quito is a 2-mile high city, so because of the altitude, it´s quite cold at night and beautiful during the day – no humidity, no bugs. Also related to the Equator, the sun rises and sets at 6 every day, all year round. For me, this has meant waking up early and going to bed early. It has been a good routine so far, and I´m looking forward to the next 3 weeks. I have lots more about family life and culture to say, so stay tuned, and feel free to leave a comment and let me know if you have any specific questions! Peace for now…

my bedroom

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7 thoughts on “Hola from Quito, Ecuador!

  1. Amanda, thanks for the newsy update. What a wonderful adventure! My question: do you share this room with someone since I see two beds?
    Aunt Ruth

    • You two sure are sisters! 🙂 Yes, I do have a roommate! Her name is Sylvia and she’s from Canada. She’s studying Spanish at my school as well. It’s nice to have some company…

  2. Do you have a new roommate now? We hear that rich Americans are retiring to Ecuador because of the inexpensive housing and food. Do you see signs of that? I’m glad it is beautiful weather there because here it is hotter than hot! When I got into my car today after lunch, it said it was 111! Of course, that was baking in the sun, so by the time I arrived home it had cooled down to a mere 100! Keep having good adventures! (No affairs, please!)

    Love,
    Mom

    • I’ve been amazed at how many Americans are here! I haven’t noticed lots of old retired ones, though I did learn today that the word for retirement in spanish is “la jubilacion”…share that with Aunt Jeannie! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Music and Mindo | Songbird Sings

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