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First week in Quito, Ecuador

Joanne 2006-11-25
Our first week in Quito (for the second time). This time we are not making any plans to get on a plane to return home, but to get on a bus and then a canoe to go into the jungle.

Landing in Quito was a little emotional for me. The first time could not be truly appreciated. I was quite distracted by the uncertainty and fear that seemed to preoccupy my every thought. When leaving a short 6 days later we had no idea when or even if returning was in our future. Of course we kept telling ourselves that we would return, but the reality was, this no longer seemed to be in our hands. As the airplane wheels hit the pavement, the previous experience and emotional upheaval came rushing back and then I was instantaneously overcome with positive emotions of gratitude for being able to continue where we left off. Everything I observed upon landing seemed to be for the first time, but with a greater appreciation.

For the first few days we were constantly reminded of the change in altitude in Quito. Physically, I had a constant minor headache that was easily ignored. Then there is being out of breath if even attempting to walk a little faster than a relaxed pace or going up a flight of stairs. No problem, we're in no real hurry we just stroll to where we are going. Finally the excessive fatigue from the change in altitude forced us to return to our kindergarten days of taking naps. Never underestimate the power of a siesta.

Every morning at 4am there is a rooster that feels this would be a good time for everyone to wake up. Normally this would be the bane of my existence waking me up and keeping me up. Being so fatigued from the change in altitude makes it so that I hear my little friend at 4am and simply roll over and go back to sleep.

The daily Spanish classes have been a great experience. I learned to speak French when I was in elementary school. I don't remember it being this challenging. Aren't we supposed to get smarter with age?

Since we are staying with an Ecuadorian family, all conversations are in Spanish. While at times it gets fatiguing to have to pay such close attention to try to understand the most basic sentences, being immersed is really improving our ability to speak Spanish. I will admit there are times when my head hurts and not from the change in altitude but from concentrating so hard. So sometimes I take the easy route and pretend I am listening and am grateful that Paul really is paying attention. I think there are times when he does the same. We are definitely noticing a change on a daily basis. I'm quite certain that I butcher most every sentence. I'm just happy to get an entire thought across AND have it understood.

Having lived in San Diego for the last nine years, we became quite accustomed to leaving our rain jackets in the closet. Actually, Paul didn't even own one until we started planning and buying our gear for this trip! In Quito, if you ask a local man he will tell you that the weather is like a woman, never predictable and crazy. Of course, if you ask a local woman, she will say the same but compare it to an Ecuadorian man. The only thing predictable about the weather here is that you know it will rain, you just don't know when. One moment it is a perfect clear day and the next moment it is pouring rain.

I haven't quite figured out the bus system yet. Here's what I do know, buses barely stop for you to get on or off. They cost a quarter and you pay when you get off. There is always a constant stream of buses going down the streets billowing out black exhaust. I have no idea if there are any predefined stops. There is always a guy hanging out the door saying something which remains a mystery to me. There are 3 different colors of buses; I don't know what the difference is between them.

Thankfully if not walking to our destination, taking a taxi is a really cheap. Interestingly the cost of going from A to B will change from daytime to nighttime. All cab drivers at night have tried to rip us off by telling us the wrong price when getting to our destination. We now know how far we can get for a dollar of two, so Paul will firmly tell the cab driver what the price should be. We are always met with resistance and the cab driver will insist that the price is... Paul will put the proper amount in the cab driver's hand and wish him a good evening. It seems to be a ritual now and would probably seem as if a part of the true experience was missing if this was not the end to our evenings.

Our first week in Quito for the second time has been great, definitely much better than the first time!! We are very excited to leave it all behind and venture into the jungle for the next two weeks where we will continue our Spanish lessons and explore a part of the world that we have only dreamt of.


Permalink by penny-mom   |  November 25, 2006 05:02 PM

GREAT!!!!!!Well -written!!! Wonderful-feel like I am there-keep the news a 'coming!!!LOVE you.Penny/MOMxoxoxo

Permalink by Philippe   |  December 1, 2006 12:00 PM

Man, I envy you guys. I guess my worldy experience will have to wait a few years. We had our first snowfall today. It was 15 degrees C yesterday and -2 today.

As the days go by, you will not have to concentrate so much on what they are saying. Being immersed in the Spanish speaking world is THE best way to learn. But I guess you already know that.

Keep up the great stories, we all love to read them.

Permalink by guillermo holmes   |  December 3, 2006 01:21 AM

Dios Mio!

This brings back such memories. I have a huge smile on my face reading this (as I'm sitting in the "food court" of Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris - the chaos of travel here is quaint by comparison).

The note about the buses and the cab ritual ring so true. For all we know, for years the cab drivers get together the next morning and say "you know those Gringo, they insist on underpaying you at night, but they are so polite about it."

On the buses, it won't be long before you have your masters degree and you can navigate like the locals - Que dios les bendiga!



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