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Journey back to South America

Paul 2006-11-20

Getting to South America was an adventure in itself... We flew from Montreal to Chicago to Miami to Quito, which is big all on its own. Add in the fact that it's Thanksgiving weekend (the most heavily traveled days in the US), and that they kept announcing that the government raised the alert level to orange, the second highest terrorist threat level right behind imminent attack: Quick, run and hide!

Nonetheless, we arrived in Quito and were met by a lovely mom and son who would take us to our host family. Unfortunately, they also had to meet another arriving traveler whose flight was delayed for an hour and a half. So despite having already traveled for 16 hours, the extra wait at the airport made it nearly 18 hours door to door.

Surprisingly, I slept for most of the day. I didn't realize how much I had been pushing myself the last week. It was great to feel awake again without coffee. But I digress...

Arriving at our host family's house last night, we were greeted by a cheerily wide-smiling woman Maria Ines and her husband Jaime, both in her sixties who took us in, showed us around their house and to our room.

Safe, alone and able to "turn off" at last, we fell into bed, unceremoniously looked at each other: "We made it!", and despite sleeping all day, proceeded to pass out from exhaustion. There's something to be said about suddenly finding yourself 2850m / 9350ft up, with no acclimatization. There's the headache, which is only minor, the way you start panting out of breath at the slightest exertion, and the incredible exhaustion felt the first few days at altitude.

Waking after seven hours of ultra-deep sleep, we washed up, unpacked and proceeded downstairs, where Maria Ines served breakfast of fresh Ecuadorian bread (half way between country "levain" bread and croissant), home made jam, butter and papaya with coffee/tea. Delicious!

She pointed us in the right direction, and we walked twenty minutes to the school, engrossed by all the newness around us.

We signed up for three weeks of Spanish school, each with our own teacher, 1 on 1 for 4 hours a day. The first week we're in Quito, and then we take a 10 hour bus ride east into the Amazon basin followed by a five hour canoe ride into the jungle and continue for two more weeks there. I've always dreamt of the jungle, it's almost palpable now.

The Spanish classes are great, tailored to our skill and learning speed. Even though it was our first day, we barely heard or spoke any English. Nice.

After class, we walked back to the house where we were fed cream of broccoli soup (everything is home made), chicken, rice and tomato salad, and finished with what's probably the tastiest fruit we've ever had, "babaco", a long and narrow melon-like fruit with the sweetness of pineapple and the consistency of ripe mango. Wow!

Our bodies cried out for yet more sleep, and we had our first siesta, and here I lay, tapping away on TyTN, lying on the bed watching the rain and occasional lightning out the window as Joanne studies her notes from this morning's class.