Spanish class, salty snacks, and a whole lotta walking…
Monday, January 31, 2011
From my first few postings, it may have seemed as though I’m here in Ecuador on an extended adventure/vacation. This is true, very true. But, today we started the classes to justify this extended adventure. The other study abroaders and I began our Spanish classes today- not as wild and crazy as zip lines, but an adventure none the less!
We girls trekked all the way down the hill on our street, Via Lengua, to meet the boys at our usual rally point – Pollo Gus (a late-night, greasy-chicken joint). We walked to the trollé and took the green line south to our school. Our classes are held in El Mariscal, a very cool neighborhood with lots of tourism because of the many hostels. The language institute we are taking classes at is held inside an old restaurant that was once the Mango Tree. Now, it's less comida and more habla. Love it! We have two professores-Mario y Fauky.
The real adventure came after class. While most of the S.A.ers visited the artesian market in El Mariscal, Sharon, Chelsea, and I went out for una almuerzo. "Almuerzos" are lunch specials that cost about $1.50 and are usually traditional Ecuadorian food. The restaurant we went to was a hole-in-the-wall place and we stepped over a baby in a bouncy chair to enter, and then ducked down into a cramped, cavernous basement dining room – a pretty literal hole in the wall. The place was very small and a little dirty- perfect for cheap almuerzo. The atmosphere definitely left a little to be desired, as the circa 1970s wood paneling was molding in some places and Chelsea's mango juice was served in a cracked glass (classy, right?). We felt very adventurous, and it paid off. The food was great! Chicken, rice, avocado and ahi (a special Ecuadorian sauce like salsa that is unique in every restaurant), and I haven't gotten sick yet!
After that adventure, we took the trollé back north (after a wrong stop and some horribly fudged Spanish directions) and made a quick trip to La Santa Maria grocery store to buy snacks for our breaks during class. Turns out Rold Gold pretzels are not a staple in Ecuador, which is one of the less enchanting aspects of Ecua culture. I love pretzels. : (
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Firstly, a small preface. Remember, I came to Quito hoping to better my Spanish and hug a few orphans- not exactly traverse mountains and fly through the rain forest.
The following is true.
Today, I zip lined down 13 cables to cross a ravine in the "cloud forest" of Mindo. THIRTEEN CABLES. I wish I could do the experience justice here with words, but I know I cannot.
All 8 semester-abroaders piled into a van and drove two and a half hours to Mindo, where we drove up through mountains into the cloud forest. On the way we passed through a few little towns and even saw a waterfall! Crazy. After hours-long "make or break" or "would you rather" games, we embarked on what is probably the most adventurous thing I've ever done... ZIP LINING.
We geared up and were good to go. And just like that, we hopped up and zipped through the cloud forest.... Of course, I sustained a few battle scars and probably will never do that again.
So that's zip lining. Que Chevre! (How cool!) Oh! I should also mention the free spa treatment I also got today. In between each post was a good walk up the mountain. It was raining steadily, and by the end my legs (and brand new Nikes... sorry Mom) were totally brown with mud. Sweet. Mountain climbing, spa treatments, new, cool and hip ripped jeans... oh adventure.
Two Hemispheres. One Day.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Checked out the Equator today. And tried Qui (Guinea Pig, and Ecuadorian delight)!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Dear Quito, I love you. Today was insane.
We did a little scavenger hunt around the city.
A city we don't know.
A city we've never been to.
Kids that can't read maps.
Kids that can't speak Spanish.
Trolleys that people get packed into like sardines.
Trolleys with signs that say, "Cuida su vida"(guard/watch your life).
We started in our neighborhood and walked to Plaza de Americas, a mall a few blocks from the girls' apartment. The streets are crazy here and crossing them is a joke, so you follow a native. My teammate Chelsea made it halfway across the street and then realized the cross traffic was about to kill her. Excellent.
Some more highlights: Visited a huge park a mile or two south of our neighborhood with an abandoned, graffiti-ed air plane. I'm not kidding, there was a slide coming from the cockpit. (Seriously, I'll make a legitimate effort at photo documentation.)
Moral of the story, today was great-it was an adventure and I can't wait to do it again! We ended the hunt with really inexpensive spaghetti we bought at El Bosque, while looking at the mountains and the entire city through a great window wall.
I'm not kidding. We ate spaghetti for lunch in Quito, Ecuador. Love it.
**Insider tip for anyone traveling to Latin America. Avoid the "coca light" at all costs. Terrible, just terrible. NOT DIET COKE.**
…when it Quito
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I guess it must be that when you live in a place forever, it’s beyond your comprehension that other ways of life exist. That being said, Ecuador is not the states, and as we study abroaders say, "It's not good, it's not bad, it's just different." Fun differences, I've gathered from days 1,2&3:
-Creating a line of broken bottles on a fence is a common (albeit a bit unsightly) security measure here.
-No screens on the windows.
-The customer (me) is not always right. Today I asked for lettuce and tomato on my sandwich and the waitress politely, but firmly, said, “No,” because it was a hot sandwich. : (
-Every family has a dog. These dogs only make noise from 5-7 a.m. Some of said dogs wear clothes.
-High heels up hill, totally no big deal.
-Ecuadorians pay their bills in a physical place, not through the mail. As in there is something similar to a currency exchange where sometimes, you can wait in line for up to 45 minutes and pay for your water and gas.
That being said, I love the weirdness. I’m soaking it up and still trying to figure it out. Still no pictures, really out of choice. I'm just not a picture person- go read Sharon Chun's blog for all that. : )
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Did some orientation stuff today. Learned about normal Ecuadorian greetings- cheek kisses are the thing here! We had a lot of laughs while we met the two guys who are also studying with us. Hope to take some pictures soon and have some more exciting news. The orientation week is a little overwhelming, and seems like info overload right now.
Today’s highlight: I purchased my first beverage from an Ecuadorian tienda in Spanish. It was terrible. : )
Monday, January 24, 2011
Arrived safe and sound in Quito at about 8:45 tonight, unpacked with the girls, took in the sights from the roof of our apartment, and met our new roommates.
Best part of my day? Two-way tie between practically running through the Miami airport with Sharon, as to not miss our flight to Quito, and the fact that I made it here alive. : )
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Well, I’m leaving Los Estados Unidos por Ecuador en 22 dias. Ahh! It’s exciting. Gearing up and getting ready to go!