I can’t believe my time here is pretty much over, as I have loved every minute of it and can’t wait to return. I leave tomorrow on an afternoon flight, so today is mainly packing and saying my goodbyes.
Today I helped the Pakistani refugee family with various things. They are lovely people and I enjoy showing them around and helping Ornid with his Spanish and Noreen with her English. Mary is their little 2 year old who is an adorable handful. Every day she hears about 5 different languages: Her mother speaks Urdu and Punjabi to her, while her dad speaks English and Thai to her, all while being surrounded by people speaking Spanish. I swear she’ll be a super fast language learner when she gets older with all the brain synapses she is firing hearing those words. ;)
I've officially ordered my taxi for the morning, so I guess I'd better finish packing. It's always hard to leave a place you've fallen in love with. I will return though; the city, the mountains, and the people are already pulling me back.
I can’t believe how fast time has gone by here.
Wednesday morning I helped a Pakistani refugee family staying at the Center to navigate Quito and get their visas registered. None of them speak Spanish, so they needed help getting through the frustrating government offices/long-stay visa process. As with any government visa/passport office, we ended up waiting for several hours. In the end though, everything worked out and they now have their visas to stay here until their permanent transfer to Canada. The three of them have been through a lot, and everyone has learned a thing or two about patience and positivity from them---they’re just wonderful people.
Wednesday evening I went to a fútbol game and had a great time. Soccer games here are very intense (as they were in Paraguay). They have riot police stationed all over and pat you down at every door you go through to get into the stadium. We were rooting for Quito’s Liga Club, who scored and won in the last 5 minutes of the game. :)
Today I went up the ‘Teleférico’, which is a cable car system that takes you up to 13,400ft on the Pichincha volcano overlooking Quito. I didn’t go all the way up to the 15,000ft summit, but I did hike around a bit, took tons of pictures, and got to pet some llamas. The views were breathtaking and my photos certainly don’t do them justice. I wish I could show you all just how gorgeous it was---plus it was so wonderfully quiet and clear. It truly is an amazing view.
Speaking of views, I don't want to miss the sunset...
Buenos días a todos!
It's amazing how fast time flies. I’m halfway through my time here and I have already done so much and had so many new experiences. This week I visited a local carpentry class just for fun and got to try my hand at wood working, though I should probably stick to activities without giant, spinning saws. ;) I walked down to one of the local open air markets and spent an hour wandering around the stalls of fresh produce, meat, fish, and live animals. Markets here are like farmers markets in the States on steroids---and I could spend all day wandering through them.
Saturday I went to one of the largest artisan markets near Quito called Otavalo. It was so much fun and the artists and vendors were so interesting, as were the goods they were selling. I bought a ton of gifts and found some gorgeous paintings done by a local artist. Bartering is the norm here, so I was able to get quite a bit of handmade gifts/art for a relatively small amount of money. On the way up and back, I stopped at a lookout point and saw both the Caymabe and Cotopaxi active volcanoes, with altitudes of 18,000ft and 19,300ft respectively. It is amazing that there are over 7 active volcanoes of varying hights surrounding Quito. Cotopaxi erupted last August, but they saw it coming and evacuated the areas closest to it. I think Quito had some ash cover for a few days though.
Sunday morning I went downtown to and toured the Mitad Del Mundo/Museo Intiñan, which is where the zero latitude line is drawn and you can get the corny tourist picture with the sign saying you are standing on the middle of the world. Yes, I did succumb to the tourist inside me and got a photo. ;) For lunch I went to a restaurant called Fiambres where Andrew Zimmern from the TV show Bizarre Foods first ate cuy (guinea pig). I’m an adventurous eater and I’ll try anything once--trust me, I’ve had a variety of interesting dishes. So now I can add roasted guinea pig to my repertoire. To me it kind of tasted like a very greasy chicken, but it was pretty good. In the afternoon I went down to one of Quito’s artisan markets and walked around, and of course I bought some more alpaca scarves. They’re just so soft!
In other news, I experienced an earthquake tremor for the first time. Last night they had two earthquakes on the coast, 5.9 and 6.2 magnitude aftershocks from the big earthquake back in April. Quito usually feels the tremors from earthquakes on the coast. I have to say it is one of the strangest feelings in the world to feel the earth move underneath you. The whole building shook and we all just held on for about 2 minutes until it stopped. I’m told it was pretty gentle as tremors go, but it was still quite a weird experience. I was reading the paper this morning and as of 8:55am here, they have not issued a tsunami warning for the coast and while there were injuries, no deaths have been reported. It is devastating for the infrastructure on the coast though, since many are still recovering from the big earthquake in April and the large aftershock in May.
Today I am headed to Calderon, a town known for its sculptures and art made from hardened bread dough. I’m told the nativity sets they make are quite sought after.
Here's to every new day!
After just a few days here in Quito, I can say one thing: wow, just wow. This place is so vibrant and the views take your breath away.
I arrived in Quito on Sunday afternoon and took a 45min cab ride to my destination. The rest of the day I rested and drank water, letting my body settle into the altitude. Only two days after getting here, all the chaperones know my name and have called on me several times to help translate/talk to people.
Yesterday I took a walking tour of two absolutely gorgeous churches. Gosh, I may not be religious but churches can be such stunning works of art and architectural accomplishment.
Here almost all buildings are made out of concrete and there is no need for AC or heat as the temp stays about the same year round (low 40s-low 70s) here in Quito.
Okay, I need to go back inside and help begin prep for dinner. Hope everyone had a great weekend!
This is my first post on this blog/using this interface, so bear with me. I was supposed to start this blog on June 1st, when Iwas originally scheduled to arrive in Ecuador, but then life happened, so I had to sit tight and be patient. I was scheduled for today, but due to factors like weather and airplane mechanical problems, I am stateside and waiting in Chicago. I've been rescheduled to leave tomorrow, so for now I am spending the day reading and hopping between coffee shops, awaiting my 5am flight. I should get into Quito in the afternoon, and then I will get a taxi and/or bus to get into the city. Thankfully I only have a carry-on bag, it would be a hassle with a large suitcase.
The city of Quito sits at 9,350ft (2850m) above sea level in the Andean highlands, with a population of around 2,600,000 people. It's the highest capital city in the world and is at the base of the active Pinchacha volcano (15,696ft).The city is very close to the equator (zero latitude) and attracts many who hope to see "la mitad del mundo" (the middle of the world) to get that iconic photo of straddling the equator in the historic center of the city.
I will be farther away from the touristy areas though, at the northern tip of the city. My Spanish skills are pretty good, I'm always wary to say fluent, but spending a year between high school and college living in Concepción, Paraguay really helped. After a few google searches for local NGOs, a few rounds of email tag, and a wonderful recommendation from a good family friend, I wound up planning for this summer in Quito. I am very excited to get back into Spanish again and get the experience working in a local not-for-profit. Plus, I am excited to hear Quechua and learn more about its linguistic history. I'm a sucker for languages; I've dabbled in several and I enjoy learning about their history/grammar/linguistic ties, even if I can't speak them. I may have a passion for learning languages, but that doesn't mean I'm fluent in English all the time. Sometimes (i.e. often) I have absolutely no clue what language I'm speaking/thinking in. ;)
I plan to use this blog to write about my experiences during my time at CMT, and to journal about my daily life in Quito. Part of me still can't believe I'm going, I think it will kick in when I'm on the plane. I am so excited!
I wish everyone a wonderful weekend.
An aspiring polyglot and globetrotter, an avid reader, and a lover of good food. :)