Where to begin? Let's see... Last Monday I left the states to head to Miami. The flight to Miami was filled with bling everywhere (no joke it was hilarious). I got to the airport and then went straight to my hotel. A bit later I met up with one of the volunteers (Caitlin) and we went walking around the hotel. Good lord Miami in the summer is like a steam bath! We ate some awesome cuban food and I tried plantains for the first time. Then we headed back to the hotel and I met my roommate for the night, Teshema. She and I spent a long time talking and I realized that I was definitely going to like a lot of the people in this group. After that we headed to the lobby and ate dinner (hummus!) with some other vols. It was so crazy to be surrounded by people who have so much of the same view of the world that I do. After that we headed to our first orientation and chose spirt animals and talked about our worries. Again, everyone was so cool! Later a bunch of us went out to another cuban place until later and then I took my last hot shower with good water pressure. Then it was a nice and short 3.5 hours of sleep before the airport again!
We all shuffled ourselves to the airport and got on the flight to Colombia. It was definitely my first taste of everything being in Spanish and my head hurt a little. But it was all good. Then we landed in Colombia and hung out at the airport for awhile. I made some awesome friends and ate some delicious food. I also got to check out some of the duty free shops and (this if for Kaytee) found out that their favorite candy is guava jam in square form. Kinda weird and would be better on bread. I also picked up some dark chocolate, yum! Then came the big plane ride to Quito!
As we were flying in I couldn't help but notice how big quito is! It is a super long city because it is surrounded by mountains on either side. It was amazing seeing Cotopaxi and Pichincha (sp?) in the distance. Then we landed in the middle of the city (seriously) and got some taxis to our hostel. Quito is so gorgeous, but in a really understated way. It's pretty amazing.
We got to our hotel and some of us went out exploring for a while before dinner. Crazy potholes everywhere and pedestrians do NOT have the right of way. After that we went to dinner with the whole group and I had my first taste of Ecuadorian beer called Club. Something I imagine I'll be drinking much more of :). Then we were all super tired so we went to bed.
The next day we got up and went to our "school" and chatted about Ecuador. I had my first set almuerzo (lunch) of rice and beans. After lunch we had a big talk about safety in Ecuador and we were all pretty scared. Apparently buses are really unsafe (especially at night) and there were several WorldTeach horror stories. But all should be well as long as we take a reputable bus company during the day. The real fun came later that night when we got to meet our host families for Quito. I am living with a girl named Krista who is really nice. We were picked up by our Ecua-madre and her daughter and son-in-law. As we were taking our stuff to the car, one of the guys, Justin, wanted to help with my bag. Unfortunately, the hotel owner thought he was stealing my bag and put him in a pretty intense headlock. I felt so bad! We packed our billions of things into the car and... it wouldn't start. So in traditional Ecua-fashion we did not call a tow truck, or a taxi, we fixed it! Krista and I spent 2 hours pushing the car back and forth trying to get it to start and in gear with Diego (the son-in-law). It was crazy! We finally got it and made it to the house. It's really nice and we each have our own bedroom. We chatted for a while and thank goodness Krista is good at Spanish because I'm wasn't understanding too much.
Which brings up a good point. My head feels like a giant sponge right now. I am soaking up Spanish but I still suck at speaking. In nearly every conversation I can understand about 40% of it but responding is hard. My Ecua-mami is so cute because she wants me to understand so much and talks to me really fast and then says "mi Sarita... no se... preciosa!" My nicknames are Sarita (little Sara) and precious. I find the little funny because I'm actually taller than people here, even guys! But everything has -ita on the end. Ex: orita (little gold, aka: banana). I am taking Spanish classes though and they will help a lot. I'm in one with the girl who is moving to Ibarra with me. It is funny how the two worst Spanish speakers are both going to the same place.
The last few days have been filled with classes on culture shock and staying safe. They are very informative but they sure keep us busy. I've had 15 hour days for a few days in a row and it's making me muy consada! And after 15 hours in the city we come back and want to hang out with our host family. So I've been averaging very little sleep. Tomorrow is a relative free day though.
Last night Krista and I went out with our host brother, Daniel, to see the statue of the "Virgin of Quito" in the very center of the city. It is on a huge hill and looks over everything, so pretty! Then we went to this awesome part of the historic district called "La Ronda." It's basically a big street party every night with shops and musicians and mini-parades. We met up with some of his friends and I got to try Ecua-moonshine called "caneloza." It's cane sugar alcohol and some kind of juice flavoring served hot. It was pretty good but super strong! Then we tried "espumia" (sp?) which is weird non-cold ice cream like stuff. It was okay. Next were chocolates with alcohol in them, yum! And! Best part! All of this was paid for by Daniel's friends! Being a gringa can get you pretty far :).
Today we had more classes and we started learning about lesson planning. Most everyone in the group is freaking out about teaching. I actually feel pretty good about it. It's nice to have one strength (since everyone else has Spanish). I also went to a crazy cool market and will have to go back with more money. Next we had a salsa class because in a few minutes we are going salsa dancing! Granted I have two-left feet, but it's all fun.
That's my life so far!
- Juice, juice, and more juice! Every kind of juice you can imagine and nothing from concentrate!
- Ecuas always talk about the weather. It is either caliente or chachay (Quichua).
- Ecuas have lots of Quichua words. Quichua is different then Quechua btw.
- Food is cheap but almost everything else is expensive. I can get a super huge $2 lunch and then buy body wash for $6.
- Ecuas are loud! Everything is amplified and crazy. It's awesome!
- Hot water does not actually mean hot water. It means 10 seconds of hot water. We're all learning the "suds up while it's cold and rinse while it's hot" dance.
- Ecuas love to love. Everyone kisses everyone hello. Even if it is a group of 20 people saying a quick hello to 20 people, everyone must kiss on the cheek. The night I went to La Ronda I think I kissed 20 cheeks and I didn't know any of them. It's a really cool sight to see. Everyone is just so happy and friendly.
- Cell phones last on average 3 months. They are always stolen.
- Speaking of robbers, they are very nice here. You can bargain with them to let you keep enough money to take the bus home, or to keep the watch your grandpa gave you, etc...
There are lots more that I can't think of right now.
I am definitely loving it so far! I am picking up Spanish and making some great friends. It's also been such a whirlwind and I haven't had any down time which is tiring. I think I'm really going to like it here :)!