Why is life always so crazy!

19 Dec

Well I have just finished making myself some empanadas and eating some pineapple, now it is time to sit down and tell the story of what has been our lives for the last month.
Where to start, well lets start with the first time that I truly felt scared here in Quito. Typically here in Quito you really have to have your wits about you, but when you make good choices and stay out of dodgy areas things are typically going to be ok.
There are a few things that make me nervous here but only a few make me scared. One thing that kind of scares me but I am getting used to is riding with anyone from here that is driving! Interesting fact; the driving mentality not only exists on the road but it is brought into the grocery store as well, it is a dangerous place that grocery store!
But really most scared that I have been being here, was after a soccer game. Just imagine 10,000 angry losing away team fans being escorted out of the stadium by riot police! Then have those fans drive by you in their buses throw bottles at you, then pile off the buses and start fighting with the local fans from Quito, then having people yelling at you in Spanish telling you to run, run away! So we did. We found an alternative route to our destination, what an interesting day… Oh yeah did I also mention how nice it was when all of those fans leaving the stadium were yelling at us in broken English , really just being kinda rude, saying things like “Hey you!”, “Hey how are you, we are smoking Marijuana, Cheeba, do you want?”
So really it is just people that scare me, oh and earthquakes, I really don’t like earthquakes!!! But it is neat to be in one regardless…
Anyways enough of that. Well the last little while has been otherwise crazy for us, trying to sort our lives out, as things get stressful I have been finding new and inventive ways to deal with the stress.  I have been dealing with the stress by buying a tailor made suit, eating tons of empanadas (which I think that I have a great business idea!!!), drinking a few beers, juggling, and climbing up big volcanoes (I call this couples counseling). Speaking of climbing volcanoes 15000 ft is now the highest I have ever been. Also the last time were up Pichincha we ended up running down trying to beat what turned out to be the wildest hail storm that Quito has seen in 5 years, it looked like Christmas! And we were caught in the gondola when it started. Imagine being in a gondola with one-inch hail striking it! It was so loud! Then when we came down the streets became rivers. We really got insight into the way Ecuadorians think. Just to give you the picture, just imagine cruising down the road in a big van with a latin version of ‘I like to move it move it’ while the taxi driver cruises through the sloppy winter wonderland splashing every person standing on the side of the road and laughing at them! This is very typical for Ecuadorians to laugh at you when something is going wrong for you!
We were very lucky to have both Erin’s dad and my dad come and have a nice visit with us. We got to go and spend some time in some different areas in Ecuador, we went to the hot springs in an area called Papallacta, went to some great markets, the middle of the world where we stood on the equator, and then we went to the Amazon rain forest with my dad and they both got to really explore Quito. It was great to have them come and visit.
Well I guess that it is now time for me to contemplate what I am going to do with my life. Oh just to mention, I did indulge in the five dollar hair cut and it was awesome!

What is with those pants?

29 Oct

Well it has been a little while, and we have been very very busy! Life in Ecualandia is more than crazy and very exciting! Lots of exclamation marks!!!! Life in Ecuador is an interesting one. Life here is so much different, and when you think that nothing else here can surprise you, you see a dude peeing in the soccer game in public, in front of the whole crowd, then he stands in it and watches more of the game. I mean some things can really throw you for a loop…
In the last while we have really been able to experience Ecuadorian food, culture, and safety… I am first going to take a few seconds to explain about a few things that I don’t know how I will be able to go back to in Canada. The list starts with going to Starbucks to buy a coffee, second, paying upwards to $30 to get a haircut. Here you can get a haircut for $3.99. I am very serious here; in Edmonton I am always on the look out for a good deal on a haircut. Having cut my hair for all of the years in university, excluding the time I let the girls that lived on m

y floor in residence cut my hair before my sisters wedding because I thought they would do a better job then me (which they did, and that is a pretty good run on sentence). I mean I really like to find a good deal on a haircut. I rarely worry about the quality as I have a pretty low benchmark. I figure that the girl that will cut my hair here will do a better job than the girl I got to cut my hair before my own wedding, this little Ecuadorian girl will surely do a better job of cutting my hair than the overweight, dirty, girl that reeked of booze from Supercuts. I mean she almost cut my ear off, but it must be Karma after my sisters wedding and the other incident that will not be named. But speaking of that incident, I think that I am going to be eating guinea pig tomorrow! Well that was enough of a rant so it is time to move on…

We have had the opportunity to head out to different parts of Ecuador. Today we went to Papallacta, which is a one-horse town, literally, we saw him on the side of the road. The town is also the home of some sweet thermal

hot springs and a nice spa. We went and got massages and sat in the hot springs and took in the beautiful scenery. What a relaxing day, it totally beat going to work today! Another little trip that we took was to Mindo. Mindo is also a little tiny town that is nestled in the cloud forest, which is a biome that is

unique to Ecuador. We were able to take in the sights, we went and looked at some butterflies, tree frogs, where Erin almost fell in to a lake and of course we all laughed at her, stayed in a really cute hostel, ate great food and went on some zip lines. The zip lines were very sketch but of course I made the smart decision to hang from them up side down. I really had to look at the anchoring system and even convince my self that they were safe, but regardless it was fun. When you look at the overall safety of things in the country your standards are definitely lowered. In a country where it is actually safer to j-walk then cross at an intersection, you can also imagine how crazy it is to drive here. At home it is just crazy when some one make a crazy blind pass, well today we saw 4 almost head on collisions driving to Papallacta. You see the difference here is that the people that are driving on the road, which is in the middle of a cloud with about 10 feet of visibility, are surprisingly not on their cell phones. This does not excuse the impatience and death defying passes but it helps that the people on the road are actually paying attention to what is going on around them.

So in the middle of writing this blog I got up to go and see a bull fight with Warren, Erin’s dad. The experience in itself was not what I exactly pictured. I was the only person in the stands that was routing for the bull, but really how was I suppose to be routing for the matador. I mean really, I don’t feel that it was a very fare fight. The whole thing if you have never been to a bullfight it goes down like this; first the bull gets tired out then gets these little barbs stuck in him, then the matador comes strutting into the ring in his funny little outfit and taunts the bull with his little flag. I will tell you that if I wanted to show you how much of a man I was I would not be wearing a sequenced uni-tard nicker suit with a pair of bright pink knee high socks. Needless to say the bullfight was not for me but it was nice to see the matador get destroyed in the last round that we watched. The soccer game on the other hand was amazing, aside from the guys peeing in the bleachers (just to clarify it was not a place wear people were sitting or could sit), the game was amazing 2 goals in the first 10 minutes, fire works being set off in the crowd, people organizing themselves to bring enough instruments to form a full brass band and the home team won! What is there not to like? I think that I will stick to soccer!!!
Well tomorrow we are off for another adventure with our Spanish teacher. She is taking us to Otavalo to buy stuff in the markets and primarily practice our Spanish. We are going to be staying over night with her family in a town that is close to the market. Did I mention that I teach her daughter… weird huh? The funny part is that it does not seem weird at all. It should be lots of fun, I am sure that I will say something ridiculous in Spanish and everybody will laugh at me… As long as I am mentally ready for that then it will be a good day. I can’t wait to try the Cuy!!! Ed is going to be so proud of me!!! Hope that all are doing well, Much love!!
And leave a comment!

Lesson learned!

14 Sep

Jeff and I finally acted like the wild and crazy young couple we are….okay, we faked it a little. The other young (mostly single) American teachers got us to go out to *gasp* a bar past our bedtime *gasp* ! Alright, I am exaggerating our lame-ness just a little. It was a super fun Friday night! We were celebrating the birthday of another teacher and we had a group of about 15 go out to a Vietnamese restaurant for food and two for one martinis. We were out in the Mariscal district, where there about 20 hostels per square meter so it’s really busy, full of bars and young foreigners. After the restaurant we headed to one of the nearby establishments to continue the evening. I’m trying to keep this at least a semi-professional blog so I’ll just say that the altitude affects the rate at which one becomes intoxicated and also seemed to have an effect on the ability to remember Jeff’s “never drink past midnight” rule.

We had a great time, formed deeper relationships with our new friends, high-fived ourselves for being able to talk to the taxi driver enough to get us to Foch Plaza and laughed a lot. When we decided to head home much too late, maybe 1:30am….? And as soon as we walked 10 feet down the street to grab a cab we noticed the swarms of police. They wanted to see our Censo cards or our registered passports. We didn’t bring these things! After drunkenly whining to the police “no tengo, no tengo aqui” *sad face* one of our Spanish speaking friends explained to the cops that our passports were in the process of being registered so we didn’t have them. This bought us enough time to hop in a cab and go! Two of our friends had already booked it back to the bar upon hearing that we could actually be put in jail for not having any documents on us…crazy! The polic were not impressed, but let us go with a stern warning that we were out too late. The stupid thing is that I had my censo in my school desk. Agghh. I did have a copy of my passport but it had been copied prior to receiving my censo so it did not have the appropriate stamps yet. They took some information down but I’m sure nothing will come of it.

Primary moral of the story: Always carry ID or documents or photo copies! I made color copies today so I can leave the real things at home.

Secondary moral of the story: Always consider the following: “Is it worth wasting a beautiful Saturday in Quito to drink nasty, under-priced, over liquored cocktails at an extreme altitude with friends the night before?” Well, maybe this one time ; )

The children are coming…!!! Ahh!

4 Sep

Yep, Monday is the first official day of my career as an 8th grade English teacher. (It’s an American school, they don’t say grade 8.) Eighth grade?, you say…? Didn’t you tell me you were teaching ninth? Well, I thought so but on day 3 at the school they switched me into grade 8. Too bad I read like, 5 ninth grade novels over the summer 😦 Anyway, now that all the panicking is over I am really excited about this change. I start off my year with a unit on Greek Mythology – fun, right?! Then through the course of the year we take up 4 novels (The Westing Game, The Ear the Eye and the Arm, Princess Bride (woo!) and Among the Volcanoes) **if anyone has any resources for these texts please send them my way!!**, a modified Shakespeare play – probably Julius Caeser, learn tons-o-grammar and writing styles, and do a research project about the Galapagos Islands. In February-March-ish all of the grade 8s (and grade 8 teachers!!!) go on a field trip to the islands! I don’t have much info now, but I’ve heard it’s awesome! Here is half of my classroom, the other side has 3 large windows that look out onto the sports fields and the volcanoes in the distance. I get pretty distracted sitting at my desk… All of the classroom doors lead right outside , think motel-style instead of hotel.

I teach 4 blocks of students, 20 kids in each block. I teach them each 6 blocks a week so in total I teach 24 out of 35 blocks and the other 11 are my preps. My students are almost all local (wealthy) Ecuadorians who are learning core subjects in English but they also take Spanish classes. We expect the same amount of classroom management as at home, will update you on whether or not that is the case! The curriculum is quite strict and set in stone so I don’t really have a choice on the novels I get to teach. And unfortunately due to curriculum changes, I am required to make 5 out of 6 of the units from scratch….So I’m no longer excited about the whole Atlas program I discussed before! Oh well, I survived grade 11 I’m sure 8th will be a breeze.

On Friday after school a bunch of teachers stayed for 2 hours to play sports in the gym. I hope we do this every Friday…I need to improve my volleyball skills! Jeff played basketball and is happy to report minor improvements!

Well, we are mostly swamped with lesson planning (it is mandatory to submit daily lesson plans to the supervisor here) and classroom set-up but we’ve found a bit of time to relax and have fun too. One night we went over to Guapulo to visit with a bunch of teachers and have an impromptu pizza party. We discovered that Jeff is not the only one who has had some foreign country mishaps – turns out another couple was accidentally “disinfecting” their fruit with plant fertilizer…I will admit though, the bottles of antibacterial do strike a resemblance to this particular bottle of fertilizer. Poor guys. They are okay, don’t worry!

Right now something we are really excited about is the fact that we found ourselves a Spanish tutor! She is going to come to our house 2 nights a week for some private instruction. Can’t wait! Although, it is super fun taking taxis around here  when you can’t talk to the driver! Sometimes they just keep talking to us. In Spanish. I figure last time we managed to have a bit of a conversation with our driver – he asked if we were American, then was quite pleased to find out we were Canadian, we talked about being English speaking teachers at Colegio Menor and he told us that he wants to learn English… I think. We will never really know if we truly understood each other or were both having different conversations.

Jeff and I really want to adopt a street puppy. Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen even though it’s very tempting because they’re so cute and sometimes look really hungry… Anyway – this next photo is from yesterday when we walked up to the view point of parque metropolitano. It is a huge forest/greenspace/sports/picnnic/camping area that divides the city and the valley. So we live on the city side and the view in the photo is of the valley where we go to work everyday. It is a 20-30 minute bus ride on the school faculty shuttle. It is really nice to go up into the park because there are lots of eucalyptus trees which makes for nice fresh air. Quito is extremely polluted (compared to what we are used to) and the air quality is not so nice, especially in the afternoons and if it hasn’t rained for a few days.
Last night we also went out to a restaurant for dinner for the first time. We had more empanadas de viento con queso (the same ones I posted a picture of in the last entry) and filet mignon wrapped in bacon with mushroom sauce. Super super good food at a really nice restaurant right across the street from our apartment. The most important thing to note is that we didn’t get sick at all! I got really sick the day after we made our first dinner at home. No idea what caused it. I was told that everyone has to pay the “tropical tax” – having horrible stomach pains and tossing cookies in the cab ride home – in exchange for living near the equator. Glad that’s over. I missed the Papallacta hot springs trip because of it…We will have to go another time.

So we haven’t had too many adventures outside of Quito/Cumbaya yet but I think next weekend we are going to a market town north of the city called Otavalo. Right now it’s been enough of an adventure getting used to our new life. Most importantly: WE ARE NOW ACCEPTING VISITORS AND HOUSE GUESTS! Please come visit! We have an extra bed! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, right?

Leave a comment, chao!

Life is good in Quito

29 Aug

Well as the school year is starting up Erin has enlisted me as the official blog writer for now as her schedule is a bit more chaotic than mine.  But as I see it, if she gets to go to the Galapagos Islands with school, she better have to work a bit harder.

These last couple of weeks have been a wild ride for us but we are starting to get settled.  We have found a beautiful apartment in a great area with great amenities.  Our building has a roof top patio, and at night it give us a view of Quito’s sea of lights rolling through the valley.  We are in a location that allows us to walk to a great deli, cafes, and bakeries, where you can go and get an ‘expensive’ (in relative terms) coffee and baked good for both Erin and I for $5 or less.

I have found that moving here has been stressful for me on many levels; not knowing how to prepare some of the food, learning the language, and playing basketball.  I know that the road to learning the language will be a long one, but I really have been discouraged in many ways.  An example would be the Internet installers laughing at me as I obviously fumbled through trying to communicate with them.  When I think back it may have been the copy of Pobre Ana that I had on the bed that they were laughing at (Pobre Ana is a kids book that I am using to learn Spanish).   I am getting used to making mistakes like this one “ huelo muy malo”  I was trying to say that a truck smelt bad but in actuality I said that I smell really bad.

Here in Ecuador it is very common to get sick either from the food or the water.  Most people have just come to grips with it and have accepted that they will get sick every couple of months.  Another one of my few mishaps is that I accidentally ate a raw sausage.  In my defense it looked good, tasted good, and at home a sausage usually can be eaten raw.  It was not till the next day that I was informed of what I had done and what the repercussions could be.  My mind started going crazy thinking about all of the parasites that I learned about in my biology classes in university.  But I have been told that I have a strong stomach to be able to handle that raw sausage.  I wonder where my strong stomach was when I decided to try a Baconator!  I think that I would rather eat another piece of that raw sausage than another Baconator…

I have been able to start to get involved with a few cultural things in the last couple of days, I ran in the Ruta de la Iglesias last night and played basketball with some locals in the park (Carolina park) by our house.  The race was amazing!  It was cool enough to think that we were running at 10,000ft above sea level, but the whole race was at night through the city.  I ran in the race with two other teachers that I work with at the school.  We attempted to sign up but all 6,000 spaces in the race were already filled up.  So we took a taxi to the start line and jumped into the race.  We were not the only ones that did this as it was estimated that 8,000 people ran through the narrow streets of Quito.  So really it was the coolest casual run that I have ever done.  There were local bands playing at every corner, we ran by 13 of the biggest churches in Quito that were beautifully illuminated, and then at the end of the run there were fire works.

Today I decided to head to the park and play some basketball with some other teachers from the school.  We played some locals in one game and they destroyed us.  We only had three players so we had to pick up another and it happened to be a women that is probably my mothers age, so around 40 or so.  We had a solid 6-8inch advantage on the other team, other than the local gal.  I learned three things today: 1.  I really need to learn how to speak Spanish 2. The locals can call a foul on you even if you don’t touch them and … 3.  I really suck at basketball!  I am going to practice this week at school!  I don’t want to feel that that the forty year old women that spent most of her time talking to the guys on the side line is better than I am.

At school, this last week and a half, it has been a learning experience for both Erin and I; learning how the school works, trying to make sense of the curriculum, how to get around the school, mentally prepare ourselves for the students and I have had to make some personal changes.  I know that you are probably thinking that I was placed with an ethical dilemma but that is not it.  I have decided that this year the students will pronounce my name in a different manner not ‘mick cool in’ but ‘Mick Kull En’ .  I feel that I am shaming my family in some way but I feel that it must be done.  I have found out that my last name actually has a bad word in it in Spanish the way that I normally pronounce it.  I will give you the word even though I know the possible repercussions amongst some of my friends: culo and the students would pick up and probably call me – mi culo. Which means… I am an ass.

Well I had a cheese fondue with the host parents tonight, and I fear the fondue hangover tomorrow, so I better head off!

Settling in

21 Aug

Our first day at Colegio Menor San Fransisco de Quito (from now on to be known as ‘Menor’) was on Wednesday August 17th. About 20 new teachers from America, Holland, Ecuador and other South American countries arrived for orientation day. Jeff and I are the only new teachers from Canada but I believe there is one more returning teacher from Montreal. We are simply known as ‘the Canadians’.  Menor is a beautiful school on a huge campus. There are 1500 students from Pre-K to grade 12. The cafeteria serves a large variety of food every day and one can easily buy a whole lunch for less than $3. From Wednesday to Friday we participated in a variety of sessions to get to know the policies of the school, ecuador culture and safety etc… Orientation has been pretty dry, but it is definitely nice to socialize and get familiar with the school before classes start, even if we do spend an hour learning how to use Outlook… Jeff has his grade six math/science classroom set up already and I am still waiting on mine. I will be teaching 5 classes of grade nine English a day, 20 students in each class, 45 minute blocks. I get two 45 minute blocks each day for prep, which is really great! I am already friends with the 8th grade English teacher, she is an American who has been living and teaching in Ecuador for the past 2 years at a different school so she is quite knowledgeable about the students and what level they are at. Our school follows the UBD or “backward design” unit planning for all units. Luckily, I was given a PD opportunity at Scona to learn about UBD and practice it so I know what it is now. The great thing about this is that the majority of units we have to teach are ALREADY PLANNED and available through our curriculum website, Atlas. Teacher friends will understand the greatness of this. All of the curriculum outcomes and enduring understandings are selected for each unit, as well as the materials, assignments and assessments, both formative and summative. Oh, the school is huge on formative assessment…Some daily lesson plans are available for modification as well. The expectations are a lot higher for teachers, though. For example, I am required to submit the next full week’s daily lesson plans to my supervisor every Thursday. Yikes! I don’t think I’ve ever really been planned more than 2 days in advance! I’m sure it will be manageable though as the lesson plans don’t have to be super detailed. Okay I won’t bore you with more school stuff for now. First day for students is September 5th so I’m sure there will be lots to write about.

On Saturday morning the school took 12 new teachers on a city tour of Quito. It was just a quick tour to show us where things are so that we can go explore them on our own later. The city feels a little less intimidating now, and we definitely have plans to return to certain areas to learn more. There is a church downtown that is gold inside. Google ‘gold church in quito’ and you will see! Also, we want to return to Mercado Artesanal (a market in old Quito) to buy some alpaca blankets for our new apartment. First we have to hone our bargaining skills!

Yes, we finally decided on an apartment. Of course, it was the first one we looked at – we were very lucky that it was still available 5 days later!! We probably looked at 10+ apartments in total, dragging Paty all around the city. After looking in the city, we decided we want to live in the valley in Cumbaya close to the school. Unfortunately there were not many apartments available and they were quite expensive. Twice we got screwed over by crazy landlords who would rather rent their suite to a friend for 3 weeks than secure a full year’s rent… crazy, no?!?! In fact, we were only able to look at 2 apartments in Cumbaya. One of them was the winner all the way – perfect location to the Supermaxi (chain of supermarkets) and the school, beautiful secure community, most spacious, well-priced, nice neighbors….but….no furniture! Like, NO furniture. Not even a fridge….nothing. Why did this guy show us his perfect apartment?!?! He knew we didn’t want to buy anything in terms of beds, microwaves, plates, chairs etc… SOOO frustrating. So we decided that the first apartment we looked at in Quito was the best choice. It has a few things that are very hard to come by here; washer and dryer for clothes (dryers are very rare), all kitchen supplies already in the cupboard, small kitchen appliances, tv, rooftop patio with barbeque and many other conveniences. Pics to come! We get shuttle service to the school each day and all of the other new teachers live in Quito so it will be easy to go out and have fun. We move in today at 4:00pm but first we are going to the “Megamaxi” to buy groceries with Paty in tow to tell us what to get! The Megamaxi is like a SuperWalmart so they offer more than just groceries – we will buy some bedding and any other random house stuff we might need. With all expenses included our rent will be around $660/month which is exactly what the school covers for us. Most of the other teachers found places under $500 but many of them are singles and only get $350/month from the school. With our double income we could be a bit more picky 😉

Here is one of the fruits I like: Taxo. You cut it in half and slurp out the tangy, slimy, seedy insides. Yep.

These are a very traditional variety of empanadas, light and fluffy with a cheese filling and sugar on top. So good!

We went out the other night to a restaurant in Quito called Cafe Mosaico (also google-able). Anyone who comes to visit will be treated to a visit there for sure! It is probably my new favorite restaurant of all time. So beautiful inside and out and delicious food. I tried to upload a photo of the view from our table but it didn’t work. They are the nighttime Quito shots on my facebook page or go to the restaurant webpage.

Anyway, I have tried to keep everything on here pretty positive, but there are difficulties as well. I have been fighting with altitude sickness all week and while it is not as bad or as violent as I thought, it does get in the way of having a good time. Our stomachs are adjusting to new food, we suffer from a major language barrier and being stuck in traffic is just a little worse here than it is at home. We never know how to dress because in the morning it can be 6 degrees or 16 degrees, in the afternoon 16 or 26 and at night it might drizzle or typhoon rain! Culture shock is a reality but for us we are trying to remain non-judgmental and realize that things are not better at home, they are just different. Today we end our stay with Paty and Ana Maria but I know we will remain very close with them throughout the year. They have already invited us over for cheese fondue next weekend! That’s all for now – please say hello if you have stopped by to read!

The beginning

16 Aug

Where to start..? I guess in Edmonton, where we started. Thanks for the awesome going away party! We are so lucky to have the best friends and family. Good times.

Our flight path was YEG-Denver-Miami-Quito. We planned for our 8 hour layover in Denver to be tons-o-fun; pizza, hun-cal-fro-yo (see popculture reference here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gspaoaecNAg), rocky mountain caramel apples, TV series ‘Heroes’ marathon and all the other airport fun one could think of. Yes – those flat escalator things that make you walk really fast included. Alas, 6 episodes of superhero adventure drama gave me a headache and one can only speed walk for so long in the mile-high city before feeling short of breath and somewhat like a loser. So Denver was not so fun. Anticipating another 8 hour layover in Miami, we decided to book a day-rate hotel and have a nice nap; it was lovely.

When we went back to the airport well rested to catch our 2PM flight to Quito we were informed that the flight was delayed until 10:45 PM. Luckily, LAN Ecuador airlines had plans arranged for guests to go back to a hotel (different than the one we had just come from) for the day with lunch (almuerzo) and dinner (cena) included. Nothing interesting to write about – it was 37 million degrees in Florida but we had to wear sweaters inside for the air conditioning. We napped and ate, lacking an appropriate change of clothes to go adventuring outside.

Our arrival to Quito went smoothly, even though we were picked up at about 2:30AM. Ruben, the HR guy from Colegio Menor, and Patti, our host for the first few weeks gave us a ride the home where we will be staying until we find our own apartment. Patti lives here with her daughter Ana Maria (university student) and her maid,  Sara. Oh and their schnauzer, Rufo. It is a huge, beautiful home on a family estate in Tumbaco and we have our own room with ensuite bathroom.

In the morning, Sara made us a breakfast of papaya, pineapple, eggs, toast, yogurt, cheese and juice. There is a huge bundle of fruits in the corner of the kitchen that we have never seen before –very excited to try them!

On Monday, our first day in Quito, Patti drove us around Tumbaco, Cumbaya and Quito. It is VERY different here. Soon I will take pictures to share. The roads only feel slightly crazier than at home, I would not want to drive here but everyone who lives here seems to know what is going on so it’s all good. As we were driving around taking in the city and the sights I felt very happy and thankful to have the opportunity to be here and see something new. Coming to South America has confirmed that I have the “travel bug” and I must see MORE!! (Sorry, mom.) Patti and Ana Maria are amazing hosts, they speak a lot of English so it’s been easy to communicate. They took us out for empanadas and guanabana juice at a shop that is right by Colegio Menor. So good! Unfortunately, it was too soon before lunch and Sara had already made avocado soup, rice and fried shrimp for lunch. Well, we ate it anyway even though we were full. When someone tells you it is traditional to put popcorn on top of creamy soups, how can you resist? After lunch we began our apartment hunt. We saw a variety of buildings and suites ranging from $440 to $600 per month. I think I will write more about apartments in another post since we are still looking. In the evening we had tea and more exotic fruits (can’t remember the names) with some of Patti’s family members. They had lots of questions about Canada so that was fun. Around 6PM Quito’s altitude finally got to me. At 10,000 feet there is considerably less oxygen in the air so I ended up with a massive headache and a little nausea topped off by homesickness due to the realization that I will LIVE here for a year… I went to bed at 7:00 and slept till 10:00 today so I feel WAY better! It’s been hot and sunny and we need to learn Spanish ASAP…. Today Jeff accidentally told Patti “I smell really bad” when he meant to say “it smells really bad”. Definitely had a few laughs over that one!

Today is Tuesday (martes) and so far we have gone for ice cream (helados), had another delicious lunch and are now getting ready to continue the apartment hunt!  We are looking at two in Quito and then we will see downtown in the evening. I don’t know what else to write for now…ask questions! Will have photos soon, see ya later, thanks for reading!