I’ve been in Ecuador for almost 3 days now, and I’m loving it. Which says a lot! I knew I would like it here, but my level of comfort and false sense of familiarity for this new country is quite the pleasant surprise. Mom, before you text me saying “Don’t let a false sense of familiarity get you Taken!,” I would like to say that I don’t mean I’m going to walk the streets alone at night without a map. I just mean that Quito’s timezone is the same as my hometown’s, my American electronics work in these outlets without an adapter, and I have a host dog.
That’s right. Mi little host perro. His name is Bancho (It may actually be Pancho, jury’s out) and he’s a Schnauzer. Much more alert and agile and groomed than the little shih tzus I have back in the States, but he begs for my every bite of food and that makes me feel right at home. When we are alone in the kitchen I also like to call him mi little empanada, taco, etc. We love each other.
That entire paragraph about the pup was to say that I feel very comfortable here so far. We’re sharing a room and we have an amazing view of roosters and cows and mountains in the morning when we wake up.
I’ve also found that really interesting: Ecuador obviously doesn’t have zoning laws so you can have cows, a condo, and a $900/ a month private school all on the same block. Which brings me to mi escuela…
The school is SO. NICE. Apparently my father was under the impression that I’d be bringing crayons and American knowledge to a small, one-roomer in the middle of the jungle. Sorry, dad…I am the underprivileged one in this situation. The school is extremely expensive, especially by Ecuadorean standards, and my kids are “the richest kids in Ecuador” according to my mentor teacher. Their parents own rose plantations, Cinemark Ecuador, probably islands…I don’t know. They travel to Miami on long weekends and they’d probably feel bad for me if they knew my airy spring sweater was from a thrift store. That being said, they are so sweet. They are chatty and smart and friendly and funny. My teacher also explained that, in reality, the school’s number one focus is not academia. It’s social growth. (I mean, they’re socialites…I get it). They have an almost 30 minute “break” time for chatting and playing, and a very long lunch. It’s kind of the best. That being said, as I type this entry they are taking a test on fractions and their little brains have been so stressed out about the exam so I guess they haven’t gotten the priorities memo.
After their exam, there won’t be much school day left. Today starts the 3 and a half day weekend and I am SO EXCITED FOR NOON. We are leaving after school to go to the bus station in Quito and take a 5 hour ride to Banos. (I don’t know how to type a tilde over that n). Trip Advisor tells me Banos is a really really cool place right outside the jungle. It has waterfalls and rafting and canoeing and hiking and zip-lining and crazy tree swings on the edges of cliffs. We aren’t sure exactly what we’ll be doing once we get there but we have 3 nights and 3 days to fill up with rainforest-y shenanigans and I’m ready to get rollin’.
Raquel, our sweet host mama, is taking us to the bus station in a few hours. It’s funny, because at first I thought she was saying she wanted to go with us and I asked her if her sister wanted to come too. They’re both older women (probably 60’s), so it was an embarrassing miscommunication on my part. Sigh.
I know the 21st century reader likes to keep online leisure material at a minimum, even if that reader is my best friend back home. SO, I’m going to post what we’ve tentatively decided to do during our 4 weeks here and try to leave it at that.
Weekend 1: Banos / Weekend 2: Mindo (cloud forest) / Weekend 3: the beach / Weekend 4: the Amazon
We also have a free day in a couple weeks (Ecuadorean labor day), and we’re going to spend that day in a nearby city called Otavallo at Ecuador’s largest outdoor market. Can’t. Wait. Love. Markets.
I’ll stop for now 🙂