Original date: June 17, 2014
With such a hectic two weeks, I have yet to consistently post on this blog. However, I have been keeping up with my weekly reflections and homework assignments, so everything is still fresh on my mind.
My first day in Quito… well, I arrived to Ecuador at around 11PM on Sunday (the 8th) because of my delayed connection flight in San Antonio to Houston, TX. I wouldn’t have minded the delay if it were for a few hours rather than it being 24 hours – meaning I would miss orientation with the rest of the program.
The upside to the delay was that I met two El Salvadorian families in the same connection flight who were also delayed a full day, so we spent the night at the same hotel in Houston. They were extremely nice, caring, and talkative. I was so relieved to have someone to spend a couple hours with and to travel alongside.
My amazing friends Mini and Victoria visited me, and I was so happy to catch up with them after spending a month apart (yes, such a long time!). We spent quite a few hours talking in the lobby, and they left me with appreciation for the people I will dearly miss on this 8-week trip.
The next morning I hopped on the shuttle to the airport with the family I met, and I was on my way… to enjoy 4 solid hours at the airport by myself – YAY! Well, I did get some of my reading done for my PJHC program.
Once my flight was boarding, I got super anxious. I couldn’t believe that after a few months of planning this trip, I was on my way to beautiful Quito, Ecuador. AHHHHHHHHH. Seriously. I walked onto the plane, down the aisle towards my seat to find someone already situated there. Oh, crap. They must’ve messed up my seat (DARN DELAY). I turned to the flight attendant and showed her my ticket… then she told the woman to take her ticket out, and (of course) this woman flips out and makes me look like I’m the rude one. Thank God that my ticket was correct. I simply looked away from this woman and took my seat.
I sat next to two Ecuadorian men – around 28 years old and early 60s. Both were incredibly nice as we talked about the reasoning of our trips to Quito. They were going back home, and I was visiting their land for the first time. They gave me a few tips on what to visit and bid them farewell once we landed. After an hour or so of going through customs, I grabbed my bags and went to the exit to see wait for my driver. I looked around and saw this man holding two signs – one with my name and another with “William Gardner” on it (BTW I received an email a few weeks before the start of the program with the names of the June participants). I approached the man – dressed in a black tee, jeans, boots, and a ponytail with two piercings on one ear. Marco is his name and we stood next to one another as we waited for Billy. Then, off we went on our 1.5 hr trip towards the center of Quito.
We dropped Billy off first, and I arrived at my homestay at a little bit before 2 AM. I did not get a great look at the house or the family, but as I walked into my room I noticed someone sleeping on the bed next to mine. Although I tried to be as quiet as possible, I woke up Marissa – my wonderful roommate. We stayed up talking for a bit, but realized we had to wake up super early for breakfast and classes, thus we knocked out.
In the morning, I met Sara and Amanda – my other housemates. After a short breakfast of café con leche, pan and fruta.
We were off to Amazing Andes Spanish School for classes. Once I took my placement exam, I went to the advanced class with none other than Marco as my Spanish teacher. There I met my awesome classmates: Bertha, Olivia, Kevin, Moira, Gabriel, Billy, Taylor, Monique, and Margot. We had class the whole day (7 hours) with 2 15-minute breaks and an hour for lunch. For our break, we went to two nearby coffee shops, Sweet & Coffee and Coffee & Co.
For our lunch, I went with Monique, Margot, Caitlin and Billy to the Mercado Inaquito and grabbed an almuerzo for $2.50. I was introduced to the traditional Seco de Pollo almuerzo, which is pretty good.
At around 4 PM, my roommates and I went to put saldo on our EcuaCells, with no luck. So off we went back to Villalengua and Sancho de Escobar (our homestay) for a 20 minute trek up a steep hill. At around 7PM, we were served a cena, and then we spent the rest of the night talking. We went to sleep early (this altitude got us BEAT).