The entire airport/plane ride experience went way better than I could have ever imagined. Everything was on time, all of my bags made it fine, both the staff and passengers were incredibly helpful, and I met some really nice people on my way to Quito who gave me great advice.
Once I got to my homestay (around 3:30), I unpacked and immediately went out with one of the other interns to go explore Quito (easier said than done, considering population-wise it’s 3 times the size of Portland.) We went around to a park that had some amazing crafts for sale–I fell in love with all the colors they used. We also ordered food and had no idea what we were getting. But by the time it came, we had paid $2 for delicious cheese and vegetable soup, rice, beef, french fries, avocado,and tomato. Best part: my stomach totally held up on the first day.
Quick observations made about the country in less than 15 hours:
-People on the roads asking for money will actually get in front of cars when they’re stopped and do tricks, like juggling. Others sell oranges or bottled water.
-You could not pay me to drive here. It’s terrifying. I can’t seem to pick up on any basic rule that people follow to make sure not to crash. I’ll have to keep watching and see if I end up picking up on anything.
-The driving thing kind of goes hand and hand with being a pedestrian. So far I will only cross at crosswalks, and we waited until there was a sea of people in the street before venturing out. Sometimes there are security guards (different than the police) that cross with everyone to make sure cars stop.
-There are street dogs EVERYWHERE. Most of them seem cute and harmless, but you’re supposed to shoo them away with your hands or feet, because you don’t know when one will get aggressive or if they have rabies (super small chance).
-My Spanish sucks. Luckily, when people see us, they seem to slow down and exaggerate pronunciation, which is super nice. Even after they do that, I pick up about 1/2 of what they’re saying. Also luckily, most people here are super animated about what they’re talking about, so I can make decent guesses by their actions and facial expressions. I’m really excited to start my classes on Monday.
-So far, people have been really nice. All day yesterday the kids would get in trouble from their parents for staring. Most of them seemed to be pretty intrigued by my hair.
-Believe it or not, this place gives me allergies. I figured if I didn’t have them in Eugene, I’d be in the clear for practically anywhere. I was wrong. Thankfully someone had warned me about this possibility before I left, and I picked up some allergy meds that will last me a while.
That’s it for now! So far, my first few hours here have been wonderful. I can’t wait to keep sharing what I see. Today I think we’re headed to the supermarket — thank goodness because I’m not used to this whole “only drink bottled water” thing.