Journals from Semester abroad in Quito, Ecuador
2008-01-16 Hello Quito; time for orientation!
Sunset over Central America (from the plane window)
Hello ladies and gents, I'm Lily and I'm spending this semester in Ecuador. I've been here for a week and a half, and since I have internet at my house and have been mailing lots of stories to family and friends anyway, I might as well share them here too! I'll start with the e-mails from last week, just so you don't jump into the middle of the story:
Hi everybody, I just wanted to let you know (ok, well, mostly let Mom know) that I made it all the way here with suitcases and everything, though due to a two hour wait to get through customs here in Quito we got to the house at 1 am!
I should drink some water and go to sleep pretty soon, Ill write everyone in the next couple days. Orientation starts tomorrow morning, and we have to leave the house by 8:15, so good night!
PS: the keyboards here are different, it took me forever to type this!
One thing I really meant to put in the e-mail yesterday: I found Japanese people on the plane from Houston to Quito! We were sitting in the very last row of the plane, and three older folks were waiting in line, and I thought I caught a couple words of Japanese, so I waited a bit till I was sure they really were speaking Japanese, and I asked the little old lady closest to me, in Japanese, if they were going to stay in Quito. She was very sweet, and we talked for a little while, then I talked to her friend for a little while. They were from Tokyo, going on vacation to Quito and the Galapagos for the first time, and they asked all about my trip, and what I was studying, and all that jazz. Then eventually the bathrooms opened up, and they came and went. About fifteen minutes later, the first little old lady I talked to came back to our row with a beautiful fan and two tiny Japanese pouches, one for coins and one for Kleenex. She handed them to me, and said in English, "A present for you. Thank you for Japanese, it very good!" She was so sweet! She also gave me a piece of paper, which I later figured out was a copy of their whirlwind tour package itinerary, all in Japanese. I'll bring it home, maybe we can use it in class!
Today didn't start out so well...I woke up on time, at 6, to unpack a little bit, figure out the morning routine, and get ready to leave for class. My host mom, who is a wonderful, friendly lady, made me some juice out of guanabanas (I'm not sure what that means in English, but it was a tasty fruit), eggs, and a little sandwich. I was feeling a little dizzy because of the altitude (we're at about 9,500 feet, which would be two thirds of the way up Mount Rainier), but I didn't want to be rude so I ate a bit anyway. Unfortunately, when I finished and headed over to my room to figure out what I was going to wear and take a shower, I had to run to the bathroom sink and was unable to hang on to my breakfast. But really, I didn't mind much, because it made me feel a lot better and the rest of the day I didn't really have any problems.
My host sister Carla helped me find the right buses for the hour commute to la Universidad de San Francisco de Quito. Orientation was pretty boring, because they talked to us in English most of the day about things that we had mostly already been told, but they gave us a helpful tour of the beautifully landscaped campus. There's an Asian theme, actually, and the yoga/meditation classes are in a wooden pagoda next to a little lake, and there is a big monument covered in Chinese characters which I really wished were in Japanese.
Anyway, Carla picked me up in the family car around 2:30 and we went back to the house. I unpacked a bit, then we bought me a cell phone. Sadly, when we got back to the house la mama was having heart problems that I guess she has on and off, so we had to take her to the hospital. She has an artery that is 60% blocked, apparently, and has episodes sometimes that make her feel agitated, tired, and of course worried. She was all right for now, though, so we went back to the house in less than an hour. She's going in tomorrow for more appointments.
Goodness gracious, I wrote a lot. Things won't always seem so new, so I'll probably be more concise in the future...maybe...If not, you don't have to read all the way through!
Marley, I forgot to tell you yesterday: they played Hairspray on the second plane on Sunday, and since Lisa, Araceli and I were in the very last row we danced away in our seats! Araceli knew all the words, because her little sister got the movie and the soundtrack for Christmas too, just like mine!
Today went pretty smoothly. Carla took the bus with me to school, then I spent the day at orientation. Today was much more interesting, although they spoke to us in English, because most of the speakers were hilarious. El presidente de la universidad is (according to the woman who gave the introduction) "medio loco" (a little crazy), and his speech definitely showed it! Let's just say he isn't anywhere near politically correct, but he was certainly entertaining.
Carla was feeling sick this afternoon, so my host mom called my new cell phone and asked if I could make it home all right on my own. I had never gone home by bus before (alone or with Carla), but it wasn't too hard and I made it without any problems. Yesss! Oh, and by the way, I just found out that if I receive a call, it doesn't use up any of my minutes, so feel free to call me, familia!
Carla and I spent the afternoon playing cards and listening to music from my laptop. She was pretty excited that I had Mana, Ricardo Arjona, Jerry Rivera, etc! I learned a game called "forty" that I'll have to remember for you guys; it's a lot of fun.
I'm sure I won't write daily for long, once classes start and I have homework and (hopefully) some amigas, but for now I guess you're hearing from me a lot!
I hope everyone is doing well, nos vemos en mayo (or agosto, if you're at Linfield),