Happy Friday! Today is my last day of orientation . . . and living in Quito. Wow! It is hard to believe that 4 weeks have passed so quickly. In this post, I will once again tell you about some experiences I have recently had in Ecuador and then share the thoughts I had during and after those events.
My Thoughts: First off, here is a view from the back of the bus. Now you can get an idea of what it looks like. 🙂 This is a very empty bus and doesn´t really give you a true idea of the complete experience. However, it was interesting riding a bus to and from orienatation each day. I have never commuted via public transportation on a regular basis. Overall, I really enjoyed it. I liked not having to drive or pay attention to traffic. I also liked feeling like a part of the community, even though I don´t think I was ever viewed that way on the surface. Sometimes, I would look around the bus and notice that I was definitely the only one that did not have dark, brown hair. Those were the times I was reminded that I stood out and others definitely viewed me as a Gringa. What I did not like about the bus were the crowds in the afternoons (seriously, it was body to body) and the need to always be alert to ensure my bag did not get stolen. Although I never felt as though my bag was in danger, we were remineded several times to hold a death grip on our things in order to be less vulnerable to crime. This is also why I gave “evil eyes” to others to show them that I was paying attention.
Event: One Saturday evening, the WorldTeach volunteers rented a Chiva Bus. This bus is also known as a party bus. It has an open back and holds about 40 people. The bus drives around town for two hours.
My Thoughts: I had never heard of such a thing! I was so confused when the idea was presented to our group. After asking a few clarifying questions about what we actually did on the bus, I decided to sign-up. 🙂 We met at 6:00pm and the bus drove us around Quito. The music started, the disco ball began turning, and people started dancing and having a great time! I found it entertaining that something like this would never be legal in the United States. Everyone was standing and dancing (without seatbelts – oh dear) and there was open alcohol. The legal system in the U.S. wouldn´t even know where to begin. I am glad I went and had a good time talking, laughing, and dancing with other volunteers.
Event: I visited Midad del Mundo (The Middle of the World) with my host mom, Susana. After spending a couple of hours there, we visited another museum. Apparently, the second museum (although much smaller than the other one) has the “accurate” equator line as a result of a GPS reading from 15 years ago. We went on a tour there and had an opportunity to perform “equatorial” activities.
My Thoughts: I need to be honest here . . . the tourist location where 99% of people go to visit the Equator was big, crowded, and a bit boring. After visiting for two hours, I was hungry, tired, and ready to go home. Susana I left the attraction and I was hoping that we were going to lunch. We walked about five minutes and headed into a museum . . . not lunch. I was not happy, but did my best to have a positive attitude. I did not want to visit another museum about the Equator. (I know I kind of sound like a baby here, but it is how I really felt.) We got an English speaking tour guide (yee-haw) and began the tour. Immediately, my negative feelings and bad attitude dissolved. I absolutely loved the tour. We had the opportunity to experience the gravitational pull at the Equator. We watched water drain in different directions, attempted to balance an egg on a nail, and felt the pull on either side of us as we walked in a straight line on the Ecuator. It was a really great time and I am so glad we went!
Event: Four other volunteers and I took the Teleferico one Saturday. We rode in a trolley and saw several views of Quito from Pinchincha. We also got to pet some alpacas!
My Thoughts: I wish I could tell you the facts about the Teleferico and all of the sights, but truthfully, I don´t know them. However, what I enjoyed about this experience was twofold. First, it was beautiful to ride in the Teleferico and see Quito and the surrounding areas from a different perspective. While it was a little scary, I think that added to the excitement of the experience. Next, this was one of the first times I had made plans to hang out with other volunteers outside of orientation. For me, it was comforting to have friends that I wanted to spend time with and experience a new activity with aside from our regular routine.
My Thoughts: On Wednesday evening, I received information about the family I will live with for approximately 10 months in Riobamba. It sounds like I have another wonderful family. There is also a 3 month old baby at the house! 🙂 As I had mentioned previously, it will be difficult to adjust to a new environment and family. However, it is nice to know that I will live with this family for longer than one month. It is also exciting to know that I can settle in more and establish a few roots. I update you as soon as I start to get settled.
Well . . . that´s it for now. As I´ve said before, if there is anything you are wondering about Ecuador that you would like me to find out for you, please let me know. I am happy to learn with you. Until next time, thanks for reading.