My journey to a foreign land Rotating Header Image

Falling in love…

with Quito, Ecuador has begun.  I arrived this morning around one.  I did not see any of the city on the 1995 Ford Explorer car ride to the house (the first vechile I have ridden in that was not a bus or a glorified go-kart – the taxis in Cusco).

I was met by the two brothers (I think one is in the family by marriage) they took my bags and we began the race home.  Similar to driving in Washington, DC and Charlottesvill, Va – green means -“Keep hauling ass,” yellow means – “Peddle to the medal,” and red means – “I wasn’t going fast enough.”  The same laws apply in this city.

We pull up to the biggest house that I have seen in South America that has not been an embassy and the garage door opens up automatically.  Open the door and vodka is being poured and dominos played.  I walked up the three flights of stairs to my vaulted cieling room with two double beds.  “You can use whichever bed you want,” my new brother told me.

After a shower with hot water and steady pressure I met the other student living with them, a girl from Germany who does not speak English or Spanish really well, we will see how that works out.  Maybe I can start German lessons.

I laid in bed thinking.  The feelings were similar when I first arrived in Cusco (minus the hour or so of crying this time).  I know no one here, this is uncomfortable because it is new and unknown, and I hope the family does not turn out to be crazy.  I began to miss Cusco – a feeling I did not expect.  I knew I would miss the family and friends, but I was also missing the familiarity of the city.  Quito is HUGE.  Lines on the roads – which are clearly marked with their names, traffic lights and signs, and massive red public transport buses (the kind that are two connected by a giant rubber slinky) that have their own special lanes outfitted with stations made just for them and their 3 automatic door.  Waiting to get on reminded me of waiting for a rollercoaster.  Their are lanes for each door – the bus pulls up to you  and the ramp is released down then the double doors opened, all of this with the hiss of hydraulics.

I rode for free into the city (that is standard, I did not receive special attention) and just decided to hop off at the “Casa de Cultura” station.  Greeted by a park – similar to Central Park, not as big but impressive – where a sort of craft fair was happening.  Here though no merchandise was being forcibly pushed on me, I was free and content to browse without being afraid to look for to long and attract the nagging attention of the shop keep.  Kids were in the little cars that they propelled like a bicycle and herds of bike riders.  Maybe it is the national pass time or today was a special holiday for it but I have never seen so many riding bikes.  I was tempted to go see if I could rent one and join.

I strolled on to another park.  A park full of modern art – it is next to the National Museum, Theatre, and cinema.  There were horses, well large ponies, grazing on the green grass.  I walked closer and began to pet one when a man came up and asked if I wanted to rent the gray for an hour to ride.  I was very very tempted, but decided against it.  I will go back with a friend next Sunday to ride.

I do not know what this says about me but I feel much more comfortable here than Cusco already.  The tall buildings, more human diversity, museums, shopping malls, and Kentucky Fried Chickens make me feel at ease.  Not really the KFCs, but I did recognize that smiling face.

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