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Published: February 6th 2009
Starting around 7am on Sunday morning I heard the family and the other student moving around. I had already been up for a little while, not even needing my alarm, due to the fact that the temperature in my room kept fluctuating throughout the night and waking me up. Also, the lace curtains hanging in my room don't exactly block out a lot of light, so it gets bright pretty early. Once I heard the other student out in the hall, I got up so I could get the 411 on how to live in this house - rules, eating schedules, etc. before I made a mistake. Emily was from Nebraska and was there doing a research project for her undergrad thesis, and at that point had already been living there for a month. She was so nice and helpful, explaining how to work the shower to get hot water (you have to listen for a change in pitch of the water), sat with me while I ate my breakfast, and escorted me to the Y.
Breakfast was made by my host mother, Lorena. It was a cut up apple and banana, with yogurt and granola on
This is where Emily and I ate all our meals at home, most of the time with Lorena joining us.
the top, little bread things and tea. It was pretty good, but I think I was starting to be affected by the altitude and was not that hungry. But I also didn't want to waste any food (which the program warned us about doing) ad offending my mom on the 1st day. After a quick teeth brush it was time to catch the metro bus - the stop was pretty much exactly out in front of the apartment, its only $0.25 per ride and 2 stops later we were at the Y. Several students were waiting outside as well, and we went in together.
There are 11 students total participating in the program in October. Mike, SaVanna, and Emily have already been in Quito for 1 month. The other new people along with me are Lindsey, Caitlin, Nickilou, Julie, Brittany, Monica, and Peter. Mateo was there to give us an introduction to the program, talk about culture shock, what to expect, etc. He is married to Yvonne, or Ivy, who is the daughter of Rosita, the own of the Amazing Andes School. Next, we all got our cell phones, exchanged phones numbers with each other, and took
the written part of the Spanish placement tests. Then we were taken off in pairs for the oral part - reading, listening and answering questions. At this point I can listen and read Spanish fairly well, but I tend to get tongue-tied when I try to speak, or I forget key vocabulary I need to get my point across.
Once we were done registering at the school, it was time for lunch. Man, I got so winded just walking up Avenida America. Originally they were going to take us to eat at a local place, but it was closed, so we ended up eating at a pizza place in a nearby mall. It was good pizza, although not really what I was expecting my first meal in Ecuador to be. When we finished it was time to go back to the school to meet Dra. Alvear, the medical coordinator for the Andean Health Programs of CFHI. She was very nice, and gave us our schedules for the next 4 weeks that included what clinics and doctors we would be working with, although they are subject to change at any time. After her talk, we were free to leave.
Learning the Neighborhood
On the way home, I asked Emily to please show me where she uses the internet - I needed to let dad know I found my family despite the lack of information on my part. The internet cafe is very close to our apartment, is $0.70/hr, and most of the people that worked there were friendly. I emailed long letters to the family and Ben, played a small amount of KOL (which is VERY annoying to do when the connection is slow) and talked on AIM to dad and Meredith while Emily talked to her fiancee on Skyp.
Emily then took me by the DVD store right next door, where you can buy a wide range of DVDs for only $1.50 a disc. I will definitely be going back there. Then I wanted to buy some water and some phone cards, and after that we headed home. The streets were fairly crowded and there were a few soldiers hanging around, probably because it was election time this weekend. It is time for the country to vote on a new constitution for Ecuador, and it is mandatory for every person to vote. Interesting fact
: the sale
Awesome DVD store
Can't beat $1.50 DVDs - they even had the Dark Knight before it was out in the states!
and consumption of all alcoholic beverages have been prohibited for 3 days surrounding the election. Kind of a good idea, don't you think? I would have really liked to have seen a polling place, but sadly did not have the chance.
While waiting to cross the street, we had to let a motorcade of some type go by us - I think it was the President, heading to a polling place to vote. There were several fancy cars flying flags and they had a police escort. Plus, they got to travel down the middle part of the road, where only Metro buses and emergency vehicles are allowed to travel. Too bad I didn't have my camera.
Well, its now late at night, I've finished unpacking and putting everything in its place, I ate my first dinner, and went through all the clinic info I was given. Tomorrow is more orientation/culture stuff, then a city tour of the clinics, then lunch. So I'd better head off to bed.
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