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Published: June 28th 2008
I made it all the way to Guayaquil without getting lost in an airport!! My flight was pretty simple- I had a 16 year old boy next to me and he kept me entertained drawing pictures of Spongebob and telling me I look more Ecuadorian than Italian. In Costa Rica I bought an iced tea that drained me of $5. Either I got ripped off for being American or the dollar really is that weak there.
My homestay mom, Jazmina, picked me up from the airport at 3:30 and we made our way to Urdesa. The ride there was a sensory overload as there was sooo much to look at. Also, the driving here is completely different than the US. Think we have bad drivers? There are no enforced rules such as red lights mean stop or lanes. You drive how you want to drive and there is a minimum speed limit. Surprisingly, I have yet to see an accident ot dented car. Also, everyone has manual cars, probably for the gas and hills. Urdesa is an upscale neighborhood in Guayaquil, but that is by Ecuadorian standards. This would look like a ghetto in the US. The houses are all gated in and packed together. Still, they are VERY cute: flowers and plants on all the balconies, knick-knacks galore inside. The Loaiza family has a cookcleaning lady who comes every morning until about 3 to clean and prepare almuerzo. The house is impecably clean, with the exception of the termites, but they don´t bother me. Jazmina has 2 kids, but 2 are married and out so I have Anita Lucia, who is 19 and studying nutrition at the University. Her brother is her teacher. There is also a girl named Kelly (25) staying here. Her and her friends are from the US and volunteering at a hospital. They are medical students.
My classes start Monday. As far as I know I am in a Spanish course with one other student because nobody else knows any Spanish and they are in a beginner´s class. There are 10 students total. We are taking a trip to Cuenca on July 11-13 as far as I know. That´s where Kelly, Sara, and Allison went this weekend.
Now, WHAT I HAVE DONE: The first day I came to the house and set up my room and then passed out for a few hours. Around 9:30 I went to Malecon with Kelly, Sara, and their friends from the hospital Daniel and Eric (they have been here for a year). Malecon is a boardwalk along the Guayas River that was built among a mass effort to clean up the city and make it safer. However, we only went to the far end of it and walked up Las Peñas. Las Peñas are a bunch of colorful houses on a mountain that are the first of Guayaquil. At the top of the 466 steps in a lighthouse (un farro) and a magnificent view of the entire city. Unfortunately by the time we got to the top (we stopped at 3 barrestuarants on the way up) the lighthouse was closed. Just means I will have to go back with my camera!!
Yesterday I slept in, had desayuno (toast with jam and cheese, coffee in milk, and juice) then took a walk around the neighborhood to find a market. All the stores are super tiny. I got Ricos (Ritz) and Powerade for a total of $0.80. Wowzaass! Almuerzo was delicious: chicken, spaghetti and green sauce with juice. Since it´s the big meal of the day I get dessert too so I had strawberry icecream and cookies!!! Around 5 I went to La Bocca ( a shopping center) with Anita and her friend Gabriella, Chiki, where we got yogur, which is basically a smoothie. I also tried pan de yuca, rolls with cheese fried. I met her friend who is an English teacher at the University and we talked about the language differences. He asked me some things about English like pronunciations and if it´s better to say chubby or fat. Ha. I learned chevre means cool, and I think vaca does too, but that also means cow. The girls are going to end up teaching me bad words, but I can´t pick them out when they are saying them anyway. Apparently, my Spanish is very good. I blend in like one of the upper class Guayaquileños.
My culture shock so far: the poverty. There are children walking around the street all night trying to sell roses to cars that fly by them. Last night I saw a little boy, probably 7, carrying his brother, an infant in the median of the highway. Also, the difference between those in a higher socioeconomic status and the rest is unbelievable. It´s like the wealthy people don´t know anything about the poverty, other than they aren´t part of it. If I come back I want to go to Duran on something like that and see the other side of the spectrum.
There is sooo much more to say but I can´t type a novel. I´ve been typing forever so I am going to e-mail Mommy. She learned to e-mail like a big girl!!! Let me know how everything is at home. Adios!
- La Gringa Nueva
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