Feels Like Home

I have been in Quito for about a month and a half now, and it feels like I left Atlanta months ago.  So much has happened in this short amount of time, and I feel so blessed to be living this life!  Already, I feel that I have pushed myself physically, mentally, and emotionally much more than I ever have before.  Part of that has been from meeting people from different cultures and starting a completely new job.

This past week, I finally started teaching for the school and had one class that met for 2 hours in the morning, 4 days a week.  The great thing about my job, is that we do business English, so we go to the companies.  This particular company just happens to be located on a corner right next to Parque Carolina.  As soon as my class is over, I walk out of the building to this amazing view.

I spend about an hour either sitting in the park studying my Spanish, or walking around.  The weather has been great so far and it is usually 70 degrees by 9:30am.  I’m hoping to have a great tan by the time I come back to Atlanta.  After tanning, and looking like the biggest gringo there ever was, I walk to the nearby Juan Valdez for an hour long private English lesson.  It really doesn’t feel like work, when you get to have class in a coffee shop!  Next, it’s off to more Spanish class.  I’m starting to be able to communicate more with the locals.  I can surprising understand a decent amount of what people say.  However, it is much more difficult to produce the language and respond, so I say a lot of “si” and head nod.

At nights, we have a combination of salsa class, soccer games, and just getting a drink and relaxing in Plaza Foch (Gringolandia).  Everyone in the school is incredibly friendly, so there is always something going on.  Friday night, there wasn’t an activity planned, so we “convinced” the teachers to organize a soccer game in the park.  Since Parque Carolina is right in the middle of the city, 3 girls and I went to dinner after the game.  We went to get sushi, which was pretty good.  After eating, we weren’t quite ready to go home yet, so we went a few doors down to a cafe to get a drink.  Once we walked inside, we immediately so the desserts and couldn’t resist.  This cafe quickly became one of my favorite places in Quito.

I’m sure you are drooling already, and yes the drinks and food tasted even better than they look! We needed to load up on sugar for our hike that we were doing on Saturday-as if we needed an excuse.

No one wanted to do much over the weekend, so about 7 of us decided to go up the Teleferiqo and hike some.  In Quito, the weather was sunny, but as soon as we got up to the top of the Teleferiqo, we were surrounded by clouds.  Even though the view, wasn’t as good as last time I went up, it was a very unique feeling to be hiking in the clouds.

It is becoming a tradition that whenever we see an animal, we MUST take a picture with it.  So here are a few of us with our new llama friends.

Once we were done hiking, we went back to our favorite place, Gringolandia, for lunch and had some great burgers- so American.  Then, it was time to rest before going out.  I was invited for a typical Ecuadorean dinner at my friend Maria’s host family.  In case you are wondering, a typical Ecuadorean meal consists of about 2 pounds of rice, multiple potatoes, and a small piece of meat… and then more rice and potatoes.  After being absolutely stuffed, we went out to practice our salsa dancing skills.  Unfortunately, Ecuadoreans prefer to listen to what I consider “American” music instead, so we weren’t able to practice salsa dancing much, but I still had a great time and even had some Cubans buy us a rose.

Every Sunday, Amazonas, a main road in Quito, is closed for riding bikes and walking.  Of course we wanted to take advantage of this, so we walked from Parque Carolina to Plaza Foch.  If you can’t already tell, those are our 2 favorite places in the city.  We ate lunch at one of the restaurant patios in the Plaza and enjoyed the sun and each other’s company for about 3 hours.  Then, I went with Maria to her host family’s house because she was cooking a traditional Norwegian dinner for them and invited me to join.  Maria cooked what she calls pancakes, but to me it was more of a crepe with chopped up bacon in it along with some chorizo.  It was very good, and now I am trying to figure out how and when I can get to Norway since I have heard such amazing things about it.

Every week has been a learning process, but I feel so grateful that I am allowed to have this experience.  Thank you for all of the prayers and well wishes- it truly means the world to me to have everyone’s support.

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