Monday, August 24, 2009

Home Again?

It is strange to be back with Isabel and Erika after a weekend of being around gringos. It took a while to get back to speaking Spanish again. Everyone at Yanayacu was English speaking and either American or European. I realize how lucky we have been to have had a very genuine and authentic Ecuadorian experience since we arrived in Quito. We have been immersed in a Spanish speaking environment, we have eaten almost exclusively Ecuadorian food, Maya's camp and swimming and ballet lessons have all been full of local people. It certainly feels like we have returned home to Isabel and Erika, who have welcomed us, fed us, opened their home and their lives to us.

While at Yanayacu, everyone had a story about robberies, pickpockets, murders, assaults. Everyone in the group had had either a personal encounter with crime during their time in Ecuador, or knew someone who had. It was sobering and shocking and set off all sorts of fears for me. I am not sure I have ever felt so worried about my personal safety or that of Maya's. I have to remind myself that Baltimore has one of the highest murder rates in the country and probably in the Western world, and that Quito's numbers are nowhere near those of most American cities of the same size. That said, I worry more and am not sure what will reassure me. Isabel and Erika are warning me regularly, and limit their movements because of their own concerns. The Ecuadorians too have their own stories to add.

We fell back into our usual regime. Eric's alarm woke us up far too early, but he was out of the house and at Catolica working by 8. Maya listened to Taylor Swift songs on Youtube. I remember getting interested in songs on the radio at about the same age, but there were no computers or Youtube at the time. She listened over and over until she knew the words and could sing the songs to me throughout the day. After swimming class, we took the Ecovia to meet Eric at the apartment across from the Hospital Baca Ortiz, which is the children's hospital. I am feeling more and more comfortable taking the bus, and Maya watches my bag carefully. When we get off the bus, we have to walk past the front of the hospital. There are many families milling about and an ambulance unloading its passengers. We walk up the hill to revisit the apartment, and I try to figure out if I can imagine myself living in the space. I decide that I like the fireplace best.

But then I look out at the incredible view, which is truly the best part of the apartment, except that this time I notice that there is construction going up down the street. How is it that I did not see it before? Or did it just come up, which is possible here in Quito where they are building like crazy. Eric points out that if I don't look down, I will not see the construction site.

We then take a walk around the area. We are two blocks from the Swisshotel and the Radisson, and the 'Supermaxi' is close by, along with many restaurants. Eric likes that he can walk to Catolica and the Mariscal and that my favourite cinema (Ochoymedia) is also in walking distance. He points out spas along the way (there is no bathtub in the apartment so I will have to find a way to have a bath occasionally). We eat at Pim's, where the food takes so long to arrive, we gobble it up and Maya and I race to ballet class in a taxi.

I get back on the Ecovia to check out the Megamaxi, a huge warehouse like store with all sorts of goods, much like Target in the US, but focussed on food. Maya and I meet Eric at the 'Supercines' after ballet, and walk to 'Quicentro', a mall near the Carolina Park. We look for books in English (Maya has had three books to read these three weeks, and has read the same ones over and over), and the only appropriate one for Maya is about Ecuadorian ghost stories, which are fine to read in the daytime, but not quite appropriate for nighttime reading, but she devours the book anyway.

Without realizing it, I am adjusting to our lives here, engaging in ordinary daily activities and pursuits and taking the local transportation, eating the native cuisine, interacting with my neighbours and being just fine with everything. This life is so different than how I usually live, yet it suits me, and does not feel too awkward, I just have to tamp down my fears, be braver, bolder, stronger.

1 comment:

  1. I know what you mean about being "home".
    Your photographs of Quito and Ecuador make me very homesick!
    Can't wait to be there, only 3 1/2 more weeks!