Eric arrived at about 3 in the morning. It was the same flight I took from Miami, but was only an hour or so late! The airport was busy this time, and only five minutes from the house. Large groups of people came to pick up family members loaded up with too many bags all wrapped up in plastic. It was odd to be there in the dark with the city quiet and empty and suddenly encounter such liveliness and activity.
Our search for an apartment began in earnest today. I felt that I did not have a good sense of the different areas in the city. I have seen apartments here and there, but I wanted to get a better feel of the different areas. We started at University Catolica, where we met Santiago, one of the professors that Eric will be working with. We saw Eric's new office, and drove to a coffee shop under the Swissotel ( I read in a guide book that this is the most expensive hotel in Quito and Eric informed me that the Iranian leader Ahmadinejad stayed there). I have yet to find good coffee in Quito, although I have not tried too hard. I know that it is unlikely that the style of coffee I drink even exists here, so I have made an effort to be content with the coffee I am offered. So far, the espresso coffee machine at the Sacha/Casa de Suizo office, which Andres proudly showed me, has been the best. It happens to be the same make of machine that we have at home in Baltimore.
It was the first cloudy day since we arrived. The sun has been shining consistently until today. I missed the sun and the volcanoes, except that the clouds over the mountains did not obscure the stunning views, which have become a priority in the apartment hunt. Santiago drove us through La Floresta, the Mariscal, Gonzales Suarez (we drove back and forth through Baron von Humboldt street over and over checking out 'arriendo' signs in the windows), Bellavista, La Paz, the area around Carolina Park, Republica del Salvador, and other areas that were possibilities. I love the names of the different neighbourhoods. Mariscal is named after the Marshall Sucre, Gonzales Suarez was the Archbishop of Quito from 1905 to 1917, von Humboldt was a German scientist who spent time exploring South America and has a university named after him in Berlin (where my father went to school!), Bellavista is an area with wonderful views. Santiago made several calls trying to contact the numbers advertised. I wanted to get out of the car and walk everywhere, but walking is discouraged all the time. I want to live where I can leave the door of my house and walk to stores, restaurants, coffee shops, a yoga class, a bookstore. This may be too much to expect, and perhaps I am trying to recreate too much of a foreign experience and ought to accept that Ecuadorians generally do not live that way. Isabel and Erika generally remain in their home and do not like to go out, especially once the sun goes down. Most Ecuadorians like to entertain in their homes.
Eric and I ventured out for the evening, and again, I was drawn to the colonial centre, where we walked about and ate at the 'Teatrum' restaurant, located over the Teatro Sucre. Very very yummy food, much better than I anticipated. The food in Ecuador has been excellent, of course Isabel spoils us with incredible cooking every day. I ought to spend more time in the kitchen learning how to cook!