It is colder than I expected, especially in the early and later part of the day. Maya and I cuddle at night under three blankets, and I need a shower in the morning to warm me up. There was no hot water for a couple days, so I braved a cold shower one day and decided I did not need a daily shower after all. It warms up during the day, and the sun is intense, so that I am reapplying sunscreen on Maya all the time and she is still getting sunburned. We are at a high altitude and at the equator, so we closer to the sun.
Maya started her 'vacation camp' today, so we woke up at 7:30 and had an early breakfast before most of the family was up. Erika and Isabel go to bed late and wake up later, so breakfast is always after 9. Breakfast is a big affair, with fruit, yoghurt, fried bananas, eggs, French toast, omelettes, freshly squeezed juice, and more. Isabel drinks Nescafe, which I have yet to develop a taste for. She makes Ecuadorian coffee for me, which is a slow process of pouring a small amount of hot water through a thick and dense inch or two of ground beans. It appears to take a night to produce a spoonful or two of 'extract' of coffee, which is added to hot water or hot milk. It is not particularly strong when diluted, but is drinkable. I wish I could drink more of it, but one cup is all there is enough for, and it works for me in that I do not get a headache or feel the need for more.
Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and happens late. Isabel spends alot of time in the kitchen preparing, but Maya and I are rarely on schedule for lunch, and we find ourselves eating lunch at dinnertime, when the rest of the family hardly eats at all. We will have to adjust to this schedule for now, but with Maya at camp in the morning and at ballet in the afternoon, we may not be able to synch with the Carrera family.
Maya's camp is around the corner, and there are nine children of varying ages, and I am delighted that she enjoys herself and wants to return tomorrow. I hope she will learn Spanish this way!
It appears that I can make a claim with American Express for my stolen camera, so first of all, I must get a police report. Erika and I take almost an hour to fight the traffic to get to the central police station in the Mariscal, the area of Quito that has all the clubs and bars and restaurants and action in town. I like the feeling and the energy and I wish we could live there, but I am told that it is an unsafe part of town and not good for children. It is also much further from her school. We are directed to the 'nonviolent' crimes office and stand in line for forty minutes or so. Erika asks people ahead of us what is required for the line, and we are told to photocopy my identification and buy a couple sheets of paper because the commissioner does not have enough paper. We commiserate with other victims of crime. I am the only foreigner in the line, so it appears that Ecuadorians are equally likely to be robbed. When we get to the end of the line, I tell my story and it is typed up, we get into another line to get the paper stamped and another line to get it signed and we are done in less than an hour. I wish I could stay in the area and wander, now that I have no camera to rob and little money, but it is time to drive back to pick Maya up.
Maya had less than an hour to relax before we headed for her two hour daily ballet class. It is tough and challenging, and Maya is worried that her teacher is not consistent with what she has learned. The ballet instructor is Cuban and huge, but nimble on her feet, and hard on her students. Maya is the youngest and I am not sure this is quite right for her, but she decides to stick with it for the two and a half weeks she has left. Watching her is inspiring and exhausting. I am amazed at what she can do and her perseverance.
We walk home down Rio Coca and up Isla Seymour to Erika's home, stopping for ice cream (we are just as passionate as the Ecuadorians for our ice cream--Eric introduced me to these Magnum bars. which are yummy!). I am getting to know the neighbourhood, which is too quiet and peaceful for me. After enjoying my time at the police station downtown, I think I want to live in a more active part of town.
The wind is howling while Maya practices her violin this evening. She has auditions with two orchestras in September and is preparing her repertoire. I imagine the mountains funnel the wind through the narrow valley, creating an ominous concert with the dogs of the neighbourhood barking and the sirens wailing. It is cold and dark again and it feels as if we are barricaded safely against the world outside.