Friday, August 14, 2009

Living Well

I saw a very different side of Quito today. I met with a real estate agent referred to me by Guillermo from Sacha Lodge. I did not set any limits to cost or what I was looking for, except that I wanted to be safe. Paquita told me that she was not sure what she wanted to show me until she spent some time with me, and knowing me would guide her. She proceeded to show me embarrassingly large and luxurious apartments in Gonzales Suarez and Bellavista. I was almost uncomfortable, but at the same time, I wanted desperately to live in these big beautiful open places, so different from what I had seen thus far. The prices were ridiculously high. I wonder if just being a foreigner motivated her to direct me to this sort of existence, or the fact that Guillermo introduced us.

We started big, and wound down to a more affordable and suitable place in Bellavista, still more than I wanted to spend. Later in the day, I went with Erika and another real estate agent, and saw perfectly suitable places for more reasonable rents, but I had been spoiled for the day. I am reminded of the far more modest life that I lead, and part of me wants to live above and beyond, and an equally strident part feels uneasy with such wealth and luxury, especially when there is so much poverty all around.

The views were stunning, I am starting to be accustomed to the beauty of my surroundings when I look up and above. The sights at street level are variable, and walking the streets is rough because of the cars and the exhaust. I have walked through the neighbourhood around Erika's house. Rio Coca and Diez de Agosto and Seis di Diciembre and Avenue di Shyris are becoming more familiar to me. I find the street names interesting and informative. The 10th of August is the day of Independence, the Shyris are a preColumbian tribe from the Quito area, the 6th of December was the day in 1534 when Quito was 'refounded' by the Spaniards after Ruminahui razed to the ground rather than surrendering to the conquerers.

I am still uncertain about walking the streets alone. I wanted to walk in the areas I had visited today but was discouraged by Paquita--I had been walking around JipiJapa daily and she felt that was unwise too; I am starting to think that the place I want to live is the area where I can safely walk every day.

People are friendly on the street, always greeting me with 'Buenas Dias' or 'Buenas Tardes'. When I am introduced to someone, stranger or friend, man or woman, right hands shake and right cheek touches right cheek. I wonder if my simple handshake offends; I am okay with the cheek thing when I know someone, but am slow to kiss with strangers. It is interesting to watch Erika and how friendly she is with people she does not know, telling them more than I would expect from a stranger!

Maya was disappointed to have her last day of summer camp today; I thought it went for another two weeks. She has been communicating well with the children but I am not sure she has been speaking Spanish. She is enjoying her ballet class more and more. Her teacher has asked her to move to pointe shoes, which suggests that she is doing well. She is the youngest in the class by several years, most of the students are young adults, so she is feeling more and more accomplished.

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