We experienced a redeeming moment today. After revisiting the apartment Eric most wants to rent because of its incredible view, reasonable price, and Bohemian look, we were rushing back to pick Maya up from her ballet class. It was 5 PM and the traffic was heavy and we were later than I wanted to be. After reconnecting with Maya, Eric had a moment of panic when he discovered he did not have his wallet with him. There he stood outside of the dance school with the 'deer in the headlights' look, patting all his pockets and turning them inside out, asking me if he had opened the wallet in the taxi and when I had last seen it. It was definitely lost, and without a local address and only foreign identification, it was unlikely we would ever find it. Suddenly the taxi driver drove up waving the wallet in the air. He had evidently found the wallet on the seat of the car, and hoped to find us by driving back to where he had dropped up off! We were all so relieved to have had such a positive interaction!
And today I heard from American Express that I would be reimbursed the cost of the stolen camera directly into my account. I have a 'Purchase Protection Plan' that I was unaware of! I am now ready to make a commercial about the advantages of having Amex! We will try to buy the camera and have someone bring it down when next they return to Quito!
I am feeling more hopeful about our year in Ecuador. Maya is thrilled with her ballet class, and had her first pointe instruction today. She was surprised at how painful and difficult it was to move in those awkward shoes. I truly admire ballerinas, they are not only strong, but are stunningly graceful in such unnatural footwear. Maya is also enjoying her swimming class, and appears to be able to communicate effectively with her classmates and her teachers. I am amazed at how well she has adjusted to our new lives, our new environment.
We saw too many apartments today, so many I cannot remember which was which. Paquita met us at Guillermo's and drove us around between swimming and ballet class. The apartments were all lovely and costly, and Eric continues to insist on the wacky penthouse. We returned there this afternoon to check out the area and visited the apartment again. Eric was more excited about the place and I found myself less enamoured. I am still concerned about the distance from Maya's school, but I believe that she will be in a bus for a long time every day if we live anywhere near Catolica University. The area around the apartment is just a little suspect, and the style of the apartment is entertaining precisely because it is so unattractive. The views remain the best we have seen in any apartment thus far. Decisions, decisions.
Quito is undergoing a building boom. New construction is occurring everywhere. It is a surprise, because I am not sure the economy is that healthy, and I wonder what will happen if there are too many living spaces with not enough inhabitants (boom to bust). The rents are also much higher than I expected, although I suspect the fact that we are 'gringos' directs us to more expensive places.
We visited Winfred, a German professor/researcher who has been working at San Francisco de Quito University and has lost his position after five years. It seems that he never quite fit in here and has not quite figured out the Ecuadorian character, whatever that means. He also does not really speak Spanish, although the university he taught at is English speaking. He is married to Cathy, an Ecuadorian scientist, who has a job at the military university ESPE, and they have three lovely children, 9, 6 and 18 months. He will be going to Germany for six months to do a postdoc, and she will stay here with the children. They live high up on the side of the valley in an area called 'El Inca', with incredible views north, south and west. Their location is closer to Maya's school, but far from the downtown area and Eric's work. Last year they were traumatized by a home invasion, so when they suggested that we look at the vacant house next door, we insisted that we preferred living closer to the centre of the city.
We are off to the jungle tomorrow. We will drive up the Andes and down to the other side to a cloud forest for the weekend. Eric has collaborators there. I am looking forward to the adventure.