Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I found a way to avoid acknowledging that I had not done last night's Spanish homework; I just talked non-stop for four hours. I did not give Amparo a chance to ask me to produce my composition or show my conjugation of irregular verbs. I am almost feeling guilty, because I delivered a litany of complaints about the difficult encounters I have had since here in Quito. The pickpocketing and robbery are obvious. Paying the cable guy in cash because of course nothing else will do and then having him disappear for ten days (we still have no internet); waiting two weeks for phones, then when we do get our phones they do not work and have to be reprogrammed and only one person in all Ecuador can take care of our particular plan; buying a legitimate phone and being assured that it will work, and of course it does not; getting a verbal agreement about the apartment and then receiving an email two days later that it had been rented to someone else; giving the taxi driver an address and being dropped off on the wrong side of the street so I have to walk several blocks and climb over obstacles to get to my destination; being charged an extra dollar or more when the taximetro says otherwise; the taxi driver getting 'lost' for several extra dollars: Eric tells me this is simply the way life is here, but I am not comforted. I do not like being this suspicious, anxious, paranoid 'extranjera' expecting to be taken advantage of, but that is exactly what I am feeling now.

In truth, I have had many many more positive than negative encounters. Isabel and her family have been absolutely wonderful, I enjoyed visiting Santiago and his family, I am loving my Spanish lessons and my salsa lesson, it is fun meeting Eric for lunch in the Mariscal, the tiny tiny gym I joined is working for me, I like getting my pedicure/manicure done for ten dollars, the apartment is working out for us, our weekends up north and in the cloud forest were great, I liked meeting the Canadian women, Maya is adapting well to her school and to ballet and to her new orchestra, the mountains around Quito are stunning, the sun shines intensely, the centro historico and the Banco Central museum are amazing, there are encouraging interactions everyday with the people I meet wherever I go. I love that I can go to the end of the street and buy beautiful flowers for a few dollars. I am looking at the pink roses and cala lilies I bought yesterday, which significantly impact the mood of the apartment. The list of positives goes on and on, but i am compelled to focus on the unfortunate experiences instead. I intend to apologize to Amparo tomorrow, I cannot imagine that my four hour rant was fun for her. The good part of it was that I was able to express myself without difficulty, and I did use my 'ser' and 'estar' and conjugated some irregular verbs throughout.

I am convinced that speaking Spanish fluently will boost my confidence and help me understand the culture and the character of the people. Without the language I am limited in all sorts of ways.

It has been a grey and overcast day. It started foggy and oppressive, the sky became dark and ominous several times during the afternoon, and it rained heavily this evening. The rain is a good thing, and hopefully will help manage the forest fires which are destroying hectares and hectares and are overwhelming the 'bombaderos'. We saw dozens of forest fires this past weekend, and the newspaper is reporting that many are deliberately set. The fire departments do not have adequate equipment to overcome the fires, so many are left to burn. A huge swath of Pichincha burned last week, so that much of one face of the mountain is black. With the year-round growing season, I expect it to start recovering soon.

Eric is planning to join Tom tomorrow night in Pappallacta to catch and experiment on the birds. Maya and I will be on our own in the apartment, which feels perfectly comfortable. I am feeling so much safer in our little space. The guards are more familiar, I am accustomed to the street and the neighbouring buildings. Republica del Salvador is full of office buildings, so during the day it is swarming with office workers, The Ministry of Public Health is next door to us, the British and German embassies are down the street next to the Sheraton Hotel, and around the corner is the Mexican embassy and the Guatemala embassy is in the other direction. As everywhere else in Quito, there are buildings being constructed both to our left and to our right, and they are growing at incredible rates, so there are construction workers running about in their hard hats. Traffic is nightmarish from 4-7, so although we take a taxi to go home, I have the taxista stop a few steps away to avoid the crush of cars. It has been drilled into me not to venture outside past dusk, so I stay close to home and find enough to stay busy in the house through the evening. I am however, ready to go out in the evening, so our next challenge is to find someone who is reliable and trustworthy enough to care for Maya.

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