I wish I had known this when I had my camera taken; I am still waiting for a replacement. Eric bought a small point and shoot which is not working for me, and since Amex refunded me the cost of the camera, I am very eager to buy the same Nikon again. It is unlikely that I could find the camera after so many weeks. But it is certainly possible that Eric will find something that was taken from him (computer, four cellphones including iphone!) and retrieve it. I am so much more excited than Eric is about this!
Each morning, Eric and I go for coffee next door at 'Boncaffe' (not particularly good coffee but pleasant and affordable), and I read 'El Comercio', one of the local newspapers. It is a business paper and more to the right politically and therefore scathing in its criticism of Correa. Today there was an article about a 27 year old French woman who was shot and killed on the weekend in Guapalo, a area which is particularly lovely but was not a serious consideration for us because of its distance from Maya's school. Many gringos live there, and the homes have gorgeous views of the Tumbaco valley beyond. Amparo was talking about the murder, which is very shocking to Quitenos because murder is comparatively rare here. Later, Eric forwarded an email from his graduate student Sarah, who sent him a Baltimore Sun article about a series of burglaries that have been occurring near Johns Hopkins this year. The article did not reveal the interesting detail that the student burglary victim had killed the intruder with a Samurai sword. The point of all this is that robberies occur everywhere, and big cities like Baltimore and Quito are potentially dangerous.
I have discovered that am lazy when it comes to learning languages, which explains why I feel so stuck. I can talk and talk and talk and express myself and understand others well. However, when it comes to grammar, such as conjugating verbs and figuring out whether to say 'ser' or 'estar', both of which mean 'to be' but have special uses for different situations, I want to remain a beginner forever and not bother getting over this obstacle. But I am determined not to stay stuck. I am enjoying my mornings with Amparo, and somehow we manage to exchange all sorts of information from 8:30 AM until 12:30. The bonus today was a salsa lesson, which I absolutely loved. We also learned the merengue and another local dance which involved alot of hip thrusting. Thankfully, by the time we tried the last dance, I was no longer in front of the mirror and did not have to watch myself! I am trying to find a way to convince Eric to join me regularly at dance lessons. He has learned the salsa and enjoys it, but we both need further instruction. There are several dance studios particularly for gringos (who simply do not move the same way that the locals do) in the Mariscal, which is close to Catolica University. It is good exercise too, and at the end of the hour all the students and the teacher were perspiring profusely.
Things are progressing at our apartment. We had the showers fixed and the dryer now works. We are still waiting for the cable company to install our internet service. So far we have been 'borrowing' wireless internet whenever possible, but it is sketchy and not consistent, and using videoskype feels excessive, so I am missing my family and friends and contacts back home. I am assured that this is the way it is here. Things happen when they happen, and there is little I can do to make anything happen on my timetable. It took two weeks to get our cell phones (which were stolen a few minutes after they were placed in Eric's hands), but only a few days to replace them. Generally the apartment management has responded to all our requests and concerns. I have been encouraged to approach them about the missing oven, that they may be helpful in some way (Isabel suggested that perhaps they have an obligation to provide us with all necessary kitchen appliances -- I am less than sure they will respond to such a request but it is worth asking).
Some sort of creature bit me all over my lower legs and upper arms. It could be mosquitoes -- perhaps at the Peguche waterfalls on the weekend. I am wondering about bedbugs, because they do not look like mosquito bites and are intolerably itchy, but Eric has no bites and Maya only a few ( usually mosquitoes like Maya best). Maya suggested a spider or spiders; I cannot imagine any worse scenarios. I scratched all night and slept very little, and today have all sorts of unsightly wounds to avoid looking at, and worries that I will contract some unmentionable parasite or worse. So far I have no symptoms other than the constant scratching. The government here is very concerned about swineflu. The university canceled all large conferences and lectures, so that Eric's talk, which was to be today, has been postponed for a later date. People on the street are wearing masks, we were asked to use disinfectant on our hands at Maya's ballet studio and at the dance studio I visited today, there are articles in the newspaper about H1N1 daily. I believe the numbers of those who have contracted the disease are few, but the head of the president's security detail died of the disease, so there is concern. The Ministry of Public Health is right next door to our building; I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing.