Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On Our Own

We moved into our new home late in the evening. Erika and I drove in the SUV with all of our belongings, many of which were stuffed into plastic bags, because I simply could not fit everything into the four duffelbags we brought. Considering that I bought nothing except for a couple of books and a few uniforms, it makes little sense. Either I packed extremely well for the trip from Baltimore or I packed very inefficiently for this transfer. Erika's father, Mario, who has been divorced from Isabel for eight years, but still works daily with her, and is perhaps recently trying to reconcile, drove Eric and Maya. It was past Maya's bedtime, so she immediately went to bed. I started unpacking, and soon realized that we had far too much stuff for the size of the apartment we have rented. It was a challenge to find a place for all of our belongings!

Eric is delighted to live with far less. He was traumatized by the experience of emptying our house, and is determined to live more simply, to have less, to consume less, so our current surroundings appeal to him. I feel constrained and am eager to get out and start exploring further afield. This does not feel like a home; it is more like a place to sleep and shower and then leave.

Maya is very concerned about setting up her space as her own, and has all sorts of plans to decorate and alter her room. She wants order and the first thing we must find are bookshelves and a desk. I did not realize that the apartment had no place for books or papers or a space to do homework.

I was sad to leave Isabel. We have been warmly invited into the lives of her and her family, and the best part of our stay so far have been the interactions at her kitchen table, eating her delicious food, practicing our Spanish with Isabel and Erika and Stephanie and Mario. Maya's bus will drop her off at Isabel's daily, so that Maya can go directly to ballet or music class and then home. I arrived at 3:30 today, but the bus did not get there until 4. The bus schedule remains confused. This morning we were out waiting for the 'Escolar' at 7:10, and at 7:35, while Eric was calling the school to find out what happened, another Einstein bus came by. I waved it down and insisted that Maya board, although the busdriver and his assistant repeatedly told me that Maya was not on their list. I was so relieved that the children wear uniforms, and once I was assured that it was in fact an Einstein bus, I did not care that it was #17 and not #10. They did take Maya, and she arrived at school on time, and took another bus this afternoon to get to Isla Seymour. She had a good day, and had only positive reports about her experiences and interactions.

The sun is up early and Pichincha was still burning this morning, but the fire fizzled as the day progressed. I miss my view of Cotopaxi and the Panecillo, but am glad to have the view I have. I found myself trying to create some order out of the chaos of our little living space, and took longer than planned. I was slow moving all morning, so by the time I went down to look at he gym in my building, it was closed. I checked the one down the street, but it was surprisingly expensive. I had more luck with language schools. They all seem fine to me, with varying prices, from $100 to $200 a week. It is just a matter of deciding which one seems most appealing. I would like to enroll in a Catolica course in October, and hope that four hours a day of one to one Spanish for four weeks will make a huge difference in my abilities. I expect to start school on Monday.

Maya had another audition with a music teacher, who urged us to audition for another orchestra, which is associated with 'Sinfonia por la vida' and has an excellent reputation. Maya played well today, but the teacher felt she needed to buy another violin (yikes!), that this one is too small for her. Practicing without a teacher has not been good for Maya, in that she has learned some parts of her piece in very unique ways, which will need correcting. Maya wants to skype regularly with her teacher in New York, but may need a teacher in person as well.

We spent big chunks of our day in taxis, and with taxidrivers who were getting lost. Going to the music teacher was an adventure of driving in circles and asking local people where we were going, and finally the taxi driver called the teacher and got the directions (all this with the taximetro going). Later this evening when driving home from Maya's school after a 'Meet the Teachers' night, the taxi driver again got totally lost. He finally stopped by a man in a white labcoat selling frozen pizza at the side of the road, and asked for directions.

Eric seems to have a great time talking to taxi drivers. We drove long distances across the city today, and each time, Eric engaged in conversations about Ecuador and his experiences here. The taxi driver usually starts with a shy response to Eric's questions, but with Eric's eagerness and gregariousness, the two are soon babbling away. I listen in the back seat, hearing both men reveal more and more about themselves. I wonder what it is about a cab that encourages them to talk. One cab driver told Eric that he is much more fun and I am far too serious. I am in fact more serious than Eric, but far less timid. It may be that Eric is bolder because he is more confident about his Spanish, and he will probably never see the same cab driver again.

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