OtavalenoI am adjusting to Ecuador. Learning the language has made a huge difference. I realized thattoday when I was babbling with the taxi driver nonstop from my home to Maya's school in Carcelen, which is far to the north and takes a good half hour to get to. I understood him, he appeared to understand me, and there did not seem to be a barrier to the conversation. He was not sure where I was from, which I perceived as a positive. Although I will always be a gringo, I am less of an 'extranjero'. The city is more familiar, and now I am very precise with directions for the taxiste. I tell him what streets to take and where to turn left and right. I know when I am being taken for a ride (literally, figuratively) although I am not too eager to confront anyone, which is what I am advised to do. I can negotiate the fare when there is no taximetro or in the evening when the taximetro is turned off, and I know what to bargain for because I know where I am going and how much to expect to pay.
I know where I can walk safely and when and where I cannot. I am careful, and have altered my behaviour after the robbery and the pickpocketing, and although there are no guarantees that I will not be a victim again, I believe that I am better prepared and hopefully better able to avoid another incident.Being careful and aware does not prevent me from being out and about day and night, so I feel freer and more confident.
I have been going out in the evening, which is a significant improvement from my initial few weeks, when I was so fearful of being out after dark. I am not unaware of the dangers, but with care and attention, the risks can be minimized. There is so much going on in the evening; Quitenos like music and theatre and dance and spectacle. My preference would be to see everything, but both Maya and Eric are homebodies, so I have to limit myself somewhat.
I was unsure how I would manage without working. Perhaps because my life here has been so full of activity and new challenges, I have yet to feel worth less or bored or lost. My work has always been such a central part of my sense of self and my self worth, so I expected to feel untethered or aimless and without purpose, but instead, every day is an adventure and I like that every day starts with all sorts of possibilities. I have no idea what direction my life will take next, not tomorrow or next week or next month, and that feels entirely comfortable.
It is neither uncomfortable nor comfortable to be living with significantly greater financial constraints than I am accustomed to, we are simply limited and that is what it is and our lives move forward and we live within our means.
I believe that Maya is somewhat happier, that she is adjusting, albeit not as quickly as I had expected. She is understanding more Spanish, is playing with more children at school, she was invited to a birthday party this Friday night, so I am hopeful.
Our lives in Quito are certainly coming together for us.
Quito is where I live, it is my home.