Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hitting a Wall

Plaza de la Independencia

After three weeks of progress in Spanish class (four hours a day, five days a week, with a three day break), I have reached a period of intense frustration and an inability to move forward. After rushing through the basics along with the present tense, I have recently learned four past tenses; the simple past, the continuing past (imperfect), the past that has a relation to the present (preterito perfecto), and the past that happened before another past (pluscuamperfecto). I have hit a brick wall, immoveable and incomprehensible, and I am not making progress. Perhaps it makes no sense to learn a language so intensely, so quickly, but I am eager to learn, and will forge ahead next week.

With my morning devoted to Spanish, and my afternoon to Maya and her activities, I have been unable to explore Quito as much as I had hoped. Yesterday, I wanted to visit a botanical garden in the middle of Carolina Park, which is a street away from our apartment, and which during the day is full of soccer and basketball players, walkers, runners, and local workers eating their lunch. However, when I decided to take my walk, I found myself anxious about the few people on the paths, and no sight of police patrols and wondered if I was safe with my purse and my camera. I wandered around the periphery of the park, but did not get close enough to see the botanical garden, and chose to interpret my unease as a sign that walking alone in the park, even during the day, was unsafe. I am aware that I am a touch paranoid, but it felt better to pay attention to my feelings; better safe than sorry. I have yet to visit the park.

Iglesia de la Catedral

I pushed myself past my discomfort about safety today, when I visited the Centro Historico again; initially I dawdled too long in the Mariscal, trying a smoothie at a nearby fruit stand, a coffee at El Espanol, and popped into Libri Mundi for a peek at the new books; finally I knew that if I did not leave as soon as possible, I would not get anywhere today. When I entered the taxi, the taxiste turned on the taximetro, but when I told him that I was going to the 'centro historico', and the 'Teatro Sucre', he claimed that he did not know where that was. He asked me to leave the cab, clearly unwilling to drive where I had asked him to. So I took the Ecovia instead to La Marin station and walked up the hill to the Plaza Grande. I always enjoy the atmosphere in the old town. There are so many people walking and strolling and shopping and eating and selling their wares. I like that it is a vital and active part of the city, as well as wonderfully preserved, with new streets and corners to explore, an adventure every time.

Iglesia de la Catedral

It was the wrong time to visit the churches, because they are often closed between 12 and 3 PM, but I did walk into the church of 'Carmen Alta' which is being renovated and has not been accessible during former visits. The workers opened the side door for extra air today, so I was able to peek at the beautiful gold covered baroque altars. There is a convent attached, but I have yet to see it open to tourists. I checked on each of my favourite churches; La Compania, San Francisco, La Sagraria, La Merced, San Augustin, Santo Domingo; I am sure there will be more added to my list when I have a chance to see them!

I spent some time in the Casa Museo Maria Augusta Urrutia, which is a well preserved home of a typical upper class Quiteno of the early 1900's. Maria Augusta Urrutia was a philanthropist and devoted her life to caring for needy children in Quito. She liked to collect art and was the muse for one of the favourite artists of the time, Victor Mideros. Apparently he used her as a model for painting several of his subjects, from angels to virgins and madonnas. The best part of the house was the architecture. I have become accustommed to the austere exteriors which give no hint of the treasures behind the walls. One enters through the outer doors to the inner courtyard, which often contains a fountain and plants and flowers. Most roooms face out onto the inner atrium. This house used light very effectively, with sunlights and stained glass windows in most rooms. Many items in the rooms were European, but local artists and items were used as well.

I have been avoiding doing my homework; I cannot bear to think of conjugating verbs. I do not know how to make it easy and simple, and my teacher tells me just to memorize it at this time, and that it will sort itself out with practice. I certainly hope so!

La Compania


  1. Nice blog with a nice title "hitting a wall" Expecting your upcoming blogs in spanish. Your blog is appreciated.

  2. I cannot imagine EVER writing in Spanish!!!!!! I am so overwhelmed. But thanks for your encouragement!