Monday, November 9, 2009


Another Gorgeous Quito Morning

I am back at Spanish class after taking a week off. Eric has been pointing out that I spoke Spanish far better when I knew nothing and was totally unselfconscious and spoke only in the present tense. Now that I have learned the future and the past and the imperfect and the conditional and the subjunctive, I have become paralyzed and hesitant to speak. I am so aware of my errors and the many choices I have to make, I freeze and say nothing. I understand more and feel more comfortable in the language, so I know I am learning a little more each day, and I am trying to be hopeful. My father tells me am too ambitious and am trying to do too much too fast.

However, I wonder if I have to revise my plan to learn the language before I do anything else. I may simply have to DO something else while learning Spanish. I spoke to Maria's husband and asked about getting a license to practice medicine. I had been told by a lawyer in January that it would take so much time and effort to get a license and that it may come through in eight to ten months. Hernan told me that to be able to practice one must first work in a rural environment or in a public hospital for a year before applying for a license (with every possible document detailing every course I have taken through my academic career.) He suggested that I teach at one of the medical schools. I have already been invited to meet with the medical school at Catolica University, but I was hesitant because of my inadequate Spanish; the reality is that most of the students speak English, but the patients of course are Spanish speaking.

I was so determined to learn the language well before all else, but I did not realize how challenging the language is, at least to learn well. I can certainly get by with what I have, but that is truly not much different from where I was when I started, but at least now I use more than one verb tense.

I am sad about losing my wonderful Spanish English dictionary. The grammar section was excellent, and I had just begun to read and understand it. I had plans to review it carefully before I started back at Spanish school, which is why I had it in the car on the way to Latacunga. I now remember more of the items which were stolen from the car Saturday. Nothing was worth much, but coincidentally, I had just received a replacement for the camera that was stolen during the first week I was here, and had brought the instructions with me (the camera went with me in my purse) and left them in the bag that was stolen. I believe I must still have the original booklet somewhere in my papers, so in truth I have not really lost anything. The dictionary was a gift from Kate, a delightful young British girl who left it to me when she traveled south to Peru.

The main 'Budget' office was a few blocks from Spanish school, so I dragged myself there unenthusiastically. I wanted to argue and insist that my insurance would pay for the damage and the loss, and I did try to explain how things were done in the United States, but I was politely informed that in Ecuador I was required to pay for the damage upfront. Today was simply not a day I had energy to fight, so I paid for the damage and hopefully my insurance will reimburse me. I documented the claims already online. To get a police report, the damage must be over $650, so when Eric and the lawyer from Latacunga went to document the 'denuncia', they padded the loss to qualify for the denuncia. That is how things are done in Ecuador.

I am almost embarrassed to tell anyone of our series of losses. We truly have had the most incredibly bad luck since we have been in Ecuador. Or perhaps we are in fact very lucky and our experiences could have been far worse.

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