I learned this morning that Andres, Amparo's (my Spanish teacher) son, was robbed yesterday as well. He was approached by two young men a couple of blocks from his home in Carapungo and threatened with a knife. He lost his treasured cell phone. It is the pictures and the videos that upset him the most and Amparo told me he was in tears and sick to his stomach after it happened. I can certainly relate to that!!! Living in fear is the reality of life in Quito, and it appears that most Quiteños simply accept it and feel helpless about the lack of security. I am told to take care, and I do, but it does not seem to make much of a difference what I actually do. I could stay inside and never venture forth, and that would be safer, but then again there are home invasions too so there is no certainty that home is safe either.
Agora, Casa de la Cultura
Andres had a day off from school and wanted to talk to Eric about buying a computer, so he came to Spanish class today. Eric had appointments to look at venues for a conference he is planning to have in Quito in 2014, so I asked Amparo and Andres to accompany us. Our first stop was the Casa de la Cultura, which has a big theatre (Teatro Nacional) and several smaller venues. The space is great, but the condition of the building and the auditorium is rather horrible. I am not sure that it is quite acceptable for the attendees, who will come from all over the world. The second choice was the old Eugenio Espejo Hospital, which burned a few years ago and was completely renovated in 2008. It is huge, is beautifully done, and has many wonderful spaces. Unfortunately, it does not have a large auditorium that would accommodate the 900 or so participants, but it was suggested that an outdoor tent be erected for the large meetings, which is entirely doable and appropriate for the month of August, when it is usually dry and sunny.
We will visit the Centro Historico next week and look at the combination of the Teatro Sucre or Teatro Bolivar and one of the convents (of which there are many). My favourite part of the city is the centro, so this idea appeals to me, but it may not feel as secure as the other venues. I am told that we can contract with the Metropolitan Police to provide security for the conference, that it is not unusual for them to be involved in such a venture.
Amparo and Eric at the CapillaOur morning vanished, and although we spoke Spanish throughout, I am not sure if I learned anything new. I have no problem conversing in Spanish now, but there is much grammatically that remains a challenge, so I am keen on reviewing everything I have learned and not making the incessant errors (still haven't managed to get ser and estar right).
Eric and I had more success in our salsa class. We have each had about five individual classes so far, but when we try to dance together we are moving to totally different beats. Today for the first time we had the hour together with Jipsum, my usual instructor. It finally felt like I was actually dancing with Eric. Truly, he is required to do all the work, my job is to follow, and to know what he wants from me. Somehow it worked so much better today! I am feeling so enthusiastic, I am looking forward to practicing tonight, and when we are home for Christmas, I plan to subject the whole family to salsa music and dancing lessons. Eric will have to dance with all the women, so he has much practice ahead of him. I am hoping he is suffering a little less with each lesson.