¡Hola chicos!

Following an 11 hour plane journey, bags lost in transit, sunburnt skin and 28 hours of Spanish lessons, I have survived my first week in Ecuador. Success!

I´m having trouble as to where to start this post! I guess from the beginning: descending into Quito was exhilarating to say the least. From above you get a real sense of the geography: mountains surround the city to form a basin – albeit a huge one! Houses look like lego bricks scattered haphazardly into every nook and cranny. The airport is crammed into a tiny space so that when the plane lands, it feels like you can reach out and touch the buildings. Here are a couple of photos to get a vague idea of what it´s like:

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The view from the Basilica cathedral in the old town of Quito

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Quito itself is a strange mix of hurried and relaxed. Walking across the road is terrifying as you get the sense that if you find yourself in the way of a car, it won´t stop. And I swear I´ve inhaled a lifetime of car fumes! However the people themselves are really laid back, always walking at a leisurely pace and arriving 20 minutes late to meetings.

Our first day consisted of a mini tour of the town, safety tips and juice. The safety tips certainly had an impact – I now walk with my bag on my front with no more than $10 in my pocket and I always catch a taxi past 7pm. When I get back home I´ll be even more paranoid than my mum! We also received an itinerary of our week which consisted of various trips throughout Ecuador during the weekends, and 4 hours of Spanish every day for the next 2 weeks. I´ll be leaving to the cloud forest next Monday to begin my ´save the world´project in Yunguilla. I´m really looking forward to going! Quito is wonderful but the pollution and noise is so much that I don´t think I could last a whole month.

I am just over a week into my Spanish lessons, and my brain is numb. I can now understand most of what people say but I find forming a coherent sentence so difficult! I´ve found the most useful phrase to be ¡hola chicos! It´s the best way to start a conversation, followed by lots of nodding, and lots of ´si si si. Si. ¡Si!´

So yeah, it´s been great! I´ve tried traditional food like guinea pig and intestines, and I´m making up for the lack of tea by eating a ton of bread – yesterday I ate 10 slices nom nom. Our weekend trips have been amazing. Last Sunday we went to these natural hot springs in a place called Papallacta, 2 hours away from Quito. Oh, it was so beautiful! Imagine hot baths surrounded by huge towering mountains, hummingbirds chasing butterflies, the faint smell of flowers lingering in the air followed by smoothies at the edge of the steaming baths. It was stunning.

The next weekend was a day trip to Otavalo, an indigenous market. We had to barter which was a strange experience; it was addictive yet the things that were being sold were so beautiful that it felt rude to haggle the already cheap prices! We also visited this historic sight where virgins were sacrificed to the Sun God. Despite that slightly ominous fact the landscape was the most beautiful I have ever set eyes on. Words – and photos – don´t do it justice. Actually words don´t do this whole trip justice, so I´ll leave you all with a selection of photos. I apologise in advance for the bad quality!

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Quito as the sun sets

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The centre of the world
The centre of the world
Standing on the equator line!
Standing on the equator line!

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I´ll try to post another update later this month. We have trips planned to various places like a weekend hiking up Cotopaxi (a huge active volcano), a week in the Amazon rainforest, and probably the most exciting – a week on the Galapagos islands. So hopefully in my next post I´ll have lots to say with nice photos to follow. Chao!

 

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