Week one is almost over, and what an interesting week it’s been! The fun has been cut a bit short by me getting sick, though. So, instead of exploring the city more and starting my internship and Spanish classes, I’m lying in bed in my host family’s apartment with the flu or something of the sort 🙁 Hopefully, I’ll be better by tomorrow? Well, at least I’m well tended to here. My host mom is the sweetest person in the world. The saying “mi casa es su casa” has never been and will never be as appropriate as it is at the moment. She’s brought me breakfast in bed for the past two days and whatever else I need. She says love and rest are the cure. My host father insists I should just take to shots of tequila, and I’ll be all better. For now, I think I’ll stick with mamá’s advice. Charlie, the other intern, has also been very sweet, keeping me company and doing me favors. I’m very, very lucky to have been placed with this family and Charlie!
I did accomplish quite a bit before getting sick, though. I arrived late on Tuesday night and went straight to bed once I arrived at the hostel. Everyone else was already asleep anyways. On Wednesday, we had a bit of an introduction and orientation, then lunch, and after, a lengthy walking tour of the Old Town. My calves are still sore from all the uphill walking and stair climbing! We all got to know each other quite well throughout the day. Oh, and everyone has decided I’m very, very “American”. I’m not really sure what that means though, and quite honestly, I’m not sure they even know what they mean by it. Hopefully it’s a good thing?
Thursday morning, Group A and Group B left Quito to venture to their respective projects, while Charlie and I slept in a bit, packed up our bags too, and left the hostel to go meet our host family. As soon as introductions were over (and it’s quite the full house! There’s the mom, the dad, their son and his granddaughter, and another student, in addition to Charlie and me. I’m really not sure how we all fit in the apartment, but I’m too scared to ask) I passed out. They don’t really do “siesta” here, but I’ve decided that for now, I will be taking one daily. While I slept, Cristina, the project coordinator, showed Charlie where he was going to be interning and introduced him to the people he’d be working with. Shortly after I woke up and he returned, it was time for food. Our first dinner with the family was pretty rough. Conversation was quite difficult as we tried to acclimate ourselves to an environment where no English is spoken. But each meal since then has become progressively less awkward and quiet and much more enjoyable and amusing, especially when there is a soccer game going on. Hopefully, Charlie and I will be quite fluent and competent in Spanish real soon.
Friday, Cristina took Charlie and me to the school I will be interning at and introduced me to all the people I’d be working with. It is quite a walk and then a long bus ride to get there, though, probably an hour commute in total. Oh, and I’m supposed to be there by 8:30 AM. Yikes. I’ll have to learn to be a morning person I guess. I’m sure it’ll all be worth it, though. I’m still not exactly sure what I’ll be doing there yet, but it’s a really cool and unique school, and I really just feel so privileged to be a part of it and interact with the kids and staff. I’m really, really excited to get started when I get better.
Saturday, Charlie and I explored the city on our own. We took a taxi to the TerefériQo, which is essentially an old Gondola that takes you almost to the top of one of the mountains on the outskirts of Quito. The views up there were incredible! But, it was unexpectedly cold up there, and the air was very thin. We didn’t last terribly long, but long enough to see a doggie threesome. When in…Quito, I suppose? It was quite disturbing, really. Charlie being a boy and all thought it was unbelievably funny and snapped a few photos. I won’t post them in this post, but they will be on my twitter feed and instargram (feel free to follow me on both! I post things to them pretty much daily, if not more. My name on both is zoemongan96). That’s one thing I’ve really struggled getting used to though, all the stray dogs. There is hardly a time when I’m out that I don’t see at least one at all times. I’ve never been exposed to that before. It’s really sad, and I feel really awful about it. I just want to go up to all of them and love on them and take them home with me. It’s taken a lot for me to resist those urges. They are strays after all, and it’s hard to know which ones might be dangerous or has fleas or something. I’ve also run into quite a few puppies (they have all had owners), but they were clearly taken away from their moms far too early. One of them was only one month old! I also saw a lady hit her dog for seemingly no reason. That was probably the most disturbing and heartbreaking for me. I suppose when most of the population isn’t being properly cared for yet, dogs aren’t a priority. I understand that, but it’s still been something I’ve had to get used to.
Anyways, after the Tereférico, Charlie and I stopped by the Presidential Palace. Unfortunately, all the tours were full, so we will have to try again some other time. We did run into two nice people who were taking English classes and needed to talk to an American for five minutes and record it. That meant Charlie was out of the game (I believe the score is now: Americans 1, British 0). It was quite fun talking to them, and I learned a lot about Ecuador and the city from them. After that, we stopped at a Café for a drink and a bit of food. Both Charlie and I were expected the bill to be at least $15-20. It was $4. That’s another thing that’s been tough getting used to. Everything is sooooo cheap here! Even when I’m getting ripped off (because I’m a tourist and don’t know better), I still feel like I’m ripping them off. When we went out for dinner one night, we had $14 each to spend, and we were all in a tizzy trying to figure out how to make a meal out of that. We all ended up getting a drink, an entrée, and a dessert with a bit to spare. It was shocking. After our snack, we headed home so I could have a siesta. When I woke up, I was terribly ill. My throat ached, it was horribly painful to swallow anything (which made staying hydrated an awful chore), my head hurt, and my entire body was weak and pained.
I spent all of yesterday in bed, switching off between sleeping and being bored and sweating and shivering. I’ve got a whole pharmacy in my drawer, so that’s made everything a bit more bearable, but only slightly. Hopefully it’ll pass quickly. My condition hasn’t improved much though in the 48 hours since it began, so by the advice of my doctor parents, I stumbled to the pharmacy to buy some antibiotics. No prescription needed or questions asked. Incredibly convenient, but slightly concerning that it’s so easy to get your hands on normally prescription medication. Anyways, I’ve started that; so no matter what it is, I should be better soon…knock on wood. Do you guys do that in the UK?
Well, Charlie should be getting back soon and dinner is probably almost ready, and I haven’t had anything to eat today really, so I need to get going. This post is far too lengthy anyways. I like to talk a lot, if you couldn’t tell 🙂 Very American of me I suppose! I’ll update y’all again soon.
Love from Zoe…and Charlie