Monday, 30 September 2013

Altitude training of sorts in Quito, Ecuador

COUNTRY: Ecuador
PROJECT: Teaching & Care Work
WRITTEN BY: Roxanne Vuurman

Hola amigos y familia!

It has been 8 days since we landed in the extraordinary city of Quito, Ecuador’s capital. After 20-30 hours of intense air travel and for some of us up to 6 flights, we arrived dreary eyed into the hands of our welcoming host families. For all of us the first days were spent recovering from jet lag and attempting to acclimatise (some of us struggling with the altitude more than others). It was on our second day in Quito that we began our Spanish studies at the stunning Academia Latinoamericana de Espanol. After taking a preliminary exam we were told what we already knew, that Emma and Tom would be put in a more advanced class, whilst Katharine, Duncan and I were taught the Spanish alphabet in our first lesson. Although, as previously mentioned, this disparity had been made quite clear to us at the very beginning and we have become experts at pushing Emma and Tom to the front of every social situation.

For some, our first week in Ecuador was spent familiarising ourselves with the busy streets and local shopping centres of Quito, and for others familiarising themselves with the impressive skate park within el parque Carolina and connecting with both locals and fellow travellers.

The weekend came as a welcome break from our morning Spanish classes and gave us all the opportunity to further explore this incredible city. On Saturday the boys enjoyed the Museo Guayasamin, an art museum existing in the home of Oswaldo Guayasamin, the late painter who was both an extraordinary artist and passionate collector of art.

The same day allowed Emma, Katharine and I to take a tour bus through the city, taking in many of the sites Quito has to offer. Notably, we were able to stop at El Panecillo, an enormous aluminium statue of the Virgin Mary that overlooks the city. Nothing could quite prepare us for the profound view seen from the statue, as we were able to ascend its’ enormity.

That night the group decided to explore the nightlife of la Mariscal, a bustling tourist area with much to offer. The night was largely spent attempting (very poorly attempting) to salsa dance with the locals, however we did have an incredible night despite our distinct lack of dance skills.

Monday we returned to our Spanish classes for the last time, 3 of us leaving the academy with substantially more Spanish speaking skills than before we commenced lessons (a little more than the alphabet you’ll be glad to know).

It was today that we experienced what we ultimately came here to do. We were shown our possible placements in the poorer communities of Quito, walking into rooms of smiling faces chiming “Good morning teacher”. We are now burdened with the task of deciding which placement we are going to spend the remaining 3 months at. Certainly not a decision any of us is going to take lightly. When so much help is needed in so many places it becomes a little daunting to the single volunteer who wants to help all.

Well, the bell is ringing in our host family home to signal that lunch is ready, so I will be off. The 5 of us cannot wait to see what the next 2 weeks will bring, and we cannot wait to share it with all of you.


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