It still hasn’t hit me yet; I’m in Ecuador! After my first flight landed in Houston, I met up with about eight other people in my study abroad program. There’s about thirty of us in total; we all go to UBC, but a lot of us haven’t really met yet, so it was nice to finally talk with some of the people that I’ll be spending the next six weeks with.
I flew Continental both flights, and I was shocked to learn that movies aren’t complementary anymore! It was eight bucks to get movie and TV access! But I wasn’t too bored; I listened to music and zoned out on the first flight, then read through my Ecuador Lonely Planet again on the second flight to familiarize myself with the country that I am now OFFICIALLY in. It was dark when we landed, obviously, but I swear, looking out the airplane window and watching the lights of Quito as we landed was truly remarkable: we landed, and I literally sat there, grinning. All the stress of preparation and saying goodbye was worth it.
The first thing a bunch of us noticed when we got off the ramp was that we were breathing harder. That’s the altitude for ya; Quito is the second highest capital after La Paz, Bolivia. I believe it’s around 9,300 feet, if I read my Lonely Planet correctly.
We had to wait a bit to get through customs, but it was pretty straightforward. Then we met up with Stephanie, our extraordinary program leader. It was so good to see her face. She’s the reason I’m here, she’s the one who organized this entire trip and accepted me into the program. She sent me and Brooke off with Javier, a friend of the director of the Homestay Quito program, Gabriel. He graciously drove us to our hotel. I sat in the backseat, and caught my first glimpses of Quito through the half open window, feeling the warm humid breeze on my face and hearing Lady Gaga through Javier’s stereo. We went through part of downtown, passing through the Old Town and Mariscal Sucre, which I remembered from Lonely Planet to be the most touristy, most partying neighborhood of Quito. Javier pointed out that the barrio was dead because presidential elections are happening this week, and Ecuadoreans aren’t allowed to drink and party during elections.
We drove by the Universidad Católica, the university we’ll be taking our classes at (taught by our two UBC professors) and then we arrived at the Radisson Hotel. Me and my roommate Jayda scored a room on the top floor; although it’s dark, I know our view from our window tomorrow will be insane. Now I just have to get used to not drinking or brushing my teeth in the tap water; haven’t had to do that since I went to Mexico City a couple years ago. It’s just safer not to drink it; thankfully there are bottles of purified water. And there was a plate for each of us, with a truffle and a shortbread cookie! Of course I thought that was just precious, and it also was the perfect late night snack.
Tomorrow, we have orientation and then a tour of Quito! I’m so excited to see the city in the daylight! It has been raining here though; crossing my fingers for sun!
Buenas noches, Quito; hasta mañana!