Today we slept in a little bit longer, and I had the same breakfast here at the hotel: omelette and then a massive plate of fresh fruit. We had an even longer day of orientation, with a presentation by Gabriel, the homestay director, and another by Carla, our guide from yesterday. We were supposed to have our tour of the Banco Central (the main museum in Quito), but it was closed because it was voting day today. With the two presentations, we spent a total of five hours in the meeting room. We were all pretty antsy and hungry at that point.
A group of us went to the Supermaxi afterwards, the Walmart of Ecuador, to pick up some supplies. Because I carried on all my luggage (a large backpacker’s backpack and my smaller North Face backpack), I could only bring the quart-size bag of liquids, so I stocked up on shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and lotion. A bunch of us bought roses for our mamas ecuatorianas (Ecuadorean mothers): tomorrow’s the day our homestay families pick us up, AND it’s Mother’s Day.
We then went to Todo Ecuador for dinner, on the Avenida 12 de octubre on the way back to our hotel. Not like my ceviche at La Choza last night wasn’t awesome, but somehow my meal tonight seemed even better. My friend Raquel and I shared four dishes, all appetizers: two empanadas, one cheese and one with meat; sopa de bola, essentially a maíz (corn) and meat soup with giant balls of meat-stuffed maíz; and encebollado, a traditional Ecuadorean seafood and onion broth soup with pork, onions, and chunks of what appeared to be potato (but could have also been yucca). All I can say is WOW; the food was absolutely delicious. The waiter was super friendly so our table left him a generous tip. Seriously, though: four dishes (and the soup serving size was HUGE) for $10? Split? Incredible deal.
I just got back from one of the malls in Quito; we took the hotel van there in a large group, with plans to see A Tus Espaldas (an Ecuadorean film about a poor man from south Quito who ends up becoming rich), but the 7:00 showing was full and a couple of us didn’t want to stay for the 9:00 showing because we have to get up early tomorrow. We walked around the mall a little bit, but then Lauren, Marisa, and I decided we were ready to leave.
You know the phrase “do one thing every day that scares you”? Well we surely did just that: we hailed our own taxi. This morning, Gabriel had told us the SAFE taxis to look for: the regular yellow ones, but with placas naranjas (orange license plates) and the title of the taxi company and the number of the taxi itself on the side of the car. He said that those taxis were the most reliable, and that some of the others were either operating illegally, were unsafe, or were known for ripping off tourists. Thus it took us a while to catch sight of a good taxi, but after like ten minutes, we saw one and I stepped into the street to flag it down, which we had seen a bunch of locals do as they were leaving the mall. Stephanie also told us to ask up front how much they’d charge us to get from the mall to the hotel. I opened the door and asked the driver: “Necesitamos ir al hotel Radisson, en 12 de octubre y Luis Cordero. ¿Cuánto nos cobra?” He said it’d cost $4, but Marisa and Lauren told me to bargain; we’d pay $3, because we only have that much. “¿Podemos pagar $3? Sólo tenemos tres.” He agreed, so we hopped in the back. SUCCESS. Three gringo girls hailed their own taxi in a foreign country and returned safely to their hotel! Maybe it doesn’t like much of an achievement, but I’m still proud. And now I know I’ll be able to do it again if I need to…which is good, considering the bus system here seems way more intimidating. It’s nothing like the system in Vancouver which I’ve grown so used to. Much more confusing, and there are very designated stops, so it’s pretty much a fend for yourself; I’ve literally seen people like jump off when they want to get off.
Jayda just got back from the mall with Guanabana juice and a COCONUT ready for drinking! It tastes DELICIOUS.
I’m not sure when my next post is going to be. Our families pick us up tomorrow! I’m a little nervous, but also really excited. I’ve been emailing and Facebooking my host brother, Gabriel, and he seems really nice, so that makes me hopeful. But in terms of blogging, I’m not sure if my family had Wifi or a computer in their house or not. Not all of the host families do. Either way, I’ll do my best to update you guys on my Ecuadorean adventures, either through this phone and Wifi or at an Internet cafe; they’re everywhere. ¡Que todo vaya bien mañana y que no me olvide el español! ¡Hasta pronto! See you soon.