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Apprendemos Espanol in Quito

Written on: Tuesday August 5th, 2008

A journal entry from: Trails in 2008

We decided to make Quito our home for 2 weeks and go to Spanish school.  We're doing 4 hours every morning, have the afternoons to do some exploring and usually an hour of homework with a cerveca (beer) in hand.  We're not sure if its the altitude (3,200 metres), the studying, or the fact its dark at 6pm but we're quite tired, so unlike us we're in bed by 10pm!  Except the weekends of course - we went out salsa dancing with a group of friends (locals are so natural at it, its embarassing to even try) but generally just to drink beers/rum and watch the fancy moves on the dance floor.
We moved in with a local family in the hope of practicing our stuttering spanish, the lovely Fausto and Consuela and their teenage daughter Pamela, in their nice top floor apartment in the new town.  They run a cafeteria in a private birthing centre, and we have never eaten so healthily, but unfortunately they are hard workers and not around very often to speak to, which kind of defeated the purpose, so we saved ourselves $20 a night and moved to a clean but budget hotel where at least the receptionist would put up with two bumbling triers...
We were lucky enough to be in Quito for Independence Day, it was a really well organised event with each plaza in town dedicated to a different theme - traditional music, contemporary dance, jazz, and our favourites, the seperate food and dessert plazas.  Unlike the other fiestas we've been to here, there was no alcohol in sight, a very sober but fun family affair that lasted until about 1am.
It's great to stay put for a while after being fairly non-stop since we started, especially in a city with fast internet connection so we can keep in touch with whats happening in the real world (and also try and catch up on the damned blog!).  We also have a few friends here we met in Colombia so its been good to have a friendly group to hang out with. 
Quito is the starting point for flights to the Galapagos Islands, which means there are a lot of foreigners traipsing through with a lot of money to dispose of.  This means that you can buy any kind of espresso coffee and fancy western food, and generally feel like you are not in South America - nice for a while I have to admit! 
This part of town has been informally named Gringolandia, and Al shuddered as I embarassingly shouted this through the door to the bus driver (best kiwi accent), when we had to get back to town one day.  This area is fairly notorious for muggings, usually at night time but they can also happen on quiet Sunday afternoons.  We came across a few people with interesting stories to tell and walked around half-expecting to be mugged but maybe we didnīt look like we had anything to offer!