After traveling for about 14 hours without my cell phone or internet (oh man was I lost), I arrived in Quito, Ecuador and after dodging hundreds of Ecuadorians I found my bag and was greeted by my host brother, Alvero and his German girlfriend Nadine. It was one in the morning and an interesting ride to Cumbaya, the valley outside Quito where they live and the university is located, with a mixture of Spanish, English, and German being spoken. We arrived to their house which is huge and I met my host mother, Jeanethe, and she showed me my room. It's so huge- I'm pretty sure my bed is king size, I have a 40 something inch tv and my own bathroom and a window looking onto the patio which has a pool. I'm shocked that I have a nicer place here than at home. Also, they have a maid who cooks and cleans daily which is really weird because everyday when I get back my stuff is slightly rearranged which kind of bugs me.
My first day, we drove into Quito to the IES Abroad center and I met 10 other students on the program and we sat through orientation in Spanglish about health and safety and Ecuadorian culture. A police officer talked to us about safety and made us all get up and dance and then offered us drinks to explain to us not to accept drinks from strangers to avoid getting date raped which was an... interesting... icebreaker for us all. We went to lunch at this really nice hotel overlooking a valley which was awesome. In Ecuador, the main meal is almuerzo (lunch) and they eat soup, a main dish, and dessert and they drink juice. I've tried so many new juices in the past few days, all of which have been delicious. Ecuador is virtually self-sufficient on food (they rely on the US for wheat, although they produce some here) so everything is super fresh.
Thursday, we went back to the IES abroad center and turned in forms to register our visas, learned more about culture, health and safety and after waiting out a freak hail storm, we went on a city tour. We went to la iglesia de la compania de jesus, a church completely covered in gold on the inside, we toured el colegio san fernando and went to the roof which was super cool and we went to dinner at a hotel in the main square of the city where we were served ice cream on dry ice by a guy dressed in purple robes that looked like the kkk.
Friday we had orientation at the actual university, la Universidad San Franscico de Quito, which is only about a 3-5 minute walk from my homestay. The campus is gorgeous which almost made the 3 extra lectures on health and safety worthwhile. So... if you ever plan on traveling to Quito, let me know because I am fully informed on how to stay safe and healthy- lets hope it pays off and I have no problems while here.
Today, Saturday, all of the Galapagos Islands (GAIAS) students went on a city tour. In addition to the 11 of us from IES, there's a huge group from Chapel Hill NC, a group of grad students from Oregon and some others as well. I think there's about 40 of us total. We went back to la iglesia de la compania de jesus and the main square of Quito, but we also walked around the colonial part of the city, went to a park that has a cool overview of the city and we went to the north and got to straddle the equator.