After a long hard month of looking for work in Ecuador I finally landed a gig teaching English. Up to this point I had sent out countless emails to schools and recruiters, had interviews but had yet to get any type of solid job offer. Everyone would say, “Oh this looks wonderful, your CV and experience are exactly what we are looking for, we will give you a call!” and my phone never rang. On Tuesday, I had an interview set up with the school that a friend of mine was working at and the interview was lukewarm at best. The woman I met with who was also the director was dealing with a horrible case of sun poisoning and was a little reluctant about hiring me because I wouldn’t be around all year which is understandable. I left the school feeling a little irritated since it had seemed like a done deal from speaking to her on the phone and via email and walked the 30 minutes back to my apartment when there I saw it, about 5 blocks from my house, an English school. I decided since I was dressed for an interview and had all my documents in order that I would march into that school and demand a job. I walked into the building, asked for the school director and saw him in about 5 minutes time. He looked over my stuff, seemed pleased and told me he would call me the next day. Lo and behold, he called me that same evening at dinner and the next afternoon I was teaching at a university which was coincidentally one of my goals for the year. Lesson learned: if you shake enough trees something is bound to fall out .
Last weekend we took a trip to a little resort town called Baños, which is famous for its hot springs. It was a wonderful way to unwind after navigating the city streets of Quito, but what sticks out in my mind was the bus ride there.
Baños is nearly four hours away from Quito, and halfway through our ride two young women carrying babies boarded the bus. Our bus was already full, so they stood in the aisles. I kept waiting for someone to stand up and give them a seat, but no one budged.
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. It was outrageous that in a bus full of people, no one would give up their seat for a young mother carrying a baby. I walked to the front of the bus and offered the women my seat. One of the women squeezed past me with her baby and sat down. A few moments later, a few people got off the bus, and the other woman (who turned out to have a second child in tow) sat down on a plastic stool crammed in the last row of seats.
The polite Westerner sitting next to the young mother offered me his seat. The mother had her arms full with the baby so her young daughter sat on my seat with me and I held on to the little girl as the bus jostled us along the bumpy road.
In my broken Spanish we tried to strike up a conversation. It hit me like a tidal wave when she said she was the same age as me – 24. Except unlike me, she had three children and had been married since she was sixteen. She was on her way to visit her husband, who is stationed in the army three hours away from her hometown. She makes the 6-hour trip every two weeks to see him. When I asked her for how much longer he will be in the army, she said, For life. (more…)
Everyday when I wander around the streets of Quito, something reminds me of Europe: the bakeries remind me of France, the crowded plaza and parks of Madrid, the painted church domes and ceilings of Florence, the numerous mom and pop shops of everywhere.
On a spontaneous overnight trip, Ryan and I left Quito on Wednesday afternoon in search of fresh air and adventure. We took a 2 hour bus to the small town of Latacunga and were fortunate enough to breeze into the perfect hostel and snag the last available beds. Of course, at that hour they were both upper bunks in 10-person dorm rooms, but who’s complaining?
My experience in Quito thus far can be summarized in the 2 words that comprise the title of this post. I have had the pleasure of traveling all over the globe in my life time and never have I adjusted so quickly to living in a foreign country . When I first arrived here 3 weeks ago today I had no idea that this city and country would win me over so quickly. I think it’s the colonial architecture that reminds me of my time in Mexico, or maybe it’s the Spanish that is beautifully spoken all around, the music, or the food that is so delicious. Something makes me feel that I have been here before and I probably liked it back then too. To be fair though it hasn’t been all perfect for me here, we have been repeatedly warned about the safety concerns in around the city, I have yet to find a job and am still trying to make sense of the Ecuadorean way of life. I am making a trip along with a friend to Mindo which is an awesome little town about 2 and a half hours from Quito. The place is supposed to be in a cloud forest and be full of animals and amazing plant life for me to photograph. I can’t wait. Hope to have some good shots for this weekend.
The first major hurdle in Quito was finding a place to call home which we did in a very short amount of time, I arrived on a Wednesday night and we were moving into the the 3 bedroom on Carrion Street that Monday afternoon. Job hunting has not been easy for us in Quito. I have been pounding the pavement on foot, by taxi and on the public buses. I have gone to 4 or 5 schools where I have been asked to fill out an application and leave my resume, then I’m usually told “Thanks for stopping by. Someone will be getting back to you shortly.” This is the time to hustle and keep our noses to the grindstone. I did go to an elementary school this weekend in a very colonial part of the old town where I met with the principal and he seemed very receptive and loved my CV. One issue I am finding is not physically having my degree with me in Quito is apparently closing some doors for me as schools need this to verify your education. After the last interview I got on the horn with my family back home in Chicago and hopefully they can send it my way this week. My goal is to have a job before the month is out.
Okay I finally figured out how to post stuff on this, so I’m going to let you know how my first seven hours went in Quito. First and foremost let me describe Quito in my point of view. All you have to do is take water world, Tortuga (pirates of the Caribbean), and Conan the barbarian and put them all together. This place is awesome with babies on motorcycles, to the graffiti on every single decaying wall in sight.
But there they were Freddie, Laurene, and Evan the filmer. As we got more acquainted in the taxi back to the apartment we made small conversation as I just looked in aw as I new I already loved the city, because it looked like the after effects of Armageddon. I was shown the apartment and we went out to buy knives!
Being something I would have done anywhere I was pumped to get my blade. We walked in the store and within 15 seconds I found my baby. Black with a little silver button that flipped that blade open as if it were happy to see me. After I bought Jasmine we went back to the apartment to get ready ato go out. Freddie and Evan ran into some guys saying they were putting on an art show. So they threw that idea at us and I was in. So off to No Lugar (no place) we went. We caught a taxi which by the way drives 87 miles an hour through tiny narrow streets honking at everything. Another mile an hour and we would have ended up in 1955 playing Johnny Be Good at our parents’ Enchantment Under the Sea dance.
We were walked through a small set of stairs leading into a small alley way….I held onto Jasmine pretty tight. The alley way lead to an amazing view of the city light up like thousands of gold coins spilled and sparkling. To the left of the alley was an open door which had posters that had porn covers painted on in a different aspect….Although the art was pretty good I think that little Colombian artist was just perving as he drew it all. We went back out to the deck area and mingled with the locals. Well Freddie and Evan did; I just stood there pretending I knew why they were laughing. After about an hour we decided to take off and go get some food.
As we headed back to where we lived – Santa Clara – I started to get tired until I read a sign that read pizza and a coke $1.50. As we ate our pizza Evan began to give me a rundown about these party buses you can rent out basically to just show off and drive through the city. We finished our food and left walking aimlessly through the town. My mind was still on this damn party bus and wouldn’t you know it here one comes blasting awful music and people shouting. I could only stare because I was in shock. My dream for the night was about to come true, well I thought so at least. We crossed the street and before anyone said anything I ranced (ran danced) after the bus as it stopped on the side of the road. I stared at the “security” guard with confidence and a huge smile making gestures to let me on.
Then BOOM I was on and IT was also on. I looked back just to see if anyone else wanted to share my excitement when I see Evan with a big smile running after the bus. The bus stopped but I sure didn’t. Like I said it was on I just danced in the middle of everyone. As Evan climbed on so did Freddie and Laurene. Not thinking and not meaning to, I danced on some girl who turned out to be a fairly large man’s lady. Still filled with euphoria I was Johnny noodle legging that entire bus up and down until I felt a bear claw on my shoulder. Smiling I looked back – at the moment I thought it was Satan – but ended up just being the girl’s boyfriend. Yelling at me in Spanish I couldn’t help but laugh because of the situation. Satan didn’t like this and pushed me. As Evan began to reach for the camera, Bear’s girlfriend and a few others began to kick us all out. We turned around in defeat until Evan saw a girl he met the previous day and she was pumped and invited us all back on. But the damage was done and Satan bear was not having it.
Although that night was a lost battle the war of the party bus has just been declared by yours truly. And if Bear satan is on again he better be prepared for some Johnny noodle legs. -REMPTION-
On my first day in Ecuador the entire cast was finally united and we strolled through Old Town on our way to El Panecillo (the Little Bread Loaf), a famous hill with incredible views of Quito.
(QUITO: Premières impressions)
I have been in Quito for two weeks now. I do like this city a lot, and love Ecuador even more. I feel at home.
Voici deux semaines que je suis à Quito. J’aime beaucoup cette ville, et l’Equateur encore plus. Je me sens chez moi.