I arrived in Ecuador Friday evening, but due to my program schedule and the strength of the Catholic church, this has been my first opportunity to write. Given that I write slowly and am in the midst of "Una Adventura Grande", I´ll be keeping most of these posts short and sweet...but they´ll hopefully portray some of the flavor of mi experiencia. To start, here are a few of my first impressions:
1) The landscape is gorgeous! Usually when you land in a new place, you break through clouds and see a city below. When you fly into Quito, you see lush green mountains stabbing into the sky with a city blanketing the cracks. Beautiful.
2) Little dogs are all the rage. It seems like every other family has three small terriers (my host family has none). All rules are broken, however. Yesterday night I saw someone walking a spotted great dane.
3a) Food is CHEAP and always fresh. If you´re a big eater, three dollars should cover you for a hefty meal. If you´re a person of refined tastes, however, you can always go for the 8oz steak...it´s around $5 including sides.
3b) We had a "sweet bread" (i.e. pound cake) with breakfast yesterday. Today, because it was no longer "fresh", my host mom walked to the corner to buy a 2' loaf of french bread...it was $0.50.
4) Being a gringo is not cheap. All of the "comforts of America" come at American prices. The McDonalds is huge and similar to home, and the restaurantes at La Plaza de las Americas (sort of a giant food court) have entrees in the $8-$15 range.
5) The people very warm and welcoming (and their Spanish "es muy claro"). Though a little nervous about speaking Spanish with natives outside my program, my first few interactions have all been very smooth and easy.
6) It turns out my program is organized with 1 week in Quito, 2 weeks in Puyo, and the final week in Quito. In other words, one week of Spanish school before I hit the Amazon! Crazy, no? Also, while in Puyo we´ll be visiting the surrounding villages, doing malaria outreach, staying with indigenous Shuar(sp?) peoples, and collecting disease vectors (i.e. beatles). Don´t worry, we have prophylactics and bed nets for that. When not in the jungle, Puyo is a happening small city and a BIG fan of karaoke I hear. I´ll let you know how that goes.
I hope all is well in "Gringolandia"! I love and miss you all!
*I apologize for any typos in my blogging...these keyboards are un poco diferente que the ones back home.