Bienvenido a Quito

Trip Start Jan 23, 2008
Trip End May 23, 2008

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hola de Quito Ecuador!

Our first day in Ecuador was a huge success. Our Primary Objective for the day was to select a language school, with the hopes of starting classes and a homestay next Monday. We had researched schools using our guidebook and the Internet, and had it narrowed down to The Final Four. We felt it was important to see the schools before deciding on one. Fortunately, they were all within about a mile of each other, and the walk from school to school would take us through the City´s largest parks, the Mariscal Sucre, the heart of Quioto´s New Town (also known as Gringolandia), and along some of the key streets.

Well, after sleeping in until about 11:00 am, we finally set out in a lovely warm day, deferring breakfast until we found something tempting along the way. We eventually found the first school (with a few detours, map consultations, and heffalump tracking, and Aha! moments) Instituto Superior de Espagnol.

We were so pleased with this school that we decided to forgo further research and sign up. They seem organized and sincere, and even work with several local non-profits offering volunteer opportunities. We both enrolled for a pretty intensive week with 4 hours of group instruction in the morning, followed by 2 hours of private instruction in the afternoon. This sounds a little exhausting, but I´m game to try upgrade my Spanish from Cookie Monster (Me want cookie eat please) to Elmo (Steph would like to eat a cookie please). Bill is more at the Gonzo level (in many ways) so we will be in different classes. We are both so excited to learn!
Quito is pretty, interesting, and pretty interesting The architecture is a mix of 18-century Dutch colonial and what I call Danish Modern Ugly. Our hotel, the L´Auberge Inn is more the former, with a nice courtyard, red tile roof, and both indoor and outdoor fireplaces. The streets feel quite safe during the day, but you can see why ones takes cabs nearly everywhere at night. The heart of Gringolandia is probably safe from bad guys, but one may be overcome by throngs of chic clubbers and throbbing basslines. Adventure takes many forms.

Our breakfast was one such example. Around 3:00 pm, we made our way to Mama Cosalita´s, touted as the best place for traditional Ecuadorian food. We found the prices a little high (up to $8 for entrees, and $18 for the local delicacy, raosted Guinea Pig) so decided to stick to soup. Adventure arrived in the form of White Corn and Beef Leg Soup. A large fatty joint floats restfully in an murky broth, topped with a delicate oily sheen, with white corn kernals lending a surprising crunch from the murky depths. No me gusta, but I ate most of it (save the fat).

After a successful mission and cullinary adventure, we ambled back to our hotel for a few winks (4 hour nap). Life is bueno!!!!
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