July 29 – PM
What an amazing day! I know I wrote this morning – but where to begin?
The altitude here has some funny effects. I notice the change in two ways. First, I sneeze all the time. Everyone else has said the same. Today I probably sneezed like 20 times in a row. It’s nuts. Also, I get really out of breath going up the stairs. I mean I know I’m out of shape and that happens in the USA, but this is extreme. We all are huffing and puffing after like half a flight. It’s interesting. Also, the sun is so strong! And they weren’t kidding about it getting cold at night here.
This morning we went downstairs to breakfast. We had this crazy array of juices to choose from, and being adventurous I went for the bright orange papaya juice. Bad choice. It was nast. But the rest of breakfast is good. Ecuadorian food has tons of crazy sauces. I’m lovin it. After breakfast we had a neat time where we all went around and talked about what schools we go to, what our major is, where we’re from, why we chose Ecuador to study abroad, our hobbies, and we talked about our families. It was so cool to get to know everyone. Our BCA leaders are awesome. Their names are Pablo and Nieves. Nieves is this awesome lady who loves the microphone and speaks pretty broken English. She bosses her husband around a lot which cracks us up. But she is so warm and kind. Pablo is a real jokester. He’s always saying these corny things but we laugh anyways. He’s pretty forgetful so we’ve learned real fast to ask Nieves detail-oriented questions. Pablo’s love for the city is awesome though. He is American and Nieves is Ecuadorian. They met when he came here from the peace corps and she was his troop’s Spanish teacher. They’re wonderful. Nieves pulled me aside this morning and said I could pick someone to live in the house with me (in the upstairs apartment). I talked to a girl Kara that I met and really liked, and she jumped at the chance! She goes to bridgewater and is a psych major. I think we will really hit it off. Her Spanish teacher also lived with Beatriz and Rodrigo, so she also has a weird connection to them! What an answer to prayer that God worked that out!
After our meeting we went on a bus tour of the city. The mountains – okay – I know you might be picturing the ones in Dillsburg – let’s call those “hills”. These mountains are out of this world. Every turn you take is this amazing postcard-like view. I took so many pictures today…you just can’t help it. God is so incredible to have designed a place like this. The first place we went to was called “El Virgin de Panecillo” which is a sweet statue, and when you go to it you can see the whole city from its base. There are cute little vendors there and we got ice cream bars that were some weird type of passionfruit flavor called “taxo”. The fruits here are loco loco. So many. We had a great time. Then we went to a couple of major plazas in the city. We went into some beautiful old churches. One of the churches was called the Iglesia Sebastian, which is one of the seven oldest churches in Latin America. There are lots of people wearing indigenous clothing even in the heart of the city. It’s so beautiful. At the statue there was this huge group of little nuns and they were so precious! I shamelessly took their picture… forgive me Lord… haha. I made friends with this little girl named Evelyn today outside of one church. She was so cute – I’ll put up a picture with her at some point. The second plaza we went to was called el plaza de la republica. There were all these political protests going on – it was fascinating. It felt very safe though. We went into the lobby of the president’s palace, too. The architecture is amazing. Why don’t we build stuff like that anymore?
Next, our leaders wanted us to be able to practice taking a taxi for the first time. We split into groups of four and it was so fun! We talked to our driver the whole way to the restaurant for dinner. He told us all about Quito and the places we should go. Our dinner restaurant was called Alice’s, and it was the best dinner ever. There was an Andean band that came and serenaded us the whole time! We’re not talking your run-of-the-mill el rodeo mariachi band. They were GOOD. We all clapped the whole time… haha speaking of…this one boy from my group is so funny, he marches to the beat of his own drum, he was clapping with his fingers. You might not think it’s that funny but ask me to demonstrate it for you sometime and maybe you will! Haha. I sat with Christa and Arelis at dinner and we had a blast. We laughed so much. Our meal was like 5 courses and so good. Everything I try is such an adventure. They served us red wine with dinner. I tried a sip of it and I hated it! Oh my gosh it was horrible! I always wondered what it tasted like and now I know. No thank you. It like burns going down and tastes so bitter… blech. No one else at my table hardly touched theirs. Now our dessert on the other hand – fried plantains and passionfruit mousse – that was gone pretty quick. Then we came back to the hotel and we’re heading to bed. Tomorrow we register for courses so that should be interesting!
Guys, I love it here. I wish I could take all of you and plop you in Quito and live here forever. You’d love it too. Come visit and you’ll see what I mean! People have said that to me before – that it’s this amazing place – and I never understood. After just one day I get it, at least I think I do. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be here and so excited for what’s in store. God is good!