Ah, the beauty of a spanish keyboard, where an ñ is but one button away. I promise not to really blog in spanish, but I love how when you go to other countries all your familiar websites suddenly are in the appropriate language. Don´t hold it against me if I make lots of errors because of the subtle differences of the keyboards which I am then too lazy to delete. Ironically, as Katie pointed out, I actually have much more luxury to blog than she does or I did at home. I have a lot of time on my hands and ample internet access. I have internet in my hostel, for 4 cents a minute. I have internet at the place where I´m going to take spanish classes for 1 cent a minute, and the internet place I am at now is the same price. And there´s never any fancy cards or passwords involved, or paying by chunk of time, you simply waltz in and then pay for however many minutes you´ve used when you´re done. Or in the case of my hostel and school, at the end of the week when you settle your bill. So, in conclusion, expect much blogging from me.
At least I now have vaguely interesting things to report. If I never spend another day in Quito, I´ll feel like I got to know it pretty well in the last 24 hours. My hips are incredibly sore from all the walking. I´m enjoying that the city, while too big to truly be a walking city, has a ¨trole¨ that runs up and down the main streets between the old city (where I´m staying) and the new city (where the downtown/touristy stuff is), and you can pretty much walk around anywhere from there. There´s also a million busses going in every direction, but I´m a bit intimidated to try those yet. Basically they just drive around everywhere and have these guys that lean out the side while they drive by and announce the destination, and it´s your job to wave them down and jump on.
Yesterday basically involved me walking around for 7 hours around the city, much of the time in the pouring rain, without a map or really any idea of where I was going. Which would be just fine, except that I actually had several destinations in mind, and since there is no coherent address system that I can figure out, just the intersection of streets, and with the whole non-map carrying (and when I got one I wasn´t about to bust it out in the middle of the street) and not knowing where any of the streets are, let´s just say I covered a lot of miles. But now I feel like I know my way around pretty well, which is pretty impressive given that I had never set foot in this city until Tuesday night.
Weather: I discovered first hand what I´ve been hearing about Quito, in the rainy season at least, which lasts from October-May. (Good timing... b´oh...) In the morning it´s supersunny and in the low 70s, the kind of perfect weather which in the US would have all the guys in shorts and sandals and the women in sundresses and skanky tank tops. But here, EVERYONE wears pants and long sleeves AND sweaters, jackets, etc, even scarves! Then in the afternoon there´s giant thunderstorm action, which brings out a million people yelling ¨paraguas! 2 dolares!¨ Then it gets dark at like 6 pm. Remind me to become a morning person.
Tourism: The one thing I absolutely adore about Quito so far is that I seem to be able to blend pretty well. At least walking around in the old town yesterday morning, even though I was certainly the only gringo in sight, no one gave me a second look, and certainly no obnoxious male comments or touristy solicitations. Even in the downtown, supposedly tourist area, the only place I actually saw anyone else who I would assume was a foreign tourist was at the actual tourist destinations I happened to frequent. (The language school, the south american explorers club where I got a free map and some info.) And most of them weren´t American... german, australian, etc. And for a supposedly tourist center, the Mariscol area is actually pretty fun and funky rather than cheesy. Lots of hip coffee shops and some vegetarian/organic restaurants even. And again with the not actually seeing a lot of tourists, despite obvious signs in English and a high concentration of internet cafes and such.´
Money: Ah, the cheapness. I won´t brag anymore yet. They use US dollars, but the coins are a really hilarious mishmash of american coins, the ones they mint here, and whatever random foreign currency ends up in the mix. I definitely got a coin from the czech republic yesterday.
Language: So, tomorrow I start my first Spanish lesson. (At Vida Verde.) I get one-on-one teaching, 2 hours a day, and I´ll probably do it for the next two weeks. When I went to sign up yesterday I had to take this extensive grammar test. Oy... it´s a good thing the one day I was feeling ambitous about reviewing Spanish (ok,let´s be honest, it´s when I was really lazy at work and the bosses were out of town)I did the command forms, or I would have had to leave that whole section blank. Everything else came back to me pretty well, really I´m very shocked at how much grammar/vocab I´ve retained and how easily I can get around in Spanish here. Of course, it would be nice to carry on a longer conversation than "Puedo usar el internet"and "Gracias." Hence the lessons.
OK, I better stop now. I promise not to tell you every single thing I do every day. And I´ll work on getting pictures up soon... I think the easiest way will be to track down which of these million of internet places has wireless so that I can use my laptop. Also, I need to take some pictures first.
Sorry for the comment spam, I´ve been too lazy to delete them since I´m not automatically logged in on the computers that I´m using so that it involves doing more than clicking once. Maybe now I´ll at least get some Spanish spam.