Trying to write about my first week in Ecuador positively is like trying to be nice to that one girl from high school you hated when you run into her four years later. You can´t quite remember why she got under your skin so much but mostly you just want to get away from her as soon as possible.
It´s not that this week has been particularly bad per se, more like a constant loop of embarrassing moments, dirty bus seats, poor internet connections, accidental insults, and whistles out car windows. All in all I’ve been in a state of near terror that I´m doing something wrong when really, I´m doing multiple things wrong, the least of which have to do with my verb conjugations.
Every morning I pack my bag to leave: homework, lunch, planner, water bottle, pens, camera, rain jacket, sunglasses. I check and double-check, trying to make sure I´m ready for the day. Even when I´ve got everything prepared something always goes awry. Sometimes I end up carrying my backpack while salsa dancing in Plaza Foch because I took the wrong bus and didn´t have time to drop it off at home. Other times I get caught in the usual mid-afternoon downpour on my way to class, showing up twenty minutes late, dripping.
My Mami, Loly, tells me I´m going to love Ecuador and I´m 100% sure she´s right. As I rode the bus downtown today a man got on with a boom box and started playing music, while his companion walked around trying to sell CDs. The too-fast lyrics in Spanish were a perfect soundtrack to a city I´m just beginning to wrap my head around.
Here, where the city smells like petrol and bike tires, I miss the clear air of the North woods; but to be fair, Quito is quickly growing on me. While I still miss sinking into the futon in my apartment in St. Paul, climbing to the top of the Cathedral in Quito and getting coffee in La Ronda at midnight are things I won´t quickly forget.
I keep congratulating myself on the little things: I communicated to Loly that I would love a fried egg for breakfast! I put more minutes on my cell phone! I only over-paid the taxi driver by 20 cents instead of 50 cents like last time! I found a place to use Skype! I figured out how to use the “@” sign on a Spanish keyboard!
But for the most part, I still feel completely out of my depth, a gaping, wide-eyed gringa with no idea what´s going on.
Poco a poco, cada dìa.
Once I figure out where to get a coffee with milk in it, I´ll be golden.