By: Andrea Dennis
Since Sunday, I have been tooling around Quito and taking Spanish classes, made possible by Greenheart Travel.
I´ll start with the school. It is super quaint, with lots of internationals staying for short or long periods of time trying to master the fun language of Spanish. The classes are one-on-one and lots of conversation with about two major lessons per the 4 hours a day. Not only have I learned the futuro, I have also learned about why everyone in South America loves ¨Che,¨ certain famous musicians, and the history of relations with the indigenous peoples. Lots of education.
During the other hours of the day, aside from eating simple but always delicious meals in my host family´s kitchen, I have been exploring the city of Quito… which I still cannot figure out. The city itself sprawls between two major mountain ranges making every view picturesque. What I love about the city, and Ecuador in general, is the active indigenous population that maintains their dress, culture and way of life. Despite the fact they have been majorly marginalized in politics and society, there are still very much true to their roots. Often times, I have thought of our indigenous people in the U.S., the Native Americans, and how I wish we could have integrated and grown with them, rather than the genocide that occurred. Ecuador is proof that it could have happened. The city is part colonial, part developing, part touristy- a real melange of sites and emotions. Still perplexing, and ever interesting.
Yesterday I made it to the Mitad del Mundo, the middle of the earth. I went to this awesome experimental museum that showed all the unique aspects of gravity being on the equator. I felt as impressed as I did when I was a kid going to the Columbus, Ohio children’s museum, KOSI. I even won the certificate for making the egg stand directly on the nail. We also checked out some exhibits on the jungle (anacondas, shrunken heads, spiders), all in preparation for my overnight bus ride to the Lago Agrio, a border town to Colombia, and a frontier town to the jungle. For the next four days I will be sweating a lot and on high alert for animals and exciting all my senses on a jungle excursion.
Andrea J. Dennis