I wanted to live with a host family to improve my language skills and to learn more about the culture; this was also the only option for my program, so that helped me make my decision. I’m living with a middle-aged woman in an apartment on the 5th or 6th floor of a complex in the north part of Quito. She has four children, all fully grown. One daughter lives in our building, pretty much across the hall. Another just moved out a couple weeks ago, to another building in the complex, with her son, who is less than two years old. As an aside, he just started speaking when they moved, and he knows my name, and we read Toy Story books together.
|Chiquita, the toy-poodle-esque guard dog of the house|
The apartment consists of a kitchen (also the laundry room), three bedrooms, a living space, and 1.5 bathrooms. The benefit of a small place is that I don’t have to worry about much, and I don’t feel out of place. It is a quiet space, and the view from my window is beautiful. I have unpacked everything. Slowly but surely, I’m starting to settle in, accompanied by my stuffed chameleon, who travels with me.
|View of North Quito from my room|
The apartment is only one block from my bus station, and I need only take one bus to get to the university. This is a time when I am so happy I don’t get car sick. Although the roads are better paved than some I’ve been on in Guatemala and Sierra Leone, there are a lot of turns and winding roads as we go to the valley of Cumbayá. Also, yes, that is the real name, and, yes, I do sometimes get the campfire/church song stuck in my head.
I am definitely lucky to have spent time in Denver before leaving for here because the altitude change has affected me much less than some other students. Although I still have some headaches, and I can get winded running up the stairs to the apartment, I feel pretty good. I really think we need a baseball team here, just to see how far the home runs can go in the thin air. The air is dry, but it is supposed to start the rainier season soon, so the humidity will increase a bit. Because of the altitude, the sun is much stronger, meaning I have to remember sunscreen regularly, to not look like a tomato gringa.