At this point my life has more or less settled into a routine. I will attempt to inject the mundane facts with as much fascinating detail as I can. Now that I’m more familiar with the city I can supply context that will help. I live in the North of Quito, first of all. All of the major streets in the city run North/South and there are several major streets and trolley lines that go from one side to the other. Since most tourist sites are towards the center of the city, when I want to go places I generally just “travel South” by bus, trolley or taxi.
If you picture a city block like the one to the right, the street on the bottom is called Shyrris (Shee-dees) and is a busy street with restaurants, stores, banks etc. The street on the left is Rio Coca and the one at the top is Isla Seymour (Say-mor), which is my street. I live about the fourth entrance from the left on the top row.
I say entrance because almost all houses/apartments in Quito are behind locked gates that lead to driveways or patios. Behind my entrance is a long driveway with staircases that lead to roughly six apartments, three stories on each side. Our apartment is the bottom floor on the left.
Monday through Friday I have been leaving for school around 8:30 a.m. After a breakfast of yogurt, fruit salad, ham and cheese melt (on a roll), and fresh squeezed fruit juice, I leave the house, walk around the corner and across the street to the bus stop, and take the 25 cent ten-minute ride to school. In the morning, the six students in the Microfinance track have class together for two hours with our track coordinator, Jacqueline Campoverde, or guest speakers. We then have a two hour lunch break. Students either go to lunch in one of the tiny cafés nearby or purchase bread, cheese, fruit, avocado or American junk food at the stands on the road. I usually use the rest of the time to do homework. In the afternoon, we have two hours of Spanish class. We spend a lot of time discussing new words or phrases we’ve heard or don’t understand but also do lots of interactive exercises and games. Recently we each read a short story in Spanish and presented it to the class. Our teacher, Beto, is a master at making grammar fun. To reinforce the preterite perfect (I have…), we played “Never have I ever…” After Spanish, I walk or take the bus home and get ready for soccer. I am training with the women’s club team at Universidad Católica, which is a 30-45 minute bus ride in traffic. We train from 5:30 to 8:30 Monday–Thursday. The team has been a great way to practice Spanish, get to know people and participate in my favorite sport! I get home from soccer at 9 p.m., drink coffee and eat rolls with my Mom and/or my Abuelos (who live above us), work on homework and go to bed!
The weekends are often much more relaxed. Last weekend I toured several churches in Historic Quito one day and attended a professional soccer game another day. The soccer game (Barcelona vs. Independiente) was very lively; when the fans got upset they threw empty and full water bottles at the referee. Soccer is taken extremely seriously here. There is a whole section of the newspaper dedicated to disseminating the results of the weekend’s soccer games. This weekend, I attended an Ecuadorian reggae concert featuring many of Bob Marley’s old and new hits. The three bands that played had wonderful grooves and singers fluent in both Spanish and Caribbean sounding English. Smoke, lights, a free poster and a hundred dredlocked fans = una fiesta.