El Año Nuevo!

I’ve survived my first week in another country!!!

The first few days were rough… I’m not gonna lie. Mostly because I was still sick and on top of that, I had (still have) altitude sickness. I literally can’t walk up a flight of stairs without being completely out of breath.

But things are better now. Aside from a few ups and downs… Monday afternoon Emily and I got to the UIO airport and took a taxi to our host family’s house (which is super nice, btw). Our taxi driver was really nice but could not find the address we were looking for… After going up and down the street a few times she told us she didn’t think the address existed, so we tried calling the number that’s supposed to reach our host family and it was a bad number. Great. By this point I’m freaking out. I mean I already had the flu and I was carsick because these Ecuadorians drive CRAZY and I was not having it. Finally she drove a little further down the street and found it. Thank goodness.

Here’s the view from our host family’s house. It’s wayyy uphill from everything but it makes for a nice view.

Emily and I are taking Spanish classes at Academica Columbus, which is a quick two-minute walk from our host family’s house. I’m really enjoying classes so far. The classes are very individualized and we get a lot of one-on-one attention. In Quito I haven’t done much yet… I’ve gone to the MegaMaxi which is like their Walmart and I’ve taken buses around town but other than that, after classes I’ve been taking siestas. The flu has seriously wiped me out. I’m feeling a lot better now though so I’m excited to get to do more these coming weeks!

Wednesday was New Year’s Eve and we were invited out with some friends from school: David and Stephan from Germany and Mido from Egypt. We went to a cute little restaurant in the Mariscal District (Gringolandia as the locals call it) and then went out for drinks. I had hot chocolate but the others had lots of cerveza (beer). We had a lot of time to kill before midnight so we went to a small discoteca where they played some American music for us, haha!

In Ecuador it’s a New Year’s tradition to burn paper mache dolls of cartoon characters to “get rid of the past year.” It was a little weird to see flaming cartoon characters on every street corner. The whole city smelled like burning paper.

Most of the characters were small but some were huge, like this Captain America with Spiderman hands…

Some were terrifying like this guy…. I don’t even know what it is…

Another tradition is for the men to dress up as women, dance around on the streets and ask for money, stuffed bras and all. And they do get money! It was hilarious to watch. One of my teachers said he dressed up for it… I wish I could’ve seen that.

Everyone in the Mariscal bought these sparkler things from street vendors. They’d hold them up in the air and shake them and sparks would fly out the top… It looked like something from Harry Potter, so I liked it!

We took a taxi home shortly after midnight and I slept unti 11 the next day  because I didn’t have class. I’m not one for going out but I had a good time that night and I’m glad I got to experience New Year’s in a new country!

This weekend I went to Tena, a small (to me) town in the middle of the jungle. I seriously had a blast there, but I’ll write about that when I have time tomorrow 🙂

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