Well, here’s another quotidian-life post, which I suppose is overdue if anyone cares to read these things. I’ve been in Quito for some time now; I have a great, secluded reading place (see the picture!) and I’m slowly recovering my Spanish – thankfully I wasn’t as wretched as I thought I’d be after so many years of disuse. It’s been hard to adjust to a city like this after so many months in a rural-ish area of Uganda, and the Himalayas before that. It’s almost surreal to have Internet at the house I’m staying at (a great place that’s kind of like the Dead House of Quito, with less-talented guitarists), not to mention a functioning and efficient (if not absurdly crowded) public transportation system. Don’t get me wrong, I miss the eccentric and insane Kazakh bus system – how couldn’t I? – but a proper bus system puts Ugandan matatus and bodas, and Himalayan rogue jeeps, to shame. Unfortunately, unlike Paris, jumping the turnstiles like a hooligan is nearly impossible.
I’ve started working primarily at an orphanage that facilitates adoptions – this is more or less the first, since in India and Uganda I did not work with children who were “available” for adoption, and in Kazakhstan foreign adoptions were still illegal and I never heard of a child from the Almaty orphanages I was visiting being adopted by a Kazakh family. The center is run by American missionaries, but unlike where I was working in Uganda, the organization is well-run, the children are clean and attended to (una tía para cinco ninos y nunca más) and there is plenty of stimulation, discipline, and engagement. Starting next week, I’ll spend my mornings there (an unfortunate 1.5 hour trek on a series of buses to the very north of Quito) and head back to central Quito, where I live, to work with street children in the afternoon. Families from rural areas often send their children to the city to work as vendors; there is an excellent organization that sponsors these children so they can attend school. In March I will likely spend sometime at an orphanage that also cares for children with special needs in Latacunga, so look forward to some pictures of volcanoes.
Unfortunately on my brief stop in Europe en route to Ecuador, I found out I was maybe not so strong and healthy as I would like to think. I’ll spare you the details, but I have been spending a lot of time sleeping, and I have not had the energy or focus to read and blog and take full advantage of this wonderful city. Hopefully I will be feeling better soon, and get out and around to appreciate this vibrant country properly. After my experience on the Nile, maybe I’ll even try Part Deux in the Amazon, and there are a lot of great hikes around Quito I want to explore.
La Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador is nearby, and I’ve looked into joining some seminars at the Facultad de Filosofía y Teología, but that depends on how much time I have in the coming months. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to survive earthquakes, know the children, get my energy back, and not fail too hopelessly at learning Dutch (Thanks for the calendar, Myriam!).