living in Mariscal (tourist disneyland)

February 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm 4 comments

In Quito, i’ve settled in a place called the “volunteer house,” a large colonial house in the Mariscal district, owned by a local woman who inherited it from her family. It’s actually completely unaffiliated with my school and is more of a hostel for long term volunteers. There are two floors with separate entrances and each floor has a kitchen and several bathrooms (with hot water usually.. which is imperative considering Quito’s cold weather. It’s actually warmer in NYC now and i’m wearing two pairs of pants, two sweaters, a raincoat, and real shoes) The heavy rains are a problem because nothing dries quickly in this city, not even the expensive underwear i bought that is suppose to dry in just 1 hour…

Mariscal is not only the tourist district but also the zenith of Quito’s nightlife. Bars, clubs, and whatever else stay open and noisy until 2 or 3 am, and my room, hardly 15 meters from the nearest bar, would be perfectly situated for quick drunken stupors back to bed if only i could pick up the alcohol habit ;)

What i’m really excited about today is FOOD! One of the reasons i chose to study in Ecuador is because my friend Francisco told me that here i could eat lots of delicious vegetarian food here. And so with my palate excited i went searching for all these delicious vegetables… and i could not find any. My first day i ate ceviche, a type of seafood soup with lime and corn, in one of the many cafeterias that are open only for lunch. It was delicious and cost only $1.25.

The next day and day after i ate lunch with students from my school but the places they choose didn’t really have veg or even fish options, and so for nearly three days i’ve subsisted on a small quantity of rice, a few beans, some chocolate, and many glasses of fresh juices and tea. Unlike Baku where fruit and vegetable venders occupy every corner, i’ve seen very few venders here and only at the most importune moments when i didn’t want to carry anything.

I’ve been longing for a hearty meal, one where i don’t have to wonder whether what i’m eating once walked. This afternoon, i finally found myself in a vegetarian restaurant and ordered an “almuerza” (literally meaning “lunch.” It’s a set meal that’s typical of all the cafeteria establishments in Quito that comes with soup, rice, some kind of protein, and juice). I devoured it in minutes. And then i ordered another. My first satisfying meal since Sunday… and later, i found the supermarket and bought quinoa, tomatoes and cheese.. which i will make for breakfast tomorrow so that i don’t come to my lessons hungry. My teacher is already used to asking me about whether i finally managed to eat anything :p

The lessons are going well and i like my teacher more. He started smiling and i imagine that sometimes he enjoys himself even. Yesterday we spent almost all the time talking and today we studied irregular verbs in the present tense and one of the 4 past tenses. I bought a book of folk stories in Spanish and read the author’s biography without trouble….although i still cannot talk to people on the street without forgetting almost every word i know…nerves i guess.

As i write this there is music and cheering outside and now it’s time for me to join the night… buenos noches =)


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , .

Quito, first days “ama sua, ama llulla, ama quella” (don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be lazy) – traditional Inca greeting

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tory  |  February 18, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Damn, you move fast. Already out of the states. Sorry I couldn’t make it to your moment in Brooklyn. I was indeed in North Carolina.

    Please keep writing. I’m very interested in your experiences learning Spanish. I’ll be going back to Latin America after three months in PA and I’m already afraid of how much Spanish I’m forgetting. You’re starting with no prior classes, right?


    • 2. Lena Shuster  |  February 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm

      how exciting to have a new reader :))
      where do you think you’ll go in three months? i’ll be somewhere in the south until july, hough not sure doing what and where.
      i studied spanish for many years in public school but all it left me with was knowing how to conjugate regular verbs in the present form. so i’ve come to learn how to speak here :)

      • 3. Tory  |  February 18, 2011 at 10:41 pm

        Or an old reader, we can say.

        I really liked the program at UNAM in Mexico City. It’s well-run and very professional in an interesting city in a country that’s far more complex than I thought before moving there, one with special resonance for the future of the United States, politically and otherwise.

        But I’d like to see someplace new and go somewhere with less pollution. Maybe Colombia, maybe somewhere in Southern Mexico like Oaxaca or Xalapa, maybe Ecuador if you give it a good recommendation.

        One of my goals is definitely to have a more grounded in-culture experience. Language learning being part of it.

        Yeah, I had the same deal with Spanish plus a month in Argentina with Hunter. Serious Educational Problem.

  • 4. Lena Shuster  |  February 18, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    I’m currently rethinking my time in Quito, it’s polluted, living amidst all this nightlife is distracting me too much, and these constant stories about being robbed are taking their tole…
    I’m considering going to a smaller town in the north called Otavalo, famous for its indigenous community. There are several Spanish schools there and plenty of opportunities for hiking and visiting villages nearby.
    My mom was a volunteer in Yucatan last year and had only positive experiences.. It’s teaching English but there are opportunities for practicing Spanish with locals…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 12 other followers


%d bloggers like this: