Hola!!! I've only been in Ecuador 2 days and looks like I'm practically fluent... or not haha. Though the language is getting much easier already I sense it'll be awhile before I start thinking in espanol or anything cool like that.
Just thought I'd try to put some of my first impressions down now as it's clear I will not have a lot of time to do so in the.
The trip here was relatively uneventful, besides being delayed a few hrs in the frozen tundra of the Miami airport (you think I'm being sarcastic but the AC was on hyperdrive or something)! Thankfully I had lots of company, 13 people from my program and a Quito native named Andra and her 18mo son Juan. The little guy kept us all endless entertained as we all frantically tried to finish the course readings. In a strange scenario I also ended up being seatmates with a former MSID student who was returning after 3yrs to work with a grad student. She was able to give me lots of helpful advice about the program and Quito, despite us having just boarded the 6AM flight from Minneapolis to Miami.
While I only met my host family yesterday I like them a lot. Genma, my host mom, is very friendly and has hosted several students before me. Her and her twin daughters Paulita and Camila (usually just Mila) are very patient with me and seem happy to teach me new words and correct my horrible grammar. They also have little white dog named Victoria or Vicky. We live in what I can best describe as a gated community, though Everything in Quito is fenced or walled in, where several apartment and duplex complexs surround a central parking lot and tennis court/play area for kids. There are 2 guards, who patrol (all the time?). This is what tipped me off that my family is definitely upper class, though since Genma works at some sort of travel agency I get the feeling they are not comfortably upper class, but in the process of climbing. Thus they host students like me and it seems to be working as the girls attend a private catholic school and they live in a place that requires 4 keys to enter. We live right on la Ave 6 de Deciembre and this means there is traffic all time (a fun change from the Chippewa or Morris).
General things about Ecuador- when greeting those you are familiar with it is expected that you touch cheeks and make a kissing noise. The drivers here yield to no one and there is a place called Griegolanda, where all griegos (white people) are expected to go at least once. Altitude takes adjusting to, as I discovered after 20min of soccer. While on health issues, I also got sunburned during that soccer game, so sunscreen is going in my purse now. The tap water is not safe to drink, but my family has a charming filter in the shape of an apple (I don't understand how apples and clean water go together) and I can brush my teeth in it. So far the food here is very good in taste and health, with lots of soup and fruit. The most common noise in Quito is car alarms and I don´t think it´s because they are all being broken into as I hear them everywhere! Finally, time moves MUCH slower here. Which is good, as soooo many things fit in each day, but I'm still adjusting... accidently said good night to my family at 9pm tonight because it felt later (normal bedtime is 9:30 or 10). Rather embarrassing as by the time I checked my watch it was too late to undo the ritual I had completed, but that's why I have time to write this post.
Sorry this is so long, but I think I should put stuff down now while I have the drive and the time.