Facing fears in old town

As we prepare for the holidays, my work schedule has slowed down and life is a bit less hectic. Most people think just the opposite about holidays, but without family and my best friends to see, the holidays are actually quiet calming. For those of you who saw my post on Facebook, I had an interview at the UN Refugee Agency, which was a tremendous experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the position, I think they were looking for someone fully fluent in Spanish and with a law background, but it was still a positive experience and moving forward I can fully focus on my teaching job at EF, which I love. A couple of highlights since my last post:

- Trying to engage a group of serious businessmen about fashion and current styles (the topic for our last unit).

- Substituting for a private class with the cutest 7 year old girl, Daniela:
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The thought of teaching to a whole group of kids really intimidates me (thankfully, I usually teach adults) but Daniela was the absolute cutest; she’s making me rethink my classes. Maaayyybe I will teach children in the future.

Another recent Quito highlight was visiting the Centro Histórico last weekend. Quito is progressively more dangerous moving from north to south so I was fully prepared to be robbed (I have read way too many travel blogs on this subject), but strangely the only harm done to me was a shocking pinch from a lady exiting the Ecovia (subway) as I was entering. Still not really sure why that happened. However, the Centro Histórico is a whole other world from north Quito. The crowds are buzzing and lively and people put in so much effort to sell goods on the street to passersby. I visited many magnificent churches and museums, including the old Central Bank building, where there is now a museum in the basement, including stacks of sucres in the old vault (sucre was the money before they adopted the dollar in the early 2000s). I went to the highly talked about La Ronda, an old alleyway that has been restored and saved from dodginess. I visited during the day but I hear it is much more lively during the night:
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I also visited the Basilica, which might just be one of my favorite places in Quito.
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Because safety standards are a lot lower out of the US, I was able to climb up some extremely sketchy stairs to the top of one tower, and up another set to the top of the clock tower.

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The clock tower behind me on the left is the one that I eventually climbed up. It was neat to see the pendulum and inner workings of the tower, although the level with the bells was sadly off-limits.

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I also experienced a little culinary immersion in old town and ate at Cafetería Modelo, a place that has been around since the 50s and serves up one of Ecuador’s famous dishes: seco de chivo (goat stew). I had read about this place but forgot to write down the address so I was surprised when I stumbled upon it near the Basilica. Well worth it:

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Okay, so that plate doesn’t look extremely appetizing but I can assure you that the meal and restaurant lived up to the hype. This upcoming week I think I will put traditional Ecuadorian foods on hold and make some eggnog and holiday cookies to get in the Christmas spirit. Does anyone have any favorite family recipes that they would like to share with me?

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One comment

  1. Feliz Navidad, Ali! We think of you often and are loving your adventure. Daniela’s smile is infectious — so-o cute.

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