When locals told me that it was almost summer in Quito, I was very skeptical. Since November there hadn’t been that much weather variation so I thought they were lying when they told me the weather was about to change. Okay, so they were right, obviously, because they live here. Summer is HOT. Not really hot in terms of degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius but because we’re on the equator, when the sun comes out it bakes you. Most afternoons when I’m walking from the bus stop to EF (no more than a two minute walk), I feel like the sun is prying into my soul, or at least burning off the first layer of skin. No wonder sunscreen is so expensive here, because of the demand from all of the white expats! Other notably weather changes are less (zero) rain and lots of wind! Cool nights too.
(A terrible rock band performs at a free show in centro historico hosted by Alianza Francesa)
So, what have I been doing so far this summer? Primarily, doing what the locals do which is eating ice cream every afternoon possible. My favorite is the $0.82 tipo casero (homestyle) banana ice cream with a chocolate shell but I’m pretty open to all options. I’ve also been studying a lot for the GMAT, but have decided to wait to take the exam/apply to schools while I gain more work experience. Besides that, there have been a lot of friend gatherings, goodbyes as coworkers move on to bigger and better things, and lessons.
(Fresh shrimp that I proudly deveined and prepared, from my favorite market in La Floresta)
I have started teaching online to ease my transition (financially) back to the States in September. My coworker Gary told me about http://www.italki.com, a site that he will use as his sole source of income come October when he moves to Buenos Aires. Although I signed up almost a month ago, I didn’t get any students until this week, and suddenly I have five. Not sure where they came from but I am happy to take them! So far I like the site a lot, they pay me at the end of each month through PayPal, subtract a reasonable 15% commission and connect student and teacher via Skype.
My first student is from Saudi Arabia, thinks his English is perfect, restates every five minutes that he needs an 85% on an exam that is based on levels, not percentages, also reminds me every five minutes that he needs a friend, not a teacher, and then tells me that I must make him pass his exam. He then goes on to tell me that he will be there for me whenever I need help, until I die and then some. I’m hoping that my frustrations with him are just a learning opportunity about cultural differences. Did I mention he paid for 40 classes in advance? Oh boy. My second student is a brilliant 32 year old from Sao Paulo who does immunology research, specifically on Rabies. She already has a PhD and is incredibly motivated and fascinated by anything and everything. I’m pretty sure she’s also going to cure cancer or AIDS, or both. My other students are from Spain, Reunion Island (near Seychelles), and Guatemala. I’m excited for the opportunity to learn about my students’ cultures and backgrounds and also to hear some different accents.
In my month and a half left in Quito, I will sell my computer and iPhone at Quito market price, which is incredibly more than I would get for either of the products in the US. I feel cruel selling them for so much but the demand is tangible and a student and coworker practically grabbed them out of my hand when I said I was selling. This is of course based on import prices of new electronics, which is also insanely high because we don’t have our own currency here and the government is concerned about the money supply.
And before I forget, I had another visitor! My friend Katie from CU was in Peru with some friends and then came to Quito on her way back to the US. I proudly prepared a fully Ecuadorean meal of encocado de pescado, patacones, arroz y aguacate for the two girls based on a recipe I found from http://www.laylita.com, my favorite Ecuadorean cooking source. Always happy to have friends visiting while abroad and definitely don’t mind the treats they bring along (this time around it was Throat Coat tea, a USB at a fraction of the Ecuadorean price, and some skincare essentials).
Making the most of my time left in Quito but also counting the days until I get to see family and friends – September 10th will come soon!