So originally I wanted to write this blog post last night, about arriving in Ecuador and things I contemplated on my first day, but I was stricken with a combination of ailments. For one thing, Quito is the second-highest national capital in the world, and it's expected that someone coming from the lowlands of Williamsburg and Washington might have a bit of a time adjusting to the altitude. Secondly, while in Ecuador I am trying to give up my personal vice of drinking soda, and I found the caffeine withdrawal last night to be a bit fierce. Thirdly, my recent great propensity toward motion sickness threw me under the bus after my car tour around the neighborhood, and won't bode well for this city of stick-shift cars and meaningless traffic rules. Luckily, I have quite the pharmaceutical arsenal with me (since during previous South American trips my interactions with over-the-counter drugs went something like me saying to a pharmacist in Spanish that I needed something for nausea or a cold, and them handing me a pack of nondescript white pills) and I am feeling much better today. That might be thanks in part to the coffee machine at the office.
Anyway, after leaving my house at 3:30 on Saturday morning to catch my flight from Reagan airport, spending a 6-hour layover in Miami, and arriving at my hotel around 7pm, I was ready to crash and burn - and I did. Took a shower and hopped right in bed. I'm staying for now in the Hotel Dann Carlton, which was recommended to me by our hotelier family friend in Guayaquil. It also happens to be in a good part of town and right down the block from my office. I did the same thing last year - stayed in a hotel until I could find a good place to live. I find that hotels can have great resources and service for someone just arriving in the city with no contacts, and the security helps my dad sleep a little better at night.
I hung around the hotel for most of Sunday as well, as here in Latin America nearly nothing is open at all on Sundays. I did get in contact with the family of a friend of a friend, who rent out a room in an apartment nearby. They offered me a bedroom in the apartment, as well as meals, for a reasonable price. But as it is best to shop around, I'm continuing to look around for other options and prices. The mother of the family kindly picked me up from the hotel, drove me to her apartment to show me the living space, and then drove me around the neighborhood a bit to figure out where my office is and so I can situate myself.
One of the things I'm struggling with figuring out at the moment is what kind of living experience I would like. I've lived alone in Williamsburg for the past two years, so I am pretty accustomed to privacy and my own space. I also lived alone in Argentina last year and there were definitely some advantages. At the same time, it would be nice to live with a family or roomates who could teach me some things about Ecuador. But maybe those are things I could learn from co-workers and friends? Decisions.
In other lifestyle notes, I dropped by a gym today after work that is right up the block from the office. They offer weekday classes at 6pm that include such curiously named programs as "Samurai Fit," "Dance Therapy" (to include Reggaeton, Merengue, Salsa, Lambada, Bombas, Zamba, Cumbia, Bachata, and Mapale!), and the most curiously named of all, simply "Gap." I enjoyed the pilates classes I took in Argentina last year, so I think what the hey, I'm probably up for some Samurai Fit.
Right now finding a solid place to live and dragging my luggage there is my greatest concern, and hopefully once that is settled I can work on some more fun projects like convincing the office to tour the Old City with me, or finding someone to go with me to a salsateca (salsa club) I want to try out or to a place called Red Hot Chili Peppers, which my guidebook says has the best frozen margaritas in the city so therefore it is a must. I also want to plan my side trips - so many places to go! To the Panama Hat factory and centuries-old sites in Cuenca! To the market at Otavalo! To the hot springs that are somewhere south of the city! And hopefully on my big trip to Peru.
But let me get on with it, and write you a blog about all the small surprises on my first day of work.
See below: a picture of my room / safe haven at the Hotel Dann Carlton: