I arrived in Quito a few days ago. I’m living with a family (well, a 65 year old woman, her 35 year old son, and her very happy dog, who sleeps in the same bed as her!), and I’m taking Spanish lessons everyday for 3 weeks. It costs $9/day to stay with the family, including food and a laundry service, and $6/hour for one-on-one tuition for Spanish lessons. I can’t imagine how expensive this would be in England. The Spanish lessons are definitely needed, as no one speaks English here, I can’t understand Spanish, and all I can do is say, “¡lo siento, soy inglés!”

Quito street vendorsI love noticing the differences here compared to home or the US. Not the little changes I have to make myself, like using bottled water to brush my teeth and putting toilet paper in a bin, but the differences in the streets. The people enthusiastically selling everything from fruit to CD-writing pens on the buses and streets, shouting endlessly in rapid Spanish; the bus drivers’ friends who literally hang off the buses as they’re speeding down the streets, trying to get more people onboard; the kids performing circus acts at red lights trying to make a few cents; the live music in bars, in the streets, and sometimes on the buses; the taxi drivers who stop for no one, even on zebra crossings; the view of mountains from anywhere in Quito; the security guards who protect every shop and building, all equipped with guns and bullets on their belts; and the near-weekly protests in the streets against increasing bus prices, student fees and the ‘free trade agreement’ with the US, which are always broken up with tear gas released by the police.

Yesterday, Meghan’s host family took us to their fungus farm in the countryside. We helped pick and package mushrooms ready to take them to the supermarket. Now I know why you must always wash fruit & vegetables before eating them! There was a little girl on the farm, teaching us how to say the different animals surrounding us on the farm. There were pigs, chickens, dogs, hens, and most farmyard animals. The girl thought it was so funny that her Spanish was better than ours. I just found it funny watching dogs understand Spanish.