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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ecuador 1

In the morning, the sun breaks over the mountains and rains down upon an ocean of buildings that would look decrepit in St. Louis, yet somehow here do not. Laundry hangs across their balconies and people swarm up and down the street in cars, on motorcycles, and on foot. The atmosphere is much like you would expect if New York City suddenly adopted a laissez-faire atmosphere about zoning laws, electrical grid layouts and building construction. I am staying with a friend of mine in a (temporarily) vacated room in her apartment, which takes up an entire floor of the building, contains a relatively spacious kitchen, a washer, a dryer, a living room, a dining room, two full bathrooms, two (and a half) bedrooms and is costing each of three roommates 190 dollars per month.

Food here is cheap, and a taxi ride from one end of the city to the other will run you about five bucks, if you're foreign and your driver feels like gypping you. Today, I've been driven all over the city, all day, for a sum total cost of three dollars and change.

Electronics (and anything related to them, including internet) are not cheap here, and I'm told that I could hawk the ancient iPod I brought with me for five hundred if I were so inclined (if I find a buyer, I am so inclined). The “cable” here runs at 256 kbps down, in theory (about a twentieth of what you get in the states), but actually delivers only 33 kbps of that in practice. Combined with cable, it runs them 50 per month, which isn't cheap for what they're getting, but could be worse.

Aqui, con frequencia, otras personas estan aqui que hablan Ingles, pero si que hablas un poco de Espanol, todos las cosas estan mas facil.

My Spanish is, of course, terrible, but it does help that should I need to find out quantos quadras or donde esta Calle Rumipamba, I am not totally fubared.

Mosquitoes are not a problem in Quito. The altitude probably helps. Nonetheless, if you buy anything from a local market intended to be used as clothing or as bedclothes, be sure to wash it before you use it, as arthropods do tend to be a problem here. In the case of blankets, I recommend boiling water and dousing them for a few minutes, just to be sure. Otherwise, the blankets will infest the sheets, and if (like me) you sleep in boxers, the sheets and blanket will infest your boxers which will, in turn, infest your pants. Anything thus made problematic can also be boiled to remove the problematic insects (you go, River Tam). My friend recently made the mistake of not washing a blanket she purchased in the market and we're now facing the prospect of boiling every inch of cloth in the apartment. You live, you learn.

On the whole, though I've been here only a day, I have noticed already that the pace of my existence is both slowing down and speeding up. I spend more time on food than I do at home, and I am more grounded, somehow. Perhaps because of this, this article is not actually going to foray into a philosophical discourse of any kind. I guess that makes it, to my regular readers, a reverse Bel-Aire of sorts, and for that I plead forgiveness. Ma. and I spent much time digesting philosophy today (over some of the best wine I've ever had, which costs three dollars here and comes in a box) and that part of my brain is full, but tired. Overnight it shall digest things, and I suspect tomorrow, or the next day, shall bear fruit in that vein.

For now, goodnight to all.

1 comment:

bathmate said...