Getting a bit more aclimatized -
Quito, June 11th 2002
Hope you have as good time as I'm having in Quito!

I did find a good language school and was lucky to get a good teacher. That she is a very cute girl don't make things worse either. I have also found an Ecuadorian family who I live with, and they are great fun. They are all a good laugh and the food is great. We speak a lot of Spanish which means they speak heaps, I speak some and I understand most of it. Don't know if my Spanish have improved a lot but I hope it'll get better soon. The problem is that you spend a lot of time with other travellers and the common language is always English.

Quito is an okay city. It's not beautiful but it's a good place for meeting people, learning Spanish and using as a base for travelling to other places. It doesn't mean here's nothing to see. It seems to be a not very safe city and the traffic is "loco". They drive like criminals here and I was lucky not to get run over the other day by a motorbike. Speeding is the way of driving and signs are more for decoration than anything else. When I went to Otavalo the other day we had some really close calls with the bus and we overtook a cop while passing a "No overtaking" sign. If you're not allowed to bring your pig on the bus you just put it in a sack and bring it along.

Otavalo was a very interesting place with a great Saturday market. Lots of people, many natives, were selling everything from mats with the American flag, to snails or potatoes with fried blood. Especially the women were wearing beautiful clothing and I got some great pictures.

Despite getting a bit of sunstroke in Otavalo due to forgetting my hat, I and a Swiss guy went the next day to Mitad del Mundo - the middle of the world. It's a monument at the Equator which really wasn't very interesting on it's own but it's supposed to be surrounded by loads of interesting museums. But since we got there very early they hadn't opened yet. We got a ride to an ancient volcano crater instead which was just beautiful. We climbed down the slopes down to the valley 350m below. After walking through the valley we got the great idea to try to find another way out so we climbed different road for an hour and a half, doing an ascent of maybe 400m. We met a jeep whose driver told us we probably had another two hours to the closest city. Since we were out of water at the time we found it very pleasant to hitchhike, in the back of the truck, back to the valley of the volcano. We were pretty exhausted after climbing to the top again and had a very relaxed afternoon recovering some hardcore exercise. I couldn't have done this a couple of days earlier since it takes a while to get used to the high altitude. The first day I got exhausted climbing the stairs to my room in the hostel. The landscape with the high mountains, the rainforest-like nature on the slopes and the green valley were really something special.

Today I got a private Salsa class with my Spanish teacher after school. I also learnt some Salsa last week when I went out with some people from the Spanish school and some. Since I love dancing, Salsa was great fun. Better be a good boy now, returning to my family doing my homework for tomorrow.

Love Emil