If you asked me a year ago, I would have never bet that I’d be spending six months in Ecuador. (With that being said, I’m not a great gambler.) The process seemed to happen so fast. It started with an HR email asking around for people interested working in Quito, and next thing I know it was a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ I’d be going.
The fateful Friday arrives; after almost a week back home in Savannah, GA, I’m heading to the airport to spend six months in Quito, Ecuador. One very delayed flight, another night in Savannah, ten hours in the Atlanta airport and one international fight later, I touch down almost 10K feet in Ecuador late Saturday night. I met my ride as I exited customs, and left for my AirBnB. The ride is over half an hour, but the driver was extremely polite and patient with the Spanish I know. It’s nice to get practice with the language, but I quickly learned that holding a conversation with people isn’t going to be like a Rosetta Stone lesson.
Before I left, I had a couple people ask if I was going to write a blog about my experience. I thought it was a great idea to keep up with friends and family, as well as a personal project of mine that I can look back on. If only I already had a convenient website for people to visit… So, I am glad to announce that the Vic and Stu Podcast Network will also be hosting Vida La Vic. I’ll use this platform to talk about my experiences in Quito and throughout Latin America. In just my first week, I have so many things I want to discuss: sights, interactions with local Ecuadorians, and especially food. In this first one, I’ll focus on the Carolina neighborhood, where I work and stay.
Many of Quito’s sites I’ve seen are in two parts of the city. Old Town is filled with beautiful churches from when the Spanish first came to the country, along with markets and other historic buildings. New Town is a modern part of the city, where much of the business seems to happen. One of the most beautiful parts of New Town is Parque La Carolina, which is the namesake of the nearby neighborhood. The park is filled with people participating in activities of all kinds. I went on a run through the park and found myself constantly stopping to watch street performers, mountain bikers, dog park and pick-up soccer and basketball. The park gives a great view of the Cotopaxi volcano, one of the a few others near Quito. According to Wikipedia, these make Quito the only capital in the world under threat by an active volcano. I spent my first couple days exploring the many cafes and getting a better feel for the area I’d be working in, because although this is easy for me to forget, I still have to work here.
During my first day of work, I found out there was a World Cup Qualifying match between Ecuador and Peru taking place later that day, and that the stadium was a short walk from where I was staying. Talk about luck! I prepped to scalp a ticket and was on my way. I purchased a ticket outside the stadium, and honestly had no idea if I got a deal. My ticket got me in, I think I got to the right seat and match started shortly afterwards. As a sports fan, I knew this was one experience to not take for granted. I’ve heard amazing stories about the atmosphere’s at futbol matches around the world, and had the chance to see a Championship League match in England. World Cup matches are a different beast though, and this did not disappoint. I doubt many people could have attended without joining a “Si se Puede” chant. Unfortunately, Ecuador lost on a couple late goals, although I did learn some new words that will not show up in Rosetta Stone.
In case you’re wondering what I’m doing in Quito, MSL, the PR agency I work for, will partner with agency in Quito for Latin American clients. They needed some assistance with some projects that required an English speaker, so here I am. It will be a great professional experience as well, as I learn how communications works in a different continent. I’ve always loved traveling and am thrilled by the idea of working and living in another country. Although I can’t lie that the feeling of excitement is not coupled with the nervousness that comes with moving to another county. While I did not know much about Ecuador before, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the country recently. I’m look forward to using my time here to develop my Spanish and learn more about Ecuador and other countries in South America. If anyone has any advice, questions or wants to reach out, please feel free to do so. #VidaLaVic