(May 31 – written by Dave)
Greetings from Quito and our week of immersion Spanish. We are not fluent in Spanish, nor are we effluent (but that’s a whole different story). But we have actually learned a lot in the first four days of class. Tomorrow we’ll have our last session and start getting ready for our departure on Sunday. The trick for the next six months is to be a little more disciplined and actually get out our notes and study.
We have been studying at the Simon Bolivar School of Spanish. They run a very professional school and we have a great teacher – Mariana. There are actually quite a few Spanish schools here and also in many of the larger cities in Latin America. It is very difficult to know which one to pick. We felt like we lucked out with our school in La Paz, Baja – they had professional administrative staff and good teachers. We scored again with Simon Bolivar on both counts.
If anyone asks, we’d probably pick Quito and Simon Bolivar over La Paz. It helps that school is about ½ the cost and here they have smaller classes sizes 1 on 2, or 1 on 1. We appreciated the individual attention even though I can’t remember words all too often (Nancy always remembers more than me!). While those points are important, we’d pick here mostly because Quito is such a nice city. It is pretty clean, has great cafes and restaurants and there are lots of things to do. La Paz is nice but perhaps a little sleepy and other than fantastic fish tacos, the food is less exciting.
We of course stopped in La Paz because it came early in our time in Latin America and we needed to know more that “Mi nombre es David/Nancy….”. So we certainly have no regrets. However, if you are looking for a place to spend a few weeks and do immersion Spanish – consider looking at Quito and Simon Bolivar.
We found a great AirB&B in the La Floresta neighbourhood – pretty close to where we were with Nancy’s sisters. Our new place isn’t quite as nice but the view is great. We are clearly getting near the end of the wet season here – the sun and clouds spend all day fighting each other to see who’s going to dominate at any given moment. We rose today to the most amazing blue skies and one single cloud (see photo). This afternoon, the clouds managed to gang up on the sun – the second photo is taken only 10 hours after the first.
When we leave here on Sunday we will ride a few days in an area known for distant snow covered volcanos. A few cyclists ahead of us got nothing but fog and clouds. We are hoping that our week of Spanish has given the dry season enough time to get started – for both dry roads and volcano views. We will leave on Sunday, the day they close the roads for bicycles. We’ll get something close to 25k of closed roads to start our ride. We tried out our newly cleaned and adjusted bikes last Sunday. It was really fun being out with so many locals on bikes. You have to be on your toes but the danger of a 6 year old jumping the curb on their BMX bike is always going to be less danger than dodging cars on open roads.
We’ve been focused during the week on Spanish but still managed a few photos of Quito. And of course we had to eat which always means food photos. I’ll include a few photos here for historical purposes. We have been trying to take advantage of access to great restaurants here in Quito to get our fill of good fresh food – and we’ve been pretty successful at that.