Learning Spanish at the Spanish School in Quito, Ecuador – Quito blog by Sonia Fullerton
Arriving in Quito after travelling for over 16 hours, it’s fair to say my ability to string a sentence together with limited Spanish was poor. I tried to make small-talk with my taxi driver, saying something about the car (coche) only for him to burst out laughing – turns out in South America, car is ‘carro‘ (coche is pram/trolley). I really hoped my coming week at school would help with this!
The second local revelation came when I arrived at my host’s house. It was in a small block and I helped the porter carry my backpack up the two flights of stairs, going at my normal London pace. I had barely said hello to the lovely Ana Maria when I thought I was going faint. I had no idea what was happening to me – my heart was beating like it wanted to come out and I was so dizzy! Turns out it was the altitude – Quito is 2800m high! I was given a good dinner and lots of water after which I felt much better but top tip: keep physical exertion to a minimum for the first few days while you acclimatise, and drink lots of water!!
The next day the local co-ordinator from the Spanish school came to see me in the morning and gave me some maps of the city and we went off to explore the local area. He showed me where the main roads and bus stops were and how to get to the school, so that by the time I set off for my lesson in the afternoon I felt I knew the area.
My teacher was really friendly and would not speak in English in order to encourage me to practice my Spanish. We went through lots of topics in the workbook provided by the school (I always had a bit of homework every day!) so that by the end of the week I felt quite confident speaking in Spanish!
There was another girl studying at the same time as me so in the mornings we would go and visit different things the beautiful colonial Old Town, the modern district with the very nice Quicentro mall or, on the weekend the Equator line! This is a must visit if but for the great photo ops, though my favourite thing we did was take the Teleferiqo a cable car that takes you up the mountain thats on one side of Quito – the view and landscape from 4100m high is incredible!
Quito is very hot during the day, contrary to what your forecast may say. Equatorial sun + high altitude = sunburn. Especially on your scalp. To give you an idea, they sell SPF 100 suncream here. Trust me, it is best to buy the ugly hat than suffer! However, it often does pour down around 4/5pm, and once the sun goes down it can get chilly so keep a jacket with you if you wont be back until the evening!
Unfortunately my short week here was soon over, and it was time to start my Galápagos adventure. There was quite a bit to prepare for this but the local coordinator gave me all the info I needed so I felt very prepared!
If you would like to know more about attending Spanish School in Quito and volunteering in one of our many projects Spanish speaking projects in Ecuador and on the Galapagos, check out our website on www.volunteervacations.co.uk, drop us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a ring on 01483 331551 or 07833 208 158 or 01483 203405.