I have officially been in Quito for just under 24 hours. Yesterday was a day of last minute errands and bittersweet goodbyes. Sofia came over to my parent's house at about 12:30 p.m. Mom treated us to one last batch of her "famous" grilled cheese sandwiches that I love so much then we were off to the airport. The plane took off on time at 3:35 p.m. and the 4-hour flight was pretty pleasant. I'm not 100% comfortable with flying, but I'll admit it wasn't all that bad. The flight was smooth the entire way and I didn't have anyone sitting directly beside me. Apparently, American Airlines has some partnership with CBS so I watched "How I Met Your Mother", "The Late Show with David Letterman" and some clips of other CBS TV that I normally don't tune in for. Once Fantastic 4 started, I opted for my iPod and my copy of Eat, Pray, Love.
We actually landed at Mariscal Sucre Airport 15 minutes early. As soon as I walked off the plane, I saw Ronnie waiting at the end of the tunnel. I was so happy to see him! It was so great to finally be back with him, even if it is far from home. Going through Customs and Immigration was a breeze, much easier than I had expected. Once we were outside I was greeted with a pleasant burst of cool air. It was about 54 degrees and rainy. Besides the rain, I loved the weather! It was already dark when we landed so the drive home didn't offer much to look at besides the buildings with huge advertisements on the sides of them. The streets were windy and bumpy and the other people on the road drove like they were the only ones there. At each stop light a group of 2-4 kids would walk out in front of the cars to juggle, dance, beg for money. Some were actually pretty talented!
The drive home was only bout 15 minutes. We stepped off the elevator on our floor and there was a huge "Welcome to Quito" banner from Ronnie. It was very sweet. He then unlocked our front door and picked me up to carry his bride over the threshold. :) He gave me the grand tour of our BEAUTIFUL apartment... it really is amazing! In the dining room was a vase filled with gorgeous flowers--purple and ivory, because they were the colors in our wedding--and scattered throughout the place were more"Welcome to Quito" signs.
After the tour we walked next door for dinner. There is a really cute, but trendy, Chinese restaurant called China Bistro. It was a very nice place with great service and how can you beat Chinese food directly next door to your building?? The strange thing was as we were sitting in the Chinese restaurant, in Ecuador, we were listening to The Beatles play from the speakers in the ceiling. It was all just an odd combination, but enjoyable nonetheless. The food was pretty good and we had some leftovers "para llevar".
I was happy that I had not really suffered from any altitude sickness, thus far. I had a mild headache, but nothing major. I slept well last night, however, beginning at about 2 a.m., I woke up just about every hour, which, I have now learned is common because of the altitude. After tossing and turning for the next few hours I finally realized that I should just get up...at 7 a.m.! Ronnie also woke up and took me to the window so I could now see the view of Pinchincha during the day. The view was remarkable, but because of some low cloud coverage, I couldn't see the peaks of the mountains. Ronnie made us some amazing pancakes and we ate breakfast looking out onto the city. It is so pretty!
After breakfast we drove over to get some groceries at SuperMaxi. It was a very nice grocery store that had much of the same offerings as any Publix...although I could definitely tell it wasn't the same. I wasn't really in the mood to shop, I just wanted to browse each and every aisle so I knew what I would be working with for the next 3 years. We filled our cart with Gatorade, Fruity Pebbles, Kraft Mac N Cheese, bread, tuna and Pepperidge Farm cookies...and I don't think we stood out as Americans at all...ha! Once we were home, Ronnie frantically looked for the UM v. Ga Tech football game on TV, but the only thing playing on ESPN was futbol (soccer). He was not happy! We decided to head to the mall. After trying to navigate our way to Quicentro and realizing that there was actually a home game being played (the stadium is across the street from the mall) we opted for the other mall, El Jardin, instead. The mall was very nice with 3 floors and lots of shopping options. There were some stores that I recognized the names of and others were new to me. Ronnie was very happy when I pointed out a Taco Bell...the first one he's seen since he's been here. Some other dining options were KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, and Pizza Hut. And to top it all off Dave Matthews Band was being piped through the speakers in the mall. It felt like home...sort of.
So, that's been my first 24 hours in a nutshell. Tonight we are going to dinner with some of his friends from work. Everyone I have met so far has been extremely friendly and I'm sure once I get more comfortable this place won't be so bad.