Quito is the capital of Ecuador and sits at almost 10,000 feet above sea level. It was so strange flying in as we are used to seeing cities situated in valleys with mountains rising around them. Quito however sits on what looks like the sawed off tops of mountains with deep crevices separating the different parts of the city. We were warned our lungs would take a few days to adjust to the altitude, and mine definitely did.
We arranged before we left home to hook up with the Quito Iglesia de Christo (Church of Christ) and the EQEB (Escuela Quitena de Estudios Biblicos) to meet some fellow Christians, learn about the work they do there and hopefully help out a bit. We weren’t sure though quite exactly what to expect. It turned out to absolutely exceed all of our expectations. Our contact Kent Marcum was in the states while we were here, but made thorough arrangements for us. For starters the hotel he reserved for us was super nice - two large rooms with a connecting door and large corner windows with an inspiring view of the mountains. Then the staff at the school (thank you Joshua and Byron) were so welcoming. Our assignment turned out to be painting the exterior wall and fence of the lovely colonial style building that belongs to the school. That was a bit intimidating as it is a very pretty building and I certainly didn’t want to be responsible for messing it up! Luckily we have Mark who knows his way around a paintbrush. He quickly took charge, and Wilder, Peyton and I just did what he told us. In the end we were tired and sore and proud of our work. We also enjoyed meeting many of the students of the school and members of the church and learning about all of the work they do there.
In our free time in Quito we caught up on our internet work (school for kids and travel planning for me), toured the President’s Palace and Quito’s Cathedral and also scaled the very impressive Basilica (the kids said it was more fun than a Disneyland ride – I wussed out and waited where the stairs turned into what looked like scaffolding). We also ate some good meals and continued Peyton’s tour of around the world ice cream. We have figured out that food has become a big focus of each and every day. We spend a lot of time figuring out where we will get it and trying to make sure it doesn’t cost too much. Then it turns out that whether or not we like it can really affect our mood. I think that between our activity level and the relative scarcity of food we are keen to eat, we have definitely already lost a few pounds (so for those of you betting – you now know who is ahead). This of course is not at all unwelcome!
On the last day, before we caught our flight out to Madrid, we attended services with the congregation at Quito. Much to the embarrassment of the kids, I found myself getting teary eyed during the song service. Something about 500 Ecuadorians singing hymns I’ve known since childhood translated into Spanish and in enthusiastic acapella unison just filled my soul to overflowing. I tried to explain later to the kids how that will invariably result in water leaking from my eyes, but somehow I don’t think they got it. I will just have to hope that something on this trip will affect them similarly, even if the evidence isn’t quite so visible.
We are headed now for Madrid, Spain. We’ve made a reservation at an apartment in the heart of the city for the first three days. After which we hope to book train tickets to Portugal before catching our flight on August 30th to Morocco. In the meantime however we are NOT looking forward to the 12 plus hour trip in coach seats!
Thank you so much for all of the emails and comments on Facebook. We are so happy to hear any news of home, and your encouragement makes all the difference. I think I can report that we have finally got our trip legs and are looking forward to whatever comes next.