August 04, 2003

Disappearing from London

Soooo... having finished my MSc Economics at LSE, and with four months off (!) before starting work at the Bank of England (aka. BoE, the Bank) and thus stepping into the real world, I decided to take the rare opportunity of disappearing from London for 9 weeks. What did I do? I threw myself in the deep end and bought a ticket to Quito, Ecuador, with a return from Santiago, Chile. At the time, I had not the slightest idea of what I was getting myself into, nor what I was really going to do in South America.

Little by little the pieces started falling into place, and hungry for learning I decided to pick up the fragments left of my Spanish knowledge and really have a go at learning the language. So I enrolled in a Spanish school in Quito called "Amazonas". A colleague of my dad's, Gustavo, is working in Quito, and upon hearing that I was heading to Ecuador to study Spanish my dad incisted on getting in touch with Gustavo. The response was overwhelming.. I was hoping he could help me with advice and maybe help me sort out where to stay, but instead I was offered a golden deal: accommodation, sightseeing, travelling, and meals.. all for free!

I left London about two weeks ago, worn down from a hectic week of visiting family, graduation ceremony and one hell of a moving process (those of you who saw my room at Holborn understand). The whole thing climaxed on the morning of my flight, when Heathrow was in full chaos as a result of the unsolicited strikes by the check-in personnel. I though the three hours I reserved for the airport was generous, but in the end I had to run for the gate. I can't describe in words the feeling when I sat myself down in the plane.

Upon arriving in Quito I was met at the airport by Gustavo, a well fed man with a big beard. He and his wife, Elisabeth, are adorable people. They've got three children, two of who live in France, and a son, Juan, who lives at home. He's a seventeen year old metal head, and great fun to hang out with. The family is actually Colombian, but they've lived in Quito for the past two years. Their house is situated in one of the nicest parts of Quito on a hill side with a great view across the city through huge panorama windows.

In addition, the family also has a niece, Monica, living with them at the moment. She works as an Oracle programmer for a web portal in Quito. She's very cool and we get along great. Last but not least, they also employ a full time maid(!). Forget having to make your own bed, prepare breakfast, do laundry.. everything is taken care of! I'll definitely hire a maid as soon as I can afford it.. probably costs a fortune in London, but here it's not more than $150 a month(!).

The morning after I arrived I headed straight to my school, and, without wasting any time what-so-ever, I began my quest of learning to speak Spanish. I'm studying for approximately three weeks and I'm on a seven hours a day schedule. It's really a little too much, and I'm quite knackered at the end of the day, but at least I'm learning a lot. The school is very well run, and the teachers (you have a new teacher every week) are great. They make it a pleasure to learn the language. Having said that, the only way of really learning the language is to be forced to use it.. and here you definitely are.

Posted by markus at August 4, 2003 06:34 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?