The biggest stressor in my life for the past few weeks surprisingly was not my big trip to Ecuador. I do not mind planes and packing was a breeze. It was the next step that scared me. I had no idea where I would live once I arrived in Quito.
If you know me, you know that I am incredibly Type A. I make very thorough lists and I love to plan things. Not knowing my next move with certainty gives me a literal rash. As my Dad explained, the difference between my sister and I is that while packing I will have ziplock bags with outfits for each day prepared a week ahead of time, whereas my sister will run around the house throwing wet laundry into her suitcase the morning we leave.
As you can imagine, coming to Ecuador with no plan was terrifying for me. I knew that I would somehow miraculously find a place to live, I would learn the area, and figure out what I am teaching. But the logistics from stepping off the plane to finally entering the comfort zone were not apparent. Instead, I would rely on luck, God’s grace, and the friendly nature of those already in Quito.
Living out of a suitcase for nearly a week was stressful. Changing hostels because we were kept up all night with the doorbell was stressful. Eating every meal out because there was no refrigerator was stressful. Apartment listings in Ecuador are not posted online at all, so my pre-arrival searches came up empty. We had a hard time adjusting to the altitude, and were winded on even small walks. I had never signed a lease or looked for an apartment in the States, how was I supposed to do it in Ecuador? This was a big, scary new city and for the first time I couldn’t rely on anyone else to figure it out for me.
But, life is not all curveballs. A new friend Grace showed us to area. She walked us to the school, gave us advice about classes, and even introduced us to someone who lived in a building in which there was an apartment vacancy. Without Grace’s selfless help I probably would have been on a plane back to Michigan.
As it turns out, we were able to sign a lease in a building that a few other teachers live in by the end of the week and move in. For $225 each a month we are renting a new (only 2 years old) two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment that is fully furnished, with utilities included. Yes, Internet, water, gas, and everything else is included. Shower curtains, towels, bedding, cups, silverware, chairs, TV, DVD player, pots and pans are all also included. The building requires about five keys between the gate to our room, so it is very safe. In short, this is our dream apartment, and the best part is that it is only three blocks from school.
This was a huge lesson for me in Ecuador time. Nothing around here moves quickly. The entire country shuts down on Sundays. There isn’t a need to plan too far ahead, and if you do, I was told to prepare for all of my plans to hit serious roadblocks. Showing up to a new city without an apartment seemed totally normal. If I had over-planned I never would have found this amazing apartment.
So, here’s to loosening the tie, practicing the Spanish, and diving right in to a 10-month lease in Quito.