After viewing the inside, we happened upon a folkloric festival outside, where people dressed in traditional costumes danced in a pattern, holding some kind of ribbon, to the music of trumpets and trombones.
Later that afternoon we went to a place called El Panecillo, which is a large hill in the middle of Quito, separating and providing a magnificent view of the North (more affluent) and South (poorer) parts of the city. A statue of a virgin, made entirely of aluminum pieces, rises up on this hill, interestingly facing the North, with her back to the South. From here I caught an initial peek of Cotopaxi, mostly hidden behind clouds.
On Sunday after church, my wonderful hosts Sara and Dakin took me to La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world) i.e. the Equator! The drive from Quito is only about an hour north. Strange as it seems, the tourist spot where everyone goes to take pictures of the "equatorial line" is not really the correct line. It was measured in the 1700's (before satellite), so we know now that it was about 200 meters off. Nevertheless, people come from all over the world to see and to plant one foot in the south and the other in the north hemisphere. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera this day. :(
Monday I had the opportunity to go with a local pastor to Pastocalles, a community near the one where I will be working, Romerillos. We went to attend the first day of school presentation at the escuela in Pastocalles, which is affiliated with the Methodist Church but run by the government. The kids looked adorable in their uniforms, reciting a phrase in quechua, one of the local indigenous languages, and singing the national anthem. Afterwards, the pastor talked to me about helping teach an English class there once a week; I told him I would love to!
The rest of this week has been filled with various preparations for my next two months here in Quito. I signed up for Spanish classes 3-4 days a week, set up some things in my future apartment, and started studying a map to figure out where things are in the city. Today I went to immigration to make my visa "official", since what I got in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the U.S. is only good for 30 days. Even though these errands don't necessarily take all day long, at the end of every day I feel completely exhausted and overwhelmed. Maybe it's being new to the city, maybe it's trying to express myself in a second language, maybe it's the stress of not yet knowing the ropes of how to live in this culture. Or maybe, most likely, it's all of these combined. I am learning to take things paso a paso, step by step.