Today started with a little breakfast at the hotel. Eating was optional, but not what you ate. A server brought juice, jam and bread to the table, followed by a hard-boiled egg. If you were looking for something else, then you need to go somewhere else.
Orientation started promptly at 9 am. As soon as we sat down we received a 10 page Spanish test that we had an hour to take. There was some multiple choice, fill in the blank and an essay. Fortunately, it was just a placement test for when we start Spanish classes next week.
The Spanish test was followed by a safety talk from a Special Agent from the U.S. Embassy. It was enlightening to say the least. Ecuador’s crime rating is critical. A fun little statistic he was nice enough to share was that 90% of students visiting the country get robbed. The good news is that after these safety seminars started that number dropped by 70%. Or at least I am telling myself this is good news.
We finally got to leave the hotel for lunch. We were broken into groups based on the area of the country we will be living. Then we walked a few blocks to a little restaurant where everyone was served the same thing; soup, chicken, rice, and pasta salad. We talked about the Intag region where we will be staying. As we were leaving there was a man playing the guitar and singing America’s Horse with No Name in Spanish. It was great.
In the afternoon, we covered more on “Surviving in Ecuador.” There were personal stories and stories of past volunteers to supplement the lengthy handout. I know they are trying to make sure we understand what we will face and how to best protect ourselves, but I am seriously wondering what I have gotten into.