Equator Gringos

August 4, 2007

Luke and Joy Arrive in Quito!

Filed under: Ecuador, expat, South America, teaching overseas — lstollin @ 11:13 pm

Thursday (August 2nd) we moved out of the humid but oh-so-cozy cocoon of Austin, Texas and flew to Quito. Almost no air conditioning on the plane, but really friendly flight attendants including one named Inca if you can believe that. Half the plane burst into applause once we had landed and were taxiing, a Latin American tradition which I think is a nice way to express thanks to the pilots, though it comes across to the uninitiated as “I’m so stoked! I can’t believe we’re still alive!”

At the airport our cast of characters were:

  • Andrea – our dear friend who we know from Austin grad school and subsequent visits in various places.
  • Patricia – the logistics expert from the school where I’ll be working (Academia Cotopaxi – get used to me calling it “the Cotopaxi”) with whom we’ve been corresponding since March.
  • Dr. Bill Johnston – the director of the school; the guy who hired me.
  • Marco – a driver for the school, there to transport us and our stuff to the hotel and the next day to our house, and thence to do errands.

It was quite flattering to have all these people interested in our arrival. Patricia was clearly in charge, and the picture of control and efficiency. She checked our passports as soon as we met and found out that indeed, as sometimes happens, I’d been stamped with the wrong visa (12-III instead of 12-VIII) a mistake which in fact granted me diplomatic status!  I was just beginning to relish my newfound prestige when Patricia put the kibosh on such foolishness, marching me back to the visa lady and making her change it (though she would only change it in pencil…). Time will tell how this plays out and whether I can actually schmooze with the Presidente de la Republica, or more importantly, park anywhere I want and never get a ticket.

Andrea had planned for us to spend the night with her and her husband Keith and their daughter Emilia, but Patricia had arranged a hotel for us, so that’s where we went. Before leaving the airport, I congratulated Dr. Johnston on the great welcome and great planning, and he responded with something that sounded nice but ended with a zinger: “We try to make the transition really smooth and easy, because we know later you’re going to be working your ass off.” I’m still mulling over the message behind the message on that one.

So we spent our first night at the Hotel Walther (I’m still trying to decide if that’s a typo or not).  I’ll leave you for now with an important excerpt posted in our hotel room about using the microwave (this was rule number 9 out of 10): “Finally, ALWAYS leave a glass of water in the oven to prevent accidents.” Now, people used to scoff at those who said lead paint was dangerous, or that children should have special car seats, but time has proven that caution wins the day. Now that we’ve been informed of this important safety tip, nay, safety requirement, we’ve no excuse but to comply.

Curious about rule number 10, when rule number 9 says, “finally”?  Curious about the potential consequences for not following the 10 rules?  Send me a comment and perhaps I’ll let you know.



  1. Luke,
    This is a blast from the past!!! Thanks for including me on the e-mail advertising your blog. Congrats on your successful (so far) move to Ecuador. And you thought it was hot in TX!! Good luck.

    Comment by Joe Winslow — August 5, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

  2. Hey, I just found out about the blog! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures, and it appears that the blog entries will be more entertaining that most of what is on tv. Hmmm, maybe when it is all over, you can publish it!

    Comment by Courtney Hudson — August 6, 2007 @ 9:52 am

  3. Wow! I’m so glad you’ve got the blog up and running, and hope WordPress is working out for you – Bruce just sent me the link this morning – am looking forward to reading more of your adventures!

    Leigh Anne
    (Bruce’s friend from Pgh)

    Comment by Leigh Anne — August 6, 2007 @ 10:02 am

  4. Hi Luke,
    Thanks for blogging. Great to hear your perspective into all that’s going on in a place I haven’t been to Yet. Of course, I’m v. curious about #10. I love those little linguistic twists as in Finally…. for #9.

    You must be in your apartment by now. Happy adventures as you try to find all the gadgets and supplies that are never where or how you would find them in the states, a nice reminder that there are several ways to get things done and a good way to get to know your new home and country. I’ve gone looking for hardware in Spain and personal products in Mexico. Both times, enjoying the scavenger hunt, being sent from one store to another, trying to explain what you are looking for, meeting confused looks, and receiving friendly helpful advice that lands you in another store trying to explain what you are looking for!

    best to you and J.,

    Comment by Alex Garcia — August 6, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

  5. Hi Luke & Joy,
    Thanks for sharing your blog. I enjoyed reading of your last few days in Austin (feelings I can relate too) and your arrival. Keep us informed. Enjoy your free time before work begins.

    Comment by Robin — August 6, 2007 @ 11:20 pm

  6. Bienvenidos al sur!
    Espero que Ecuador los trate bien y disfruten los volcanes, los valles, las playas y la gente….que es lo mejor que tenemos en el sur!
    Mucha suerte en su estadía. Estaré leyendo este blog para estar al tanto.
    Abrazos andinos,

    Mónica y Wanderley

    Comment by Mónica y Wander — August 7, 2007 @ 9:50 am

  7. Hey Luke and Joy:

    Just you wait for all the mind-bending, logic-defying things Ecuador has to offer. I will be glad to help clue you in if and when you are feeling illiterate…or for that matter just need help with the bureaucracy-the number one challenge when living in Ecuador. Good luck and I look forward to meeting you and sharing some chocolate with you soon.


    Comment by inthetropics — August 7, 2007 @ 1:43 pm

  8. Luke & Joy,
    All the best for both of you in this new adventure!

    Comment by Tom — August 14, 2007 @ 8:14 pm

  9. Hi there. Your adventures make me nostalgic for ILAS days. Enjoy every minute! Hey, Polly and I got our toddlers together for fun at the neighborhood pool yesterday. Thanks for putting us in touch!

    Mary Ann

    Comment by Mary Ann — August 26, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

  10. Hi Luke,

    Joe sent me your blog, and nice to hear about your adventures – I kind of lost you back there in Austin (My fault – I had many computer mishaps that dumped most of my data so often I just went out and bought a Mac!- no problems now. Good luck in your new gut slendering regime!


    Comment by Vance Kemege — August 31, 2007 @ 10:41 pm

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