Latin America

Spanish: Travelling, learning & teaching in Ecuador

One of the places I visited before I moved to Mendoza, Argentina was Quito, Ecuador. I loved Quito. I got a really good vibe from the place as soon as I arrived and lived there for 12 months.

The travel bit

Quito is the capital city of Ecuador and at 9,350ft (2,850m) above sea level it’s the Worlds second highest capital city after La Paz (Boliva). It’s also a UNESCO city the closet capital city to the equator. Today it is densely populated; 1,900 million back in 2003 when I was there the population was closer to 1.400 million [source: macrotrends].

In 1978, UNESCO named Quito one of the first of two World Heritage Cities (the other being Krakow). Quito is the largest and most historically preserved city in all of Latin America’s colonial cities. 

Ecuador, known mainly for Los Galapagos has so much more to offer as a country it’s self and is recognised for it’s efforts towards “sustainable tourism”

Plaza de la Independencia

One of the visit I made outside of the city was to the beautiful La Laguna Quilotoa, a blue-green volcanic crater lake, sits in the rugged Andean countryside south of Quito. As with all my travelling back then we took the local bus and stayed in a local house. Back in 2003 there weren’t as many facilities as there are today – it was very basic.

La Laguna Quiloto

Laguna Quiloto is one of 47 volcanoes located across Ecuador. The most well known is Cotopaxi, not the highest volcano in the country but one of the most active; it’s erupted 50 times in the last 300 years, which actually makes it one of the most active volcanoes in the World. The closest I got to Cotopaxi was when I stayed at a friends house. It was erupting volcanic ash at the time which destroys the local farmland and causes respiratory problems.


The teaching & learning bit

I got two great teaching jobs in Quito. One in the local Benedicts Institute teaching adults learners and children and the other providing 1:1 in house Spanish lessons for businesses. I loved both jobs.

The great thing about it was the people I met and the friends I made. I also received provision for my own Spanish language-development. Daily 60 minute one-to-one Spanish lessons for the whole time I was there! Can you image, what that kind of support can do for your Spanish.

I was already a couple of years in to my South American adventure when I arrived in Quito and my “street Spanish” (as I call) it was already great – I could converse with people informally no problem at all. Recognise songs in Spanish, understand jokes. I’d taken my PADI Dive Master exam in Spanish and learnt self-defense. Add to that the gazillion hours of conversation practice I’d had talking non-stop to truck drivers who were kind enough to pick us up.

But the lessons I had with Guillerma, my Spanish teacher in Quito well…they we’re something else. They rocketed my Spanish into the next level. She was so much more to me than my Spanish teacher, she was a friend and confident.

I left Ecuador pretty much fluent in Spanish and had picked up some valuable teaching experiences as well as a life-long friendship with Guille.

Guillerma and I

Quito is a city rich in culture and history I would recommend a visit here to anyone exploring South America – it’s also a great place to practise your Spanish too!

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