Of course the first impression of Quito was the warm welcome from 'Fred' - well I think that's what he said his name was - he is the son of Bishop Salamon who is the leader of the Methodist Church in Ecuador. The Bishop offered an equally loving welcome and drove us through deserted streets to our hotel. The architecture in this part of town is concrete and square, with lots of graffitti. Shops were all closed last night apart from a disco/karaoke place - I suggested we visit but I think that was the thin air of 9,000 feet altitude talking!
Our hotel is a 'Howard Johnson' a reliable American chain - lovely room and really helpful staff. The security at the door last night is a mix of reassuring and disconcerting. My room is on the 12th floor and the views across the city to the hills that surround it are fabulous. Today is a rest day and will include a tour to the 'centre of the earth' - the equator. Tomorrow will be a day of more travelling, about three and a half hours to help run a worship workshop and to witness the opening of a new church building. As well as this personal blog, Sandra and I will be uploading reports to the World Church Relationships site - so watch this (and that) space!
As for 'a different world' - well that's not Quito... it is different to the world I know and experience but it is also similar in the human jumble of hope and love and anxiety and noise. What is different for me is that last time I travelled to anywhere near here, was a visit to Cuba in 1991. I wrote a journal - I still have it and love looking back at all the adventures we had. I wrote it with a pen on paper. We had no contact with home, apart from postcards that we sent, everyone had to wait until we landed back home to find out that we were ok, happy and all that had happened. Yesterday I rang Sandy from Miami, my journal is now a blog and I have 'Facetimed' Sandy and Tamsin at home, having a live and visual conversation from my hotel room. I have uploaded the first of what will be many photo's to my Facebook page - this is such a different world from 20 years ago and, if you like communication and immediacy it is definitely better. What I need to build in though is time to reflect - first impressions and reactions are not always the best, so I will want to find space to mull over all I see and experience. Sometimes being cut off from all I know and understand is important - what does it feel like to be 'dis-connected' in order to re-connect? So, after I've spoken to Rob in an hour or so, I will refrain from 'Facetiming' for a couple of days - so I can be really here.