Mom and Dad,

How are you? Everything's great here, I'm having so much fun! The weather here is so different from New York. When I first got here, I was wearing my red turtleneck shirt with my khaki pants. As soon as I entered Ecuador I was sweating! We’re going to have to get used to wearing shorts and T-shirts, although I've been noticing that many Ecuadorians wear pants. The elderly seem to prefer long traditional skirts. Ecuador is very hot! Actually the equator runs right through most of Ecuador. (Ecuador is Spanish for equator, that is how it got its name.) The equator makes Ecuador extremely hot in those areas like where the tropical rainforest is. I am in a town called Quito. It is very hot here, however, in some areas like where the Andes Mountains pass by, it is exactly the opposite. It is very chilly because of the high elevation. No crops grow there and believe me, it would be terrible to live there.

Since I've been here I've met someone named Jessica. She is 1 year older than me and lives next-door to my hotel. She is a mestizo, which is a Spanish-Indian Mix. 55% of Ecuador's population is mestizo. She has been teaching me Spanish. That is the main language here.

Jessica and I went shopping together in the town of Quito. Many salesmen sold their goods on the street. Ecuadorians pay with sucres. I was very confused at first, but it is quite simple. You just have to know that 10 sucres equal 1 American dollar. She told me that we would have to wait to get into the real stores because they were on their 2-hour lunch break! Then we went to a museum and looked at ancient mummies. They were really interesting.

We decided to eat in an Ecuadorian restaurant. The food there was really good. I had a bowl of rice and beans and some fresh fruit. As an appetizer I had special soup that I had never heard of before. It is called locro. It is made with cheese meat, potatoes and avocados. It was pretty good and I think you guys would like it.

Here are some things that you may find important. If we decide to live near the coast, we will have to watch out for a disease called Dengue Fever. It is carried by mosquitoes and can be deadly. Although wherever you go, there are always some problems like typhoid, cholera, polio, malaria and yellow fever .

I particularly like this town Quito. The temperature will take some getting used to, but other that, I think we should consider buying a Condo here. Quito is the wealthiest town in all of Ecuador, and besides, I will live near Jessica! Schools are pretty good here, only they start in October and only go to April! What a break! And Mom, you know how you always said you wanted to learn how to sew? Well in Ecuador, You will have to know how to sew well enough to make a career out of it! Most clothes are hand-made.

As you know, I'm going to be 15 next year! Ecuadorians have parties when they are 15. The parties are called quincineras. It’s just like having a Sweet 16 back in New York. I was invited to go to Jessica's in May. It sounds like fun.

Also, Did you know that Ecuador owns the Galapagos Islands? They are 55 miles off the coast. Many exotic creatures live there. Also there are many things you can do, like go scuba diving or snorkeling. Can you imagine how fun it would be to go there? I hope we can someday.

Well, that is about all I have to tell you so far, but I will keep you updated. I hope all is well, I love you both.

Your daughter,