Past the point, maybe, since you got it straightened out, but for future reference or others' reference...
If you're in vim and don't know what to do, hit 'escape' to make sure you're in command mode. Type ':' to get to the vi command line. Type 'help' to get help.
If you're in vim and want to get out, hit escape a zillion times because you're probably pretty annoyed and it'll make you feel better.
Then hit ':' and 'q!', which means, basically, 'Command - quit and I mean it!'
Basically, if you use a gui editor, you can't edit while you're mousing over a menu, right? Or you use an accelerator like 'Alt-F' to open the file menu, right? It doesn't actually type an F. Same with vim - command mode is like a GUI menu mode. When you type 'i' in command mode, it doesn't insert an 'i'. It gets you into insert mode. Then you start typing as normal. Just like when you move off the menu with a mouse or hit 'escape' to close the menu, you start typing again as normal.
Vim just has 'modes' instead of menus. A command mode and insert mode instead of a menu bar and a text area. In a sense, it's a freaking pain and in a sense it's perfectly normal. And if you've seen gvim's menus and think how many things there are on them and how they represent a small fraction of what vim can do, you can see vim's pretty powerful.
But - if you don't have pico or nano or joe or whatever, you should really have mc. That has an internal editor that's very DOS-like. Very easy to use and comes complete with nifty highlighting. Either invoke it from within mc or issue 'mcedit' and, if you've got the symlink, it should bring up the editor component.