Monday, October 10, 2011

buenos aires. (part 1)

so my friends and i decided to take a little trip to buenos aires. of course, it didn't turn out to be a 'little' trip, and we enjoyed ourselves even more than we thought possible. after a few delays leaving quito, tracy, beth and i reunited in the airport in buenos aires to head into the city. we hopped on a bus and passed the short trip taking pictures and talking about how crazy it was that we were in a different country, once again. even though it was my second time there, i still had the feeling that i had arrived in the city for the first time. upon arriving, all you see is impressive structures, beautiful parks and hundreds of years of history all wrapped up in a mixture of latin america and europe. we arrive at the apartment of my bff alie church and settle in, take a nap and wake up to make a plan for the week! that night we went out to dinner to eat the best empanadas in the world, where i proceeded to fall asleep midsentence after 26 hours without sleeping. after getting a good nights rest we were off to uruguay (colonia) to spend the day. we took a boat, well more like a cruise ship, over to colonia and spent the day walking around the city. it honestly reminded me a little of harbor springs; small town, friendly, delicious food and beautiful scenery. the architecture of the city was absolutely increible as well. lots of colors, old brick, like being transported back to latin america 50 years ago. in reality, reminded me a little of havana cuba as well, at least the havana cuba from the movie dirty dancing havana nights. so after spending a beautiful day in this city, eating fried stuffing balls with cheese... deliciousssss! after the boat ride back, we headed back to get ready for a night out. from there we met up with some of alie's friends to have sushi (and wine), and after deciding that we did have energy, we headed out to a club. the club was fun, lots of people, great music, lots of lights and a cool style. we danced until about 4am and slept until 12 the next day. ahhhh life in buenos aires. the next day we explored the city a little. went to san telmo (a sector of the city) that has a market on sundays where we picked up gifts and presents for ourselves. you can pick up anything from scarves to tshirts, bracelets to leather jackets, and delicious street food too! even better, the market is located next to the famous plaza del mayo, so we walked around for a little bit taking pictures of the presidential palace and the plaza. after that, we headed back to the house to relax, cook some dinner and get ready for a big day ahead of us: alie getting her tattoo!!!!! ....

Monday, May 30, 2011

la liga

i realized that i´ve never shared the amazing experience of going to a soccer game here in ecuador. i´ve been lucky enough to go to a few games of la liga, the most important team in ecuador... and some say in all of south america. now everyone thinks that football and basketball games in the u.s. can get intense, but you haven´t seen anything until you go to a liga game. getting to the stadium is an adventure in itself because you get to climb onto a bus with hundreds of other excited liga fans, squished like sardines. then, you arrive to the beautiful and glowing casa blanca... thousands outside buying tickets, jerseys, singing, drinking... all excited for the possible victory of their beloved team. once you´ve entered, there are a few different places you can sit, depending on how brave you are. there´s the calmer section that is like any other sporting event. however, there´s also the section for those true, crazy, fans. the whole game you spend screaming your lungs out to the cheers that all of quito knows so well. you play with fireworks, dance on the fence and hope to not get trampled by the rest of the fans. and the whole time you´re surrounded by security who are just there to make sure we don´t mob the field after we win :) no matter where you sit though, you feel the excitment, the true love of the ecuadorians for their team. one other bonus: the food. let me tell you, once you´ve had a hot dog in ecuador, you´ll never be able to eat one any other way. ingredients: the dog itself, mustard, ketchup, onions, relish, mayo and potato chips. SO GOOD. combine all these things, and you get one unforgettable experience. soy de la UUUUUUUUUUUU.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

middle of the world and some mountain climbing

¡mitad del mundo!

pretty cool to know i walked the line at 0 latitude and 0 longitude, not many people can say they've done that! altough, there's some debate about where the actual location is, so who really knows. anyway, to start the story.... it was a lovely sunday morning, and nicolas and i decided that we had to do something fun. so he proposed going to pululahua, a geological reserve near mitad del mundo, about 30min south of quito. what i thought was going to be just a nice overlook and a nice hike turned out to be a scramble down the side of a mountain for 30min to get to the center of the... crater. it was hilarious, and beautiful once we got there. no one else around, just a little hotel and a couple 'stores' that sold essentials for the campers. after wandering and photographing for a little while we decided to start the trek back up. 50 minutes and lots of breaks later we finally returned to the top and headed for the middle of the world. first we went to this awesome museum that told the history of the peoples that lived there, how they used to shrink the heads of their peoples when they died, and the history of mitad del mundo. there were a bunch of tricks that they had us do as well to try and prove it was the middle of the world... like walk in a straight line with our eyes closed, balance an egg on a nail, etc... it all seemed quite legit, but who really knows? :) after the museum we made our way to the monument to take pictures and walk around. it was pretty amazing to think i was in the middle of the world, but it was definitly a tourist trap! lots of little stores selling stuff, lots of little places to eat. but impressive nontheless. lots of pictures on facebook, like always :) a very informative, and fun, day in ecuador.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

a novel of updates

alright. so i'd like to blame my absence of blogging on the fact that i don't have internet at my house, but lets face it, i just have been a complete slacker. and now i get to pay for it with one of the, what i'm sure will be, longest blogs ever. some of the adventures i've been on since my last post..... we'll start with the vivarium. aka: SNAKES! it's this really cool little mini zoo in the parque carolina in quito, and i had the pleasure of going with nicolas and his friend rosana. learned all about the snakes of ecuador; a little scary, but at least all of the snakes were behind glass. until the end, i got to hold a boa constrictor which was awesome! fun little afternoon.

next adventure? corrida de torros, otherwise know as a bullfight. was an amazing experience, but i will never attend another in my life. there were thousands of people there, and it was an important night because they're trying to pass a bill to change the tradition/eliminate the bullfights in ecuador, which many people are upset about. so in a way it was a big protest too. they started the night with chicken fights, then they had a mini parade through the ring with dancers, men on horseback, and a man dressed up as a bull. pretty entertaining. then the real show started. we were only going to see three bulls, but of course 3 turned into 6, apparently you can gift bulls during these events so we had the pleasure of watching 3 extra die. i have to admit, the bullfighter was amazing. his movements and skill with the bull were incredible, fluid and graceful. until the end. a few of the people i was with actually got sick, not suprising though considering how gruesome the ending is. all in all, i'm glad i went, i appreciate the art, but it's not something i think i could do again.

next stop? the hot spring spas that are about 1.5 hours away from quito. i went with all my other michigan state friends, which was great since we don't really get a ton of time to spend together outside school. the hot springs are called papallacta, and we pretty much spent the whole day in hot springs, looking off into the mountains. got my first massage which was sooooooo incredible. and it was so cheap too! gotta love ecuador. next was a lovely late afternoon lunch where we got to enjoy traditional ecuadorian cuisine. aka: meat and carbs. we also celebrated the birthday of one of our girls, vicki, with a yummy chocolate cake. and let me tell you, it's hard to come across a REAL chocolate cake in this country. mom, i miss yours. :)

after we got back from the hot springs, the next weekend resulted in a trip to the beach. oh, wow. was i ready for that. we, nicolas, his family and his friend antono, went to salinas and were able to stay in the apartment of his aunt that overlooks the beach. not a bad set up. we flew into guayaquil and then took a 4 hour bus ride to salinas, but thankfully it didn't seem to long. the days pretty much consisted of a long walk along the beach in the morning, breakfast on the balcony overlooking the beach, playing at the beach all day, strolling along the beach at night where people were selling art and jewelry, and traveling to other beaches to explore. the beaches here are different. you have to pay for an umbrella/tent and chairs (not a big deal cuz it's cheap)... and it actually works out better because you don't have to worry about bringing your own stuff. people walk along the beach selling almost everything from hammocks to jewelry to sunglasses to hair braids. don't recommend getting hair braids and NOT applying sunblock to the top of your head. that's a mistake i won't make again. but let me tell you, fresh coconut juice while laying on the beach is one of the best combinations ever. almost in heaven. none of us were ready to leave on sunday, but sadly everyone had to rejoin reality in quito.

CARNAVAL! this is one of the holidays we enjoy here in quito. to be perfectly honest, i can't really remember what it celebrates, but all i know is it was amazing because i got to backpack the inca trail with my andinismo class for 5 days. we left quito and spent our first night in riobamba, which is quite the lovely little city that is sandwiched between a couple beautiful moutains. spent the evening exploring the city, eating in a delicious pizza place that played old school michael jackson music videos. then we were lucky enough that our university has a university in riobamba where we got to sleep for the night. up at the buttcrack of dawn to head out since we still had 2 hours of travelling until we could start backpacking. mini adventure was that 1 hour was spent with all of us standing in the back of a truck. great way to get some beautiful pictures though. arrived at our starting point and loaded up the burros (mules) that were going to carry our packs. so lucky, because little did we know how brutal the trek was going to be. so just loaded with essentials, we took off. uphill, uphill and some more uphill had everyone sucking air for the first couple hours, but the breathtaking view at the top made it all worth it... mountains, mountains and more mountains. as we progressed the weather started to turn a little foul, so we all had to pull out our raingear and hope our shoes didn't sink too far into the mud. luckily everyone on the trip was ok with getting a little dirty, so we all had fun with it. after 5 hours we finally made it to our camping spot where we spent the first hour getting our tents up, organizing, getting water, etc. then we played games, and enjoyed a nice HOT meal before everyone passed out after a long, tiring day. up again bright and early, with a mountain or two to summit by the end of the day. thankfully we were blessed with some sunshine the next morning, and although it was cold our spirits were lifted because of it. Little did we know the long day ahead of us.... 8 hours of hiking, two mountain summits, incan ruins and multiple breathtaking views later we arrived at our next campsite where we enjoyed an amazing sunset while eating pasta and drinking scalding hot tea. later that night we enjoyed tunes around a fire, as well as banana boats (bananas that you cut open, pour in chocolate sauce, wrap in tin foil and put in the fire). SO TASTY. after a good nights sleep, we were up and off for our last leg of the journey. thankfully this part was much easier, and we spent our journey to inga pirka in the back of trucks again. this time, however, we got to enjoy being nailed with water balloons, buckets of water, spuma and whatever else those ecuas could find. it's a tradition during carnaval to do this, and it acutally ended up being really fun. especially once we got to cuenca. cuenca was absolutely incredible. it's a very historic town, all the buildings have a different estilo and color, and there are ZERO high-rises. we spent the evening running away from buckets of water, buying some water balloons so we could defend ourselves, drinking canelazo along the river while live bands played in the plaza and eating ice cream. que rico! spent the last night swapping stories and in the morning we were up bright and early to head back to quito. after feezing cold, but necessary, showers, we endured a long 8 hour bus ride; brutal, but most of us spent it sleeping from the long journey. we did get to watch about 6 jean claude van dam movies which was fabulous... NOT. haha. luckily we had some ice cream to numb the pain. after i got back to quito, it was time to catch up on homework, and most of all, sleep! another amazing experience in ecuador.... keep em coming.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


sorry it has been awhile, this whole internet thing is a lot harder when you steal it. maybe i should just ask the neighbors to keep up on their payments for me? lol, i'm sure that would go over well. alright, first adventure to look back on: rock climbing in ecuador. let me tell ya, the fact that i can go to a huge outdoor climbing facility for only $2 for the entire day?, me gusta. they've got areas for bouldering (without harnesses), a huge wall for those more experienced climbers and an amazing/friendly staff. yep, i'll be going there A LOT while i'm here. great workout too. speaking of workouts, i've started running again. not as bad as i thought it'd be with the altitude. plus, i'm running in cumbaya where my school is and not in quito so the air quality is quite a bit better. that's one of the only downfalls of this city: the pollution. feels great to be working out again. our next adventure was to the market in otavalo, about a two hour bus ride from quito, where they sell... EVERYTHING. there's an animal market which we missed, the food market (raw meat hanging from shop window, welcome to ecuador), the 'necesites' market (clothes, shoes, movies) and the artisan market (aka: tourist market). everything was absolutely beautiful, so many different types of jewelry, art, bufandas, etc.... and the vendors were so friendly and entertaining to bargain with. started getting all my presents for everyone, and a couple for myself as well :) now i look like the crazy gringa who's trying to wear ecua clothes/accessories to fit in... doesn't work, but helps! we wandered around the market for awhile, my friend matt putting all the girls to shame with his shopping skills. after we had all exhausted our funds, we meandered back to our bus, but not before coming upon a panadería (bread/pastry shop) where we splurged a whole $6 on 4 pieces of chocolate cake and 5 drinks. not too bad, eh? hopped back on the bus and back to quito we were.... however we've already decided we have to return. more presents to buy and a beautiful lake just minutes away we need to visit. after all nothing better to recover from a full day of bartering than a swim in a lake next to a mountain. my next big adventure: the amazon with my anthropology class. preparing my bag with the essentials: sunblock, rainboots and bug spay i arrived at the bus ready to go. 5 hours of bonding later we arrived in puyo to our hostel where we all crashed, not ready to get up in a mere 5 hours to begin the second part of our trek. but alas, 5 hours later there we were in the yard of a local eating a delicious breakfast of eggs, potatoes, meat, pan (bread), fresh maracuya (juice) and coffee. yummmmmm, just what we needed too. another 4 hours later we arrived to the shuar community where we were led into the amazon through lots of mud and trees. luckily i've had lots of practice in the u.p. with walking through giant mud 'puddles', thanks dad :) we arrived to the community, and it was refreshing how modest it was. one hut for the tourists to share bunk beds, one meeting hut, one sleeping hut and one hut for eating. after unpacking what little stuff we had with us, we wandered down to the river (a tributary of the amazon, no idea what the name is) and climbed into some home-made canoes for a little trip. the guides took us to this little island that was next to an awesome rope swing where we spent some time relaxing, swimming and swinging. hiked back to our base where we then enjoyed a delicious lunch of fish, soup and veggies straight from the amazon. next it was time for a tour of the flora and fauna of the amazon. and we wandered through the woods, the guide taught us about all the plants, animals and people of the amazon. plants that taste exactly like rhubarb and you eat when you're low on water, flowers and bamboo traps used to catch birds, trees used for communication, leaves used to relieve pain, plant sap used to promote circulation in the knees of babies (so they walk sooner), fruit that just plain tastes good, etc.... After we got back, it was time for a short descansa (rest) and then dinner! Yum yum, carne, sopa, arroz. after dinner we got to enjoy the music and dance of their people and learn about their way of life. everyone crashed hard that night from such a long day, and we all were up early again to get the day started. time for an incredible breakfast of eggs with carne, fried platanos, humita (como cornbread) y a traditional vegetable that's a cross between squash and potatoes. leaving the jungle was sad, i've never been in such a peaceful place in my entire life. i'll never forget overlooking the river and falling asleep to the sound of frogs and river flowing by...... back to the bus, and off to macas. stopped at a river to relax and bask in the sun, and after we headed to a lovely little resturant/zoo where we encountered exotic animals and an enormous yet delicious lunch. all the animals were incredibly lively, especially the mono (monkey) that broke free and decided that he was in love with all the guys on our trip. poor boys, it was quite a fight to get away.... but very entertaining for the rest of us :) leaving the resturant we had another little adventure: our bus got stuck. too long and too steep of a drop for us to make it out. after struggling for awhile we called some taxis and stuffed about 14 people into two of the to get us to the city while they tried to figure out the bus situation. gotta love riding in the bed of a truck, don't worry, the drivers are VERY careful (ish). arrving in the town of macas we were able to explore, get some icecream, some pan and relax in the town square. off to our last sleeping place of the trip, and we were all quite pleased when we arrived at the house/farm of our teachers good friend. setting our stuff in the 'attic'/top floor of the house (30 people, one room, interesting) we headed outside for some dinner. all the food here is good, no joke. after dinner, off to a local bar with everyone, including our teacher and some of her friends. let me tell you, coolest bar i've ever been too. everything was constructed from wood/bamboo. had a two level seating area next to a pool, huge bar area inside.... not too shabby. plus, it was all locals, so we got to mingle and meet tons of new people, and practice our spanish! but now to the important part: the pool. it's 65 degrees out and no one is swimming. something wrong with this picture? yes. so my new friends steve, liz and i decided to be the crazy gringos. after asking the manager if we could jump in, he politely said maybe and told us it wasn't the best idea to because of all the chemicals... so i asked, what chemicals? his response? chlorine. alright, i can handle that. after prompting from a friend of our teacher, jose, and quite a few of the ecuadorians surrounding the pool, we decided we had to do it and jumped in, arising from the water with cheers from everyone around the pool and a not so happy look from one of the bar workers. whoops :) but, in true ecua style, and as jose said smiling at his new crazy gringo friends, 'no pasa nada'. the rest of the night turned out great, met some new friends (apparently being sopping wet doesn't matter here) and danced the rest of the night away. returned to the house, crashed, and the next morning arose before everyone else and decided to explore with another girl from my class. on our mini adventure we ran into the incredibly kind mother of the house who proceded to give us a tour of her land, the crops she grows, the trees/flowers/wildlife and the story of her household. ended up leaving with lots of fruit and some beautiful flowers for my room... the early bird does get the worm! breakfast and off to the bus for our lovely 8 hour bus ride, where we slept, watched movies and did some homework. stopped in the town of banos on the way home where some of ate at their central food market, aka: large cafeteria looking area with little stations where women made their food and we got to walk around and decide which looked most scrumptious. $2 for soup, huge plate of meat, potoatoes, salad, rice and a drink..... not too shabby. not just for the food, i'll being heading back their soon. lots to explore/do in banos. but alas, we only had an hour and back on the road again we were. arriving back in quito was bitter sweet, happy to be back home, but missing the amazon. just means i'll have to go back, right?

for photos: (amazon)
and (otavalo)

of course the weekend wasn't over, after all is was super bowl sunday, so i headed over to a friends house for american snacks and american football. quite the weekend. and i love it.

in other news:
school is, well school. better because everything is in spanish, but it's much harder to feel motivated in quito :) had my first exam, we shall see, but i felt good leaving so i think that's a good sign. it was for my literature class, so lots and lots of writing. i've been able to explore quito quite a bit. on sundays one of the biggest streets in the city is closed, so i was able to go on a longggggg bike ride to the center of the city where my 'guides' gave me the history of quito, showed me different historic sites, churches, fed me some delicious food and helped me learn my way around the city a little bit better. this may have to be a new sunday tradition. i've also gotten a chance to explore some of the parks that are in/surround the city. let me tell you, for such an enormous city, the two parks i've visited are incredible, and HUGE too. beautiful overlooks of the city, plenty of naturaleza/bosque (nature/forest), solitude and not a ton of people. will be returning to those as well. and now my hands need a rest, off to do some reading, some yoga on my patio and some planning for the next adventures. much love!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


so much to say, so little space! well, i guess it is the internet so i have unlimited space :) so here we go.....

traveled to mindo with everyone from msu (13 of us) this past weekend. this tiny town is known for their kindness, plentiful outdoor activities and entertaining nightlife. well, we covered it all. the bus ride was a little over two hours, and most were ready to get off after all the bumps and winding roads. we were greeted at the bus stop by paula who took us to our amazingggggg hostel 'la casa de cecilia' where wer were shown our awesome house that we got to stay in for the weekend. yoga-esk style we left our shoes on a mat by the door and settled ourselves in quite quickly. after unpacking, we made the short trip into town and decided on a little mom n' pop resturant which turned out to be delicious! i enjoyed some shrimp while many of the others had their first experience with eating fish in ecuador... let me give you a hint, they don't cut it for you, it comes out, head n' all :) after we headed to a local reggae bar that was a mere 50 yards from our hostel where we got to dance and socialize with the locals. after deciding we were all exhausted we headed back to the hostel to crash, and after covering ourselves with misquito nets passed out and awoke with the sun the next morning. we all enjoyed breakfast at the hostel next to the river while hummingbirds swarmed around us. then it was off to go tubing, so we all climbed into the back of a truck (their cabs) and headed out. we soon realized however, that it wasn't going to be anything relaxing when they started fitting us with helmets and life jackets... and the river didn't look to nice either. oh well, here we go! the ride was insane and incredible. we all had to sit in between 6 tubes that were tied together and adjust ourselves for approaching rocks while the guides acted as 'river wisperers' and led us through the rapids. i've never heard guys scream so loud in my entire life! after everyone shared some laughs, it was time to head back to get some grub and prepare ourselves for the ziplines. if the 'tubing' was that intense, we couldn't imagine what the ziplining was going to be like! well, one word, stunning. and another word, well, i can't think of another, because it left me speechless. we got to go on 12 different lines, starting 'low' and making our way up to the top of a small mountain for the last one. once we got going, the guides were all about doing 'activities' like the mariposa (flip upside-down) and the superman (see pictures) as well as bouncing us every which way. gotta say, flying upside down hundreds of feet in the air has got to be one of the craziest things i've ever done. again, please look at the photos, there's no way i could ever describe how amazing this experience was. after we were done, it was time for a nap, and then we all got ready to go out to dinner. enjoyed a delicious meal, and then headed to a local salsa bar where everyone got their chance to show off their skills. or at least get some lessons :) back to the hostel to sleep, and up n' at em bright and early to go to the waterfalls. let me tell you, anyone is afraid of heights, you may not enjoy mindo... there was another little trolley ride through the forest, hundreds of feet up, to get to our trails for the waterfalls. battling mud and lots of hills, we were able to enjoy multiple waterfalls, flora, fauna and got some quality swim time in as well. can't complain, can't wait to go back too, still have to conquer the large waterfall (about the height of a 10 meter board) that's about an hour's hike away from the starting point. returned to the hostel, packed up and began the journey back. don't think i've ever seen so many people passed out on a bus.... it was a long, but incredible weekend. if you're ever in ecuador, go to mindo. not only was it amazing, but i don't think there's anywhere else in the world that you'll be able to find all of it at the prices we paid. 5 bucks for tubing, 10 bucks for ziplining and 5 bucks for the waterfalls. oh yea, and the cabs were 50 cents/person. ¡bienvenido a mindo! until next time....

photos! :

in other not quite as exciting news, i've gotten used to the buses (which are a little hectic but cheapppppp), finally have my class schedule set, experimenting new and delicious foods, becoming great friends with my guards outside my house, starting to get a tan going and making new friends along the way. next adventure, obtaining my censo (kind of like a liscense in the us) so i can get sweet discounts and so i'm able to leave this country, if i ever decide i want to :) haha, just kidding! hasta luego todos.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

no hay palabras

there are no words. i thought quito was beautiful at 9,000 feet. now, after seeing it at 14,000 feet i think this may be the most beautiful city i've ever been to (don't worry, i'm not forgetting about argentina... they aren't really comparable:)). but first, orientation....went on friday to usfq, and while it was really long it was also quite entertaining! (and very informative) i can't believe how beautiful the campus is, so much plant life, the buildings are all constructed with so much history i don't think i'll ever learn it all. and everything is close together too, nothing like msu (thankfully)!.....
on friday, it was joe's birthday, and we all decided to go out and celebrate. there were many of us at the dinner, including joe's mom and the 'hermanos' de matt, camila, belen and nicolas. it was a blast, and when the waitresses came out to sing happy birthday to joe, the look on his face was priceless. especially because they made him get up and dance too, while they played drums and sang. after dinner we went to 'la mariscal', a popular bar area for locals and tourists alike. the bar was crowded, but exactly what we gringos needed for our first night out. lots of dancing, music from the us, latin american music, bonding with new friends (sorry, cheesy) and just plain good times. also nice because matt's sisters have a cab driver they use every time they go out, pedro, who took us everywhere and has become our new driver for when we want to go out. don't worry family, i always take a cab with mis amigos, never alone. funny thing about quito is that at night, you barter for your cab price… and normally end up spending about 3-6 dollars for a ride that would cost about 15-20 in the us. oh, and the food here is crazy cheap too, i had empanadas and the most amazing juice ever (FRESH) for a mere 3 dollars. awesome, right? after returning from the bars, i checked in with my mom, and i've never seen anyone so happy that i had a great time out with my friends, and partly because my friends and i were responsible and smart about everything we did. it's very different when everywhere you go you have to think about your safety and keep track of everything around you. makes you appreciate the security we have in the us, that's for sure. next day rolls around, and i get a call from matt… my mom said we need to go to the 'teleforico'… a huge gondola that goes to the top of one of the mountains in quito. so off we go, matt, christina, alex and i. up in the gondola, slowing acending 4100 more feet above the city, watching the ground disappear beneath us, watching the city expand into a beautiful portrait that i could never describe in words. as soon as we stepped off the gondola, we could tell this adventure was going to be a workout… walking to the lookout points was exhausting! i think it may be the one place in the world where everyone is out of shape. as we made our way to the lookout point, we got to watch clouds rolling over the mountain, so close it seemed that we could touch them. we met luis, a lovely ecuadorian, who managed the horse pasture and the various tours that you can take with them including a tour around the volcano that sits nearby. at this point, we all started to realized that none of us were wearing sunscreen, and at 14,500 feet we knew we were doomed. whoops! ah well, not going to dwell on it at that point. so we head back down the mountain, and then go to matts house where his mom feeds us a delicious cold soup with spices and shrimp. soups are incredibly popular here, but luckily all the ones i've tried so far are delicious. went home, took a nap, and relaxed for the rest of the night. never thought i'd be able to blame exhaustion on altitude, but then again i've never lived at 9,000 feet before. today, i made my mom pancakes with real maple syrup that I brought form the us. so our brunch consisted of pancakes, eggs, sausage, coffee and fresh squeezed juice. huge and delicious. did some yoga on my deck in the sunshine, took a nap, watched some movies (in spanish) and started organizing our next adventures with some of my fellow msu students. now it's time for some more delicious fruit and some socializing, until then, much love to everyone.

for all my photos, follow this link:

Thursday, January 6, 2011


where to begin? with my acceptance at the universidad san fancisco de quito (usfq)? with my trip to chicago to obtain my visa? with saying tearful goodbyes? (even though i'll be back before any of us know it). with packing till 12, and then waking up at 3:30 for my flight? or with where i am right now... unpacked, settled in, drinking maracuya (the best juice EVER) and still not believing that i'm in quito ecuador for the next 5 1/2 months.
i guess from the very beginning...
i've wanted to study abroad forever, since middle school really. and i've always always wanted to be fluent in spanish, i can thank my brother for part of that. then after i spent time in argentina this past summer, i knew i had to come back to south america, and soon. so that's where msu came in.... i was pumped when i got my acceptance letter from both msu and usfq, but after sending in my confirmation, the whole idea hadn't sunk in quite yet. i went about my daily life, kind of pushing the whole thing aside until, 2 months before the trip, i realized i had to get my visa, get a physical, sign up for classes and get them approved, get shots (yikes!), etc.... but still i took my time. whoops. caused myself a little extra stress doing everything so last minute, but hey, i'm here right? it was an adventure along the way though. i got to see my family in chicago, got another chance at overcoming my fear of needles/shots, met the people i'd be traveling with, realized how much my family and friends meant to me and got to test my skills at packing. one suitcase, one backpack and 5.5 months worth of stuff. no chris, i did not just bring two pairs of pants. :)
the flights were good, but also interesting. for the 6am flight, i was lucky enough to have a screaming child and lots of turbulance. then onto the 6 hour layover. thankfully i had my computer and movies on hand. second flight, overall much better. sat next to my new friends matt and sara, both who are here studying. got a pretty decent dinner on the flight too, we were all quite surprised. some sketchy turbulance while flying through some rainstorms, but luckily the humor of my seatmates kept things entertaining in spite of all the jolts of the plane. off the plane, through customs and security (no issues there, thankfully) and onto meet my host mother! se llama silvia, y me caí muy bien. (her name is silvia and i like her very much)
after a quick city tour, back to my new home and learning how to unlock the three doors and even more locks to get into the house, a tour of the home and into my new room. with windows everywhere, pictures of loved ones and cozy furniture, i know i'll be at home here. can't complain when i currently have my windows open and can feel the warm breeze blowing through. ahhhhhh. alright. that's enough for now. time to go to el bosque (the mall) that's only a couple blocks away... and later, who knows :)