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 :)