Saturday, January 8, 2011

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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.

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