Wednesday, July 23, 2008


129 Steiss St, Glen Carbon, Illinois 62034

This is the address to my church where we will be hosting a little fiesta post-Ecuador for my friends, family and interested persons.  If you are are on Main Street in Glen Carbon, heading west, go past the covered bridge, past the Casey's gas station and then turn right on the first road after Casey's. At the end of the road is a church, Lifepoint, and parking space for all. :)

If you have immediate questions or concerns, send me an e-mail or place a response to this post.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Home & Fiesta

Hey Everyone,

I made it home safe with only sore ribs, almost another problem with my flight and was home even earlier than originally expected. It is good to be home and I appreciate so much those of you who have read this blog during my time in Ecuador. I hope to return for more time doing adventures and less in the classroom as the country is diverse and amazing.

On that note, we are having a get together for a little review of my trip and time hanging out together this Friday night. Because there may be more people than would fit inside of my house, we will have the party at Lifepoint Church in Glen Carbon, IL. If you have been reading this, you are welcome to come and join us. Although there will not be a formal meal, we will have some finger foods and some drinks, but if you want to bring your own favorite soda, feel free to do so. We will meet at 7pm Friday evening (the 25th of July I think) at the church. If anything changes, I will update the blog. :)

Hope to see you all very soon! -Sam-

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Sorry to have not written much, er at all, this week. My injury in the canyoning experience was a little more intense than I had thought. Or perhaps I simply aggrevated it by my actions on Tuesday.

I have wanted to summit or at least hike up a mountain while I was here and had not had the opportunity due to my intense studies. SO, on Tuesday my professor and I went to the top of the TeleferiQo and then hiked up towards Mount Pichincha for about 3 hours or so. We arrived at the rock base of the final section but the weather was bad (rain and ice) and I didn´t think that I would have the strength with my ribs hurting to crawl up the rocks and summit the mountain. So...about 50 meters shy of the top we stopped, ate and returned. Next time, I will make it to the top....and I did reach a new high altitude for hiking - 4700 meters.

On the way back down the mountain I slipped in the NOW mud from the storms and think that that aggrevated the whole rib thing. The teacher thinks that I had cracked them, but I am still not sure if they are just really bruised or worse. Nonetheless, today I began to feel better and hope that this is a trend. I have my final class tomorrow, my final presentation tomorrow, and have to pack and ....I wish that I had more time here.

That being said, I have done so many CHEVRE things here and hope and wish to come back for more time in activities other than simply studying. It is a beautiful country, relatively inexpensive and wow....the views can be amazing!

I do miss everyone at home too and will try to plan a time where those who desire to see or hear about my trip can do so. I am sorry that I haven´t posted any pictures recently. BUT the reason is that the thieves stole my camera cable and that makes the whole picture thing kinda tough. I hope that I can fix it in the future after I return to the States. Hasta luego.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Canyoning - I survived, but not unharmed

So today was the day of the infamous canyoning. We basically repelled down a small 20 foot waterfall, then a larger 30 footer with water drenching us as we descended. The third was the most difficult because although small the water was very powerful. I had some confidence by then and was bouncing my way down when the water took my feet out from under me, the rope then pulled me toward the canyon wall under the waterfall and a rock jabbed me in my chest - upper left side for me. I then basically fell the last 5 feet into the water below. The rock in the chest hurt a little and I think that I may have slightly bruised a rib or strained a tendon or muscle between the ribs. In reality, it is not that serious but it was one of my two injuries today.

The other was rope burn on my right hand and finally led to slight bleeding. It was SO worth a little cut. I thought I was going to pee my pants as I, with a fear of heights, stood on the edge of the canyon/waterfall looking down 45 135 feet. The guide told me to stand on this piece of plastic, then to go to my knees, and finally slide down. It was then that I truly repelled as I went straight down 6-8 feet from the wall of the canyon, waterfall on both sides of me, and I controlled my descent with the rope. It was SO incredible and I still cannot believe that I did it. Marty from Texas, and his son Hunter, convinced me to come with them after rafting yesterday, and I am so glad that I did this instead of horseback riding a trail. What a rush!

As I am going to so be leaving Baños, I will sum it up. It is a small, safe, beautiful city in the mountains, under an active volcano, and is essentially the gateway to adventure sports and the rainforest. The weather had been poor but today better and I think usually the weather is usually pretty incredible here. More tropical and less rain...normally. :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

White Water Rafting

I went white water rafting towards the jungle today! Class 3-4 for those of you in the know. We left at 9am and I got to know a group of people...2 Swedes, 2 Texans, 2 Canadians, and a fellow St. Louisian. It was amazing and so fun. The water was freezing and we all wore wetsuits to prevent any issues. At times, I heard loud noises and then realized that it was the rocks moving under the water from the strong force of the water. We never flipped over but there were a few times that I thought that we was crazy!

I am enjoying my time away from the city and when I return, I want to come to visit and stay in Baños for a while. The hostal that I am staying in is clean, cheap ($7 per night) and safe. This whole town feels safe and secure. A nice change from the events of this past week. Baños is a great hub for activities: hiking, mountaineering, cascade viewing, rafting, jungle tours, repelling down a canyon (tomorrow´s activity for me), biking, and hot natural pools of water. The city is at the base of a huge volcano, active and unable to be appreciated from the base. BUT there are tours to the opposing mountain for views of the eruptions at night. is safe.

I return tomorrow to Quito if I survive the canyoning experience. My time here has become short and I wish that I could have done more stuff the first weeks here. The people you meet from within and outside of this country here are nice and interesting. I have met SO many people here volunteering as medical missionaries or on medical projects. It is actually QUITE incredible. It has been a fun and interesting adventure.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I arrived safely in Baños and it is relaxing, but has a night life as well. I have been the subject of an interview in English for some college students, eaten lasagna, found my hotel, decided to go white water rafting, and am enjoying being away from Quito after a long and difficult week. I will try to take some pictures tomorrow, but I arrived at night and only know that way up in the darkness I see the light of a restaurant...the mountain/volcano is HUGE! I may try a horse ride on mountain Sunday morning. I wish now that I could study here... :)

Hasta mañana.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Grand Theft...House?

Sorry for the blogging silence this week. I have been busy studying and recovering from the trip to the beautiful laguna. Plus it has been a sad day and 1/2.

Thursday at around 1pm - 2pm during the afternoon while I was at school (at lunch actually) the house in which I am staying was robbed, the iron gate door and wooden entry door broken, and unfortunately, my laptop was taken. Apparently I was kinda lucky as they got to my room last, having already stolen the computer of Marisol, her digital camera, new cellular phone and a lot of money she had saved/stashed away. Their rooms were a disaster as if the thieves were looking for jewelry. Somehow they only took my computer even though the digital camera was right next to it on the desk and my credit card and passport were in a cubby in the open on the other side of the room. I was really upset but the good news is that all are alive, unhurt and for my part, it was only a computer and not my passport, gifts, or other things that I have here.

The story generally is that the thieves broke into the house while the family was grocery shopping. The mother in law of Sr. Gutierrez lives in a apartment kind to the side and back and came home and stopped in the house to find the robbers inside. She is like about 90 years old. The theives told her that they were friends of the Sr. G. and tried to get her actively involved in one of young Alex´s toys to distract her. Instead, she told them that they were robbers and they shortly later fled the house. When I arrived the whole family was already inside and the Abuelita was shaking from fear of the whole experience. I gave her my warm coat to warm her up and held her and talked to her until she had calmed down. It felt good doing something in this crappy situation. Sr. G. told me that it was the first time this had ever happened, although we have heard that these things can and do happen sometimes. The neighborhood is relatively nice, so two bad people (guy and girl) must have targeted the home or a group of homes. (There was a robbery a week ago, close by)

Normally this stuff doesn´t happen except in the cities and even then it is rare. There are so many cool things to do here and I don´t want this to dampen my enthusiasm for the program here, the country, nor anyone that may want to visit. In reality it could have happened in the US just as easily, but the police in the US are much more vigilant and aggressive than the ones here. Unfortunately.

So...I am taking a mini-vacation to Baños. Check the link attached or type
Only the weekend, but I think that I need it...BAD! :) Also, my journey here is nearing its end. I wish that I had more time for travel and fun, but I have learned alot, and I do miss everyone at home. Hasta luego.