Sunday, June 29, 2008

Whole again - mercado

So it is Sunday and I think that I am finally reaclimatized to the altitude here in Quito. It was no problem really when I arrived but we descended about 8000 feet to the rainforest and then reascended that amount in 5 screws with your system a lot. I didn´t eat or drink enough the first day back and kinda felt sick to my stomach Friday and then Saturday morning.

So both of my friends that were studying Spanish are gone back to the states, but before they left the three of us went to an open air indigenous people market in a park here in Quito. Many of the people are from Otavalo, a city known for its native market, and the people love to haggle. I bought a few items but honestly, it was simply overwhelming. There is SO MUCH stuff, all hand made, all relatively cheap, and it is good to take a limited amount of money when you go. The good news is that I got to pratice my spanish and asked lots of questions about where the goods were made, how long they took to make, who made them and I was understood fairly well I think. Better towards the end as I had an hour´s worth of intesive bartering practice. :)

I am convinced that salespeople are the same the world around and even more when making the sale is their entire livelyhood. Ever time you asked about something, the response was - this costs (for example) $8......but I will give it to you for $7. Or I will give a discount for buying multiple things. Or...¿Cuánto?, which means - how much do you want to pay for it. I bartered one item from $10 to $6. It was kind of intense during the negociations, but after all smiles - both sides. I love the indigenous people because they work hard, barter hard, and are friendly to me. Probably because I will buy somthing, but many Ecuadorians are more closed until you have an opportunity to get to know them.

I also found the indigenous market that is open everyday and it is more crazy and harder to look at the stuff. Let me tell you something about the goods...I saw leaves (from trees) that essentially had images tatooed into them and were beautiful. I saw art work made from different types of leaves with different textures and I was just amazed. There are products of jade, clay, wood, algodon, and alpaca. Often an item will take a day to a week to make...especially the medium sized rugs or wall hangings. The paintings are pretty spectacular as well, and many copies of the works of the painter/muralist Guyasamin are everywhere....and quite good too. There are so many cool things to look at and touch and I will try to bring my camera next time to give you an idea of the breadth of goods.

I am going to try and get in contact with my new friend Jamela (see the pictures 2 posts ago) as she apparently went white water rafting, and this left her in the hospital overnight in Tena. I know nothing right now other than though she is safe, she has to miss her trip to the Galapagos. I am so sorry for her. :(

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Picture Explanation

The first picture on yesterday´s post is of Cocoa. The base for chocolate. You can take the white slimy things and suck on them (I found them to be bland) but if you dry out the inside seed it is the cocoa. We did lots of cool stuff at the first camp like seeing a tree that bleeds when cut and is supposed to help with wounds and indigestion. We sucked on cocoa seeds and slept under mosquito nets. The camp was very rustic and did not have electricity, but we used flashlights and candles and stayed up late playing a new card game called Cuarenta (40).

The second, third and fifth pictures are from the second camp, which was a lot more modern with electricity, warm showers and even a small bar. It had an amazing view over looking the river Chico (in Spanish, different in Quechua) - pic 2. I went with Nikki, who is from Minnesota, and our teacher Silvana. We met lots of people from all over the world, some teaching English as a second language in Ecuador (there is a need, but I think it is more of a volunteer thing for the most part), another small group which are trying to help Ecuador community by community (, others on vacation after college for a year from England and from Germany. These people started in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and followed the coast around to Chile and then north through Peru and Bolivia and now Ecuador. We also met other students from the US studying Spanish and even a lady on a medical mission to a city south of Quito. In the picture (#3) it is Nikki, my fellow student, myself, and then Jamela (medical mission) and her friend Justin, who is taking some time to travel and has quit his job in New York. These two were a lot of fun and interesting to talk with. We are tenatively planning to go out to eat tonight in Quito.

The other picture is with Silvana the teacher, me, a different student named Nikki and then my fellow student Nikki. We were at an indian villiage giving books and crayons and toothbrushes to them and then we had the opportunity to buy some hand-made necklaces. It was interesting, but the children were very shy and quickly ran back to the other side of the villiage.

I put a picture of the first Tarantula that I encountered while studying on day 2 at the second camp. While we saw only 3 the whole trip they made life interesting and a little scary for us as there was a gap at the bottom of our doors in which a tarantula could easily enter. Thank goodness for thick towels. :) We placed them under the doors the final night after spotting 2 above the outside of the doors to our rooms. Oh....and the last picture is as close as I got to wrestling an anaconda...the guides found a small boa in the jungle and brought it up to the lodge for show and tell....and to put around our necks. Don´t worry....they are not poisonous....simply want to squeeze. :)

I had an amazing time and climbed up a three level waterfall, swam in a laguna, went down an incredibly strong natural waterslide, ascended a canyon with my feet on one side and my back on the other and then I went STRAIGHT UP! I also walked through an old rainforest, a newer rainforest, and squeezed between some huge rocks that had been cut away by the water.

By the rained at least three times a day and was constantly moist. Thankfully, since we were close to the mountains it was not super hot and stayed in the 70´s most of the time. My clothing took about 5 days to air dry and even then they were kinda damp from the humidity. I recommend simply bringing a mixture of old short and long sleeve t-shirts and then donating them to the garbage can. I had a shirt that was incredibly stinky after my swim in the river during a floating trip towards the Napo river...the Napo is the primary artery to the Amazon.

The wierd thing is that the rainforest is about 8000 feet lower than Quito and I think that yesterday I was struggling to adjust back to the altitude. I didn´t eat much and didn´t drink enough water, but today feel much better. Just need to keep adjusting. :) I will post more soon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Anaconda Trip - Pictures

Here are the pictures:

I will write more in the morning hopefully as I am feeling a bit tired and worn down from a fun, but long week in the jungle. I really didn´t get enough sleep last night and look forward to hitting the sack. I am going to put a few pictures up (I hope) and will post more tomorrow. The good news is that I survived and had an amazing adventure. :)

I´m Alive

Hey everyone...more soon, BUT I am alive, had a great time, am really dirty, hungry and don´t have enough money with me for anything more than going home. I promise to write later and hopefully upload some pictures. :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pictures Update...Gone for a Week

Since I am leaving SUPER early in the morning for the Amazon and will not return for a week. I am sorry that I cannot post while I am there but the Anaconda´s rule everything, even the internet and they are quite selfish with it. Therefore, I will be taking pictures and writing my thoughts so that I can pass them on to you when I return.

Here is a picture of me and Alexito.

Alex can wear on me some days but I think that he is a good kid over all. He and I got to be friends over the pictures in my computer of me and my family and then we played the hide the object game while riding in the car the other day. So...I guess we became friends and he gave me a cold. What a trade! :) The good news is that I am like 95% healthy I think and hope that a decent night´s sleep will cure the rest.

To give you an idea of the snake skin on the wall...the little one is the Boa and the big one that will not fit in the frame is the Anaconda. Please believe me when I tell you that it extended at least another 3-5 feet on either side of the frame. This was at the Mitad del Mundo, the Ecuador location, and I unfortunately had too little time to really enjoy everything about the place. I guess it is normal to want to spend more time in a place like this, but as always we want to see everything and simply go...go...GO!

So, for those of you that think that I have a poor taste in clothing, I give you this guy...he is a character in their fesitval of the Sun, which begins tomorrow on the Solstice. He represents the devil, but something else as well. There is a syncritism of the indian religions and Catholicism. The former gods of the sun, moon, and other natural things, have found a connection to a certain Catholic saint and therefore, both are kind of celebrated at the same time.

Anyway, this guy really wanted me to take his picture and his girlfriend tried to get out of the picture. How would you like to date the devil? :)

The next picture is the from the top of that mountain the day I got really cold and really sick. As you can see the weather was not good, but the mural was kinda cool and is fairly normal for the Ecuadorian artists that I have seen (non-indian artists that is). There is a strong connection in their culture between the pre-Spanish peoples and the repression that has occurred in different ways ever since. The two hands are breaking the chains of repression and you have the sun, which represents the importance of the sun now and before with their chief god being, Inti - the sun god. You can see the intermingling of the two religions with the cross and the church on the right. This whole thing was painted on a huge wall about 20´ by 60´ if not more.

The final picture is of a huge head....NOT MINE! :) and me. This was in the church/school/nunnery that I visited and in which the guide didn´t really want to help me much. I really do not know what it means, but there are little faces on the head in different colors and the chain with the rock coming out of the mouth. Any ideas?

So I hope that you all keep me in your prayers as I don´t think that I am in good enough shape to win against the anacondas, and I didn´t buy the blowgun that I saw today...

Back in a week! Hasta luego.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My favorite bread...Pan Guayasin

Here is a pìcture of my favorite bread from the local (to the school) Panadería.


Pictures - San Diego & Graveyard

This is a cross in the cementerio (cementary) near to the church of San Diego. It is crazy that they bury many of the people above ground in these structures and each one has the name and often flowers as well. The bigger buildings are for the rich or more important people here. When we arrived a funeral procession was happening and I tried to catch a picture. Later (as has happened often) I found out that I wasn´t supposed to take pictures here.

Picture Catchup Time

The middle of the Mitad del Mundo. The Ecuator. Crazy stuff here. You cannot walk in a straight line with your eyes closed (of course, sober) on the ecuator. You can (I couldn´t) balance an egg on its head. You can see an old sundial style clock. You can KIND OF see the burning of cardboard style paper by a powerful overhead sun through this glass ball. I saw the smoke and the paper just burn (no waiting...)

I also saw an Anaconda and wrestled him to death. OK OK ...he was already dead and under glass when I got to him...but he needs to look out. :) There was a huge snake skin on the wall...too large for the frame (anaconda again) that had to be more than 40 feet wide. YIKES!

I talked to my dad about this but the water that swirls in our drains and toliets at home in a certain swirling direction, does the opposite below the ecuator...the CRAZY thing is that on the ecuator, water does not simply goes through. Here is a picture.

FYI: I updated a new post that I started 4-5 days ago and it has a new picture on it. :) For your viewing pleasure...

85% For a Day

So after another crappy night, last night, with chills and a temperature, I had a pretty good day. I felt a sore throat this morning and that has pretty much continued but the weakness has diminshed greatly and I went out on a shopping excursion today...for me, but also for the indian children of the Amazon.

I bought books and crayons in Spanish because they do not have much of anything like that. I bought about 15 books and 2 boxes of crayons for them. I think that they will like them and it was kinda cool to see the Viajes de Gulivar (Gullivar´s Travels) and the Blancanieve (Snow White). I also found a bunch of hiking and mountaineering stores. Aparently, we were in the Gringo District because all of the American travelers and businessmen go through here. While many things were of similar prices there were also a bunch of things for a lot less.

Tomorrow, I have to give my speech, take a test and then I think we get more or less the afternoon off. Finally. :) Just for the record, while I thought that the Amazon trip was purely for interest and fun, not so. I have 1/2 day classes each day (including Sunday) and so it will be more learning...both a good thing and a frustrating one. I keep feeling like my head is going to explode with all of the language rules and exceptions and situations that I need to learn. It was funny to hear the niño Alex use the subjunctive/imperative tense at around 4 years of age. ¡No te vayas! ¡No te vayas! Abra la puerta. Abra la puerta. A tantrum by a young boy used to getting his way when he screams a lot.

The weather has been quite nice today. I hope that tomorrow continues the trend. I will try to upload pictures but I don´t think that it will work from here...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The raining Futbol day

Right now, Ecuador and Colombia are tied 0-0 and the game is in Quito, not too far from where I live. I was thankful that the trolley-bus was not too full because I felt horrible when I was coming home. I don´t feel too much better now, but I needed to write and get out of the house for a bit.

I found some Halls!! I am so happy because I thought this country had not menthol tablets for soothing sore throats. How wrong was I? I mean, I should have known, if you have Coke Zero, you must have about everything. I have been taking pills from my emergency pack that are for sore throat fever, muscle soreness, etc. but it seems like they take a while to work. On the other hand I saw aspirin today too but the aspirin may have codine and as much as I might want to try this, Ecuador is not the country to try new medicines. ;)

I got a message from the American government about a danger that can happen on the mountain path to the closest volcano to Quito. I was planning on summiting it, but now am having second thoughts. It will not be this week either way and therefore I have time to think and find out if the ladrones are still causing problems. Que lastima!

I have to give a speech in Spanish (of course) on Friday about the Quitus people who lived here before the Incas and Spanish. I need to write it tonight and practice tomorrow. I really hope that a second full night of sleep with make my mind function well. I did wake up thinking is Spanish, which is not that unusual when all you do is speak it. Well, another tie for Ecuador who had way more chances to score and should have won with 3 or 4 goals. What a strange game?

I am in the internet cafe that hates my pictures but I don´t feel strong and don´t want to walk more. I promise you that there is no way to gain a lot of weight here unless you stay indoors, because I walk everywhere...even when we take busses I still get in miles each day. I hope that it pays off and I can have that girlish figure that I really want - ;)

Today we went to the Cima (Apex) de Libertad (uh...Liberty) where there is a museum of the history of the independence of Ecuador and Quito. It has an amazing view, higher than anywhere else that I have been but the clouds came in with a good sized storm and boom....cold, wet, & tired. Our guide reluctantly walked us around but he was like some military guy and didn´t even know the date for their independence (he was within 2 years). Thankfully, I had my current teacher Laura and she knows tons about everything. She essentially gave me a tour after the tour in Spanish that I can understand. The other guy slurred his words and seemed uncertain....hmmm....wonder why?

At any rate we jumped back on the bus and went back across the city to the school. Today I learned so forms for common expressions and had to practice them. It was pretty difficult. We also talked about intonation and she told me that sinafelas and enlaces are used mainly in poetic type literature. She said is would be too difficult to understand each other otherwise...For me, it cleared up a lot. She also cleared up the idea that while there are normal intonations for sentences and questions, circumstances and the individual will use different forms for the language. (If you don´t understand this part, its Spanish Ed major friends will understand)

So because the city is surrounded by mountains the pollution at times can get bad...I mean, where can the wind blow it....into another mountain? Anyway, the storm I think is helping because it feels like a cool, mountain air day now and very fresh. I am happy with the the fresh air, and wish that I could enjoy it more. I will get pictures up sorry....

Buenas noches.

Still weak...

So, this morning after laying in bed for about 12 hours, I felt much improved. But this afternoon, I started feeling bad, I have a temperature and our excursion was to the top of a mountain and arainstorm has come in to the city. In other words, I am cold and weak....I need medicine and sleep. I will post later if I feel up to it, but I am frustrated with the inability to upload pictures at the internet cafe near my house.

Note to those who will travel...bring cough drops...I cannot find ANY!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Well...I think that I am officially under the weather. My head hurts and is warm and my throat still is bothering me. I think that Alex gave me his was in the throat as well and I think the smoke filled room perhaps contributed to the whole thing. Ah well...I just need to be well by Saturday morning...7am.

We leave for the Anaconda wrestling tournament Sat and return the following Friday PM. I will try once again to post some pictures for everyone...I am going to bed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Santo Diego - Pics

This is the Tuesday, NOPE...Thursday picture try.

Anaconda Wrestling

I meant to post this earlier...

I leave for the Amazon this Saturday to wrestle anacondas, see beautiful waterfalls, give gifts to Indian children, get really wet...and dirty, and learn about a crazy, hot, wonderful place outside of my previous experience. Keep me in your prayers!!

I am also open to any anaconda wrestling advice. Feel free to give me yours thoughts and techniques. :)

Iglesia de Santo Diego

So today I have a new teacher for this week, named Laura.

This afternoon we went to the church of Santo Domingo, which houses nuns, a primary school & a secondary school. The church is under restoration and there are murals that simply cannot be fixed, but all in all there were many beautiful pictures and staues throughout this church. Unfortunately, no pictures can be taken inside and thus all I have is from outside. One interesting thing inside the church is that there is a hidden passageway to the right of the altar in the main chapel area and to get there you have to push a huge stone looking thing which has to wigh a ton, but is easily moved. Ingenuity at its finest...makes me wonder if we could create something like that now.

I dont think that I mentioned before how many things are made of volcanic rock here but there are many volcanoes, some active, in Ecuador and the rock is smooth and hard and great for floors. Many old churches and govt. buildings have this kind of stone for the floor and at times the walls or other things. In the church today, I found out that parts of it date to the 1500´s while other parts the 1700´s and 1800´s respectively. Of course I am hearing all of this in Spanish so it could have been finished last year. ;)

There are many people online and I think this is the reason that my pictures will not upload...a few more tries and then you will have to wait...sorry. Well....after 4 will have to wait.

One other thing that I was going to post a picture on is the graveyards, mainly above ground and there are thousands...I have few pictures and will TRY to get them uploaded...

Food, Folks and Fun

Yesterday afternoon, we watched the futbol (soccer) game with the brother in law of Sr. Gutierrez and Ecuador was the huge underdog. With some luck and perserverance they were winning 1-0, much to the delight of everyone with less than a minute to go. Well...actually, the game was over, but in soccer they add time for ïnteruptions¨and for this reason, there was still time left when Argentina kicked a tying GOOOOOAAAAAL! But in soccer, there are not tie-breakers apparently and th game ended. Which was really sucky because it was a huge deal to everyone here in Quito.

Unfortunately, I was in the room with 4 other men with an average age of 65 and all but myself and Sr. G were smoking....a lot....because of nerves. So last night my throat hurt and today as well. I just found some medicine in my emergency pack and I hope that it helps. It stinks to have a scratchy throat, but it has definitely reinforced my belief in not smoking.

Apparently, Rum and Coke is the drink of choice when watching a Soccer game with older guys. It was wierd because after lunch all of the girls went to another room to watch the television while the rest of us guys were in the living room. We watched the game on a 20-24 inch television, tube. What a different experience from home!

At any rate, I did not take my camera to the house, but it was fairly large, having three stories, a living room (with a huge painting of a winged, naked woman?), a dining room, a kitchen, at least 4 bedrooms, a tv room, a sitting/computer room, and two bathrooms on the main level. Pretty stinkin´huge. Keep in mind that the rooms are way smaller than most of ours in the US.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quick Post

So - today we are going to watch Ecuador vs. Argentina in an important soccer match. Ecuador is presumed to lose, but wouldn´t it be cool to see them win. I hope so...never-the-less, I have to cheer with fervor. :)

Yesterday, we went to a mall, or centro comercial, and it was almost identical to the US. The music was modern, in English and popular in the US right now. The stores had everything and more that a US mall would have. AND just as I need to avoid spending too much time there because the prices are so similar.

Last night I found out that I had a problem of communication. The daughter of Sr. Gutierrez is both married and the boy is her son. I thought that it was the son of his son that lives in New York. Everyone had a good laugh and then we looked at each others pictures... I think the rest of the family is beginning to warm up to this crazy foreigner. Until later, buenos dias!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


This was the day that the Gutierrez family took me to a point with an amazing view of the city of Quito. Unfortunately, there were many clouds that obscured an amazing scene. Here are some pictures of the day.

1. Sr. Gutierrez at his home.

2. Sam, Alex and Marisol with Quito behind us.

3. Statue of the Virgin (Mary).

I finally found a location with internet that would accept my here are the events of the day so far. I am kinda tired as I stayed up watching a movie in my room, Tombstone, and have been running all morning. Tomorrow PM I am going with the Gutierrez family to his brother in laws house to watch the Ecuador vs. Argentina soccer game. It is an exciting day, but Ecuador is expected to get crushed. None-the-less, I will be cheering ECUADOR! ECUADOR!...only partly because I might not make home otherwise ;)

I also was able to take a short video of the panoramic view of the city from the Panecilla and it is just amazing how much you can see! Unfortunately it is way too large of a file and so I will not be posting it.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Well...its finally the weekend. Wow...I have only been here 3 days but it seems like a week. Pehaps because I only have 5 of 6 weeks left. But, I am enjoying myself and learning what it means to watch your belongings and be careful of yoru surroundings. I stick out like a sore thumb. BIG, WHITE, TALL...I am surrounded by an average height of 5 ft. 2 inches with dark hair, brown skin, and dark eyes. And everyone in the city seems to be cautious of the others, especially at night. I really need to make a friend to hang out with so that I can feel a little more secure when I leave.

My host family is nice, but I seem to always eat alone. I guess I am like a renter. I am not sure where the family goes, but they seem to be back around 8:30pm usually. Reina, the live-in cook is always there and at least that is nice. She yells at me SAMUEL, ALMUERZO....or CENAR. Anyway, it is good and I am becoming a local...a big, tall, white local. :)

Tonight I ate pork, I think, with home-fried potato chips, rice, 1/2 an avocado, a glass of pineapple juice (the regular), and a bowl of some sort of green broth that tasted like chicken broth. Every dinner has a bowl of soup and every breakfast a bowl of fresh (peeled) fruit. I am quite full, but I have not had a normal cup of coffee since I arrived and I am going to go next door and try a coffee shop.

I am sorry, this computer will not let me load my pictures. tomorrow then.

Tim Russert

This is unrelated to my trip, but I always enjoyed Tim Russert and thought he was fairly balanced. I am saddened by his death and will miss seeing him on the television. I think that there is not a single political interviewer on television that can fill his shoes. :(

Middle of the World

This morning I went to the Mitad del Mundo...middle of the world, where the ecuatorial line runs through Ecuador and nearest to Quito. I saw some interesting things:

- An egg that can stand on its end.
- Water that goes down a pipe from a sink, without swirling.
- An Quechua kitchen and home.
- A guy dressed up in some crazy outfit and it was stinkin´ hot there.
- A bunch of animal heads on walls and doors.

I also learned that my Spanish must be improving because I understood a spanish speaking guide, fairly well...and let me tell you, the dude was like super-speedy-talking guy. I also just finished my first authentic Ecuadorian meal, chicken, rice, and beans. Not sure what else there was in it...and not sure that I want to know. :) I then bought more of my favorite bread and finally, an inexpensive but nice watch. I never know the hour here unless I am in my room at the house.

My climbing and hiking friends: I found out that there is a trolley up the mountain near the school and I will try to get up there in the next week. Pictures to be posted, claro!

So far I have been very safe but the more that I am out with teachers or talking with Sr. Gutierrez, the more I feel the need to be cautious with my backpack and myself. No incidents and I hope none to come, but the key is to be cautious with yourself and your stuff. I will post pictures later...

OH, I took pìctures today of the live Cuy animals. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dia 2 - Pic Otra

This is the large cathedral in Quito, but was only finished in the 1980´s. It is beautiful inside and the floorplan is in the shape of the cross. The day was again beautiful with lots of sunshine and beautiful vistas. I learned that Ecuadorians often go to church out of obligation but that there is a growing Protestant population here. I am hoping to find a protestant church to attend this weekend and to see how their services compare to ours in the US.

Dia 2 - Pic

Pictures from Dia 1

This is an older church right next to the school. In fact, I took the picture from the terrace on the roof of the 7 story school. I find it beautiful and the Andes mountains are to the left...these pictures take forever to load so I am going to be mindful of which ones to put online.

What do you think?

Day 2, por la manana

I am about to leave on an excursion to the old district of the city. I promise to take pictures, and tonight I will go to the local internet cafe and publish the new ones here.

Today I have freedom. I have keys to the house and a map of the city. When I am done with the tour I plan to take advantage of the time and will write and contact home. With the problems of the trip, I burned up my calling cards and so will need to use Skype or get another card. I am well and have managed to handle the altitude, the food, and the language better than I expected.

Hoy, hace mucho sol. This means that today is sunny. And beautiful. I keep looking across the city at the Andes and feel the drive to climb...but not today. The weather is warmer than I expected because it has not rained. As a result, I think that I am a shirt or two shy of warm weather, not T-shirt clothing. Perhaps I will find a roperia and solve this problem.

Muchas gracias para su apoyo. Hasta luego.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My first day...

So, for those of you interested in studying Spanish...if the first day is any indication, this is the place for you. I have not spoken a complete English sentence in 30 hours. My morning was dictated by an instructor named Norma. She has been teaching for a long time at the language school and this puts her in the upper middle class at the minimum.

OK...some things are crazy here. The gasoline is less than $2.00 per gallon. The bread items that I got for lunch were $0.40 and $0.15 cents respectively. The bottled water was little more. AND the bread was SO good. AND I spoke to the vender to buy it.... in Spanish.
My hiking friends will definitely appreciate the pcitures that I hope to post tomorrow. THis city of 2 million people is nestled in between both sides of the Andes mountains in a valley....the valley is at an elevation of 9000 ft!!!

I spent the afternoon with Norda, a different instructor, at an art museum, bought a picture/poster (future spanish class), and walked. Oh...did I mention that I walked...A LOT! I promise that if I weigh more when I return than when I left, you have my full consent to kick the snot out of me. I probably put in 4 miles today at least....and this was up...and down...doging cars...

NEW TOPIC: Ecuadorian roads are like a crack induced version of Frogger. Every care decides that two lanes are better than one and continuously sway between them...dodging people, cars, dogs, busses, and me (yea I realize that I am a person, but it is more dramatic this way). Seriously strange is the fact that 1) there are stoplights and 2) rarely are they obeyed. I was in my host family´s car tongiht and we decided that the red was an irudescent color of green....zoom....straight on through.

In spite of the weather declaring rain, the sun came out and I think that I am a little pink. It heated up into the mid 80s for sure and I felt toasty. But the sun went down and the temp dropped about 20 degrees. Very strange but very cool... (yea...pardon the pun)

A last note: to those that have sent e-mails and posts, funny or interesting, THANK YOU. It makes home easier to remember and helps me enjoy my down time. Hasta manana.


So for all of you that are wondering. I made it!!!

The hosting family is nice and the weather has become beautiful on this first day of learning Spanish. I am homesick and yet excited about the trip. The Andes mountains are everywhere, beautiful, and I so want to go and climb them. I will try to get some pictures fromt he terrace this PM and post them as able.

BTW...take headache medicine when you are trying to learn or improve Spanish through the immersion method.

Paz afuera!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Passport ARRIVAL!

So FedEx was way late due to weather, but I could care less now. My passport is in hand!!!!

I am leaving on the 3:40pm to Quito and will try to write later as able. A quick thank you to everyone who has helped me with/ through this situation. I will post as soon as I can.

Voy a Ecuador!

The Troubles Continue

So it is now June 10th, and I am still in Miami.  American Airlines told me that they would have my passport on a flight from St. Louis to Miami and I waited patiently, anxiously, for the passport to arrive.  This was the second time that my hopes were dashed waiting for the promises, broken promises, of the AA people.  It seemed so simple.

Thankfully my dad is gracious and kind.  He drove over immediately, picked up my passport physically, probably broke some land speed records trying to get to FEDEX and now I have been tracking a passport that is soon to arrive.  

My recommendations are:

- NEVER lose your passport.  It is TOO expensive to replace quickly and TOO difficult to deal with airlines, especially when they are fighting rising gas costs and understaffing.

- When in troubles, spend the extra $10-15 for a business-oriented hotel, like my plug for the Wyndham.  They have been helpful, friendly, the rooms are clean & contain nice amenities.  I slept well, was provided some much needed tolietries (mine are in Ecuador right now) and have been able to get answers to questions that I have had from flight times to how Fedex works at this hotel. (

- When stuck dealing with airport problems, drink water more than soda or coffee, except in the morning as the coffee will help.  :) You will feel better and your body won't freak out too much.

Monday, June 9, 2008 people in our nation don't have maps...

With a nod to the information that I learned from Miss South Carolina, I wanted to keep everyone informed of US geography and where I am right now.  Hopefully I will leave this hispanic culture for another soon. 

The Troubles

For all of you fans of my travels, it would be important to give you an update.

The Spanish language is spoken much faster MIAMI!  

Unfortunately, I lost my passport, it was found in St. Louis, supposed to be sent here this morning, but the right guy was not reached.  Red Roof Inns are not that nice I found out. :(
Now I am assured that the passport will arrive tonight, but unfortunately, the flight to Quito 
leaves before that.  

SO another day in Miami, learning the language, checking out the customs, trying the food. :)

My plan now that I have had sleep is to find a good breakfast, with strong coffee, and work on the internet and on my left over class work.  God knows I have the time now.  I will try to update everyone later.  

Sunday, June 8, 2008

First Stage...

My cut and paste option is not working so I will just say that:

I am in Miami, Florida.

Starbucks can only overcome no sleep for so long and then the body succumbs to tiredness.

I hear more Spanish spoken in this airport than English.

Approximately 2 hours to flight take off to Quito!!! 

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Map

32 Hours 'til Launch

32 Hours and Counting Down...

These last three weeks have been a whirlwind.  For those that do not know, I have been taking to intensive education classes back to back 4-5 days for 2 weeks.  I have learned a lot and been challenged to be a better teacher, but shoot, can we do this next time over at least 1 month...per class. :)

So here I am, counting down the hours until I take my American Airlines flight to Ecuador, or Endor, or South of the Border...WAY SOUTH!  I am excited, but nervous.  This trip will be challenging, eye-opening, lonely (at times), extended, and holds risks, some of which I only realized in the last month.  BUT I feel the anticipation of doing something new and challenging, of being the bearer of stories from exotic lands that most will never see.

I have not been very faithful in writing in this blog, but as the internet access allows, I plan to at least write regularly while I am away and will post pictures as I can.  I appreciate your support and would love to hear from all of my friends from here in the States.  So please drop me a note and keep me in your prayers.