Posts Tagged ‘Quito’

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Hilary: 6 months has come to an end

December 30, 2011

So I am back in the United States after a twelve hour plane journey from Quito to Chicago I was picked up from the airport by the lovely Kendal Ann (Cupcake) and my mom.  I found my self stuttering with English and thanking the people that got me through customs in Spanish.  It is always great to come home, but weird at the same time.  I had a really wonderful experience abroad.  I am most proud of my language improvement and my academic work,  this study abroad program has advantages and disadvantages but i know that my monograph with serve me very well for future research proposals and grants.  I will miss saying ‘buen provecho’ and ‘que te vaya bien!’  I will be practicing my Spanish every chance that I get and I will hopefully stay in contact with the wonderful friends that I made.

Reflecting on my experiences I am bringing back a better sense of what sharing is, the knowledge that money really doesn’t matter (this one is hard to find in the states and in my perspective needs a lot of reflection), and i recognize that time moves quickly wherever you are so go with your gut and enjoy yourself.

I am still standing on both feet trying to find my balance in life; balancing the spiritual with the physical and mental, the spiced with the bland, peace with chaos, and work with play.

I missed all of my friends and family dearly, I can’t wait to truly reconnect and put my changing link back into my growing circle.

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Chelsea: Why is everyone speaking English?

December 20, 2011

I am officially back at home in Illinois!

Last week my parents came to visit me in Ecuador – and despite some major problems with flights, we had a great week!

After finally picking them up at the airport, we headed back to stay with my host family in Quito! On Saturday, we went with my mom & brother around to different sites in Quito – we visited Mitad del Mundo (the Equator), the Basilica, and the historic center and on Sunday headed 2 hours north to Otavalo to visit the artisan market and the impressive waterfalls in Peguche. I had a great few days showing them my daily life in Quito and translating the conversations between my two families! We also visited my school on Monday and went up the mountain in a cable car. 

On Tuesday, we left for the Galápagos Islands to take a 4-day boat tour of a few of the northern islands. We had a fantastic trip! We visited a few islands, but got to see sea lions, giant tortoises, lizards, iguanas, crabs, and penguins and snorkel with sea lions, tropical fish, jelly fish, and sharks! An amazing experience with beautiful scenery and playful animals. We stayed on a small boat with only 5 other people and had a great time getting to know our boat-mates from Canada and Germany!

When we got back on Friday, we spent a final night with my family in Quito and went to La Ronda in the historic center to walk around, listen to some music, and drink some warm wine to celebrate my dad’s birthday!

Unfortunately on Saturday, we got delayed leaving Quito over 6 hours which caused us to miss our connection in Miami. After much time spent in the airport, we finally flew out (luckily) early Sunday morning and got home at about 4:00am…our bags got home over 30 hours later. But, despite the travel headaches, it was a fantastic last week in Ecuador and it feels good to be home! It’s weird hearing only English, throwing toilet paper in the toilet, and not eating rice everyday…but overall, it’s great to be home with a tiny bit of snow & I’m excited for the holidays! 

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Sara: Last day in Quito

December 8, 2011

So these are my last days in Quito and Ecuador.  I moved back from Otavalo last Saturday and had the opportunity to meet my dad’s boss (the one from the U. S.) and he gave me a bunch of goodies from my parents which was awesome!

But, here in Quito I have finished my paper, turned out to be a total of 40 pages and I get to present everything I have learned from my internship on Friday, which should just be super fun. Then I fly out of Quito at 8pm on Saturday, I will be spending the night in the Peru airport for a 10-hour layover and then off to Bolivia on Sunday morning.  Once in Bolivia I will have to get a visa and another plane ticket to Cochabamba where my volunteering will take place.

I can’t believe this has all gone by so fast, but yet I have one more part of my journey to complete! I hope everything is going well back at home and I miss everyone tons, also I attached a few pictures of my last days here just for fun! 

Taxilago on our way back to Quito Last night in Otavalo The hummingbirds for the festival Me and my host family in Quito 

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Chelsea: Thanksgiving in Quito

November 27, 2011

I spent this weekend at “home” in Quito with my family – all in all, it was a fantastic weekend and just what I needed 🙂

On Thursday, our school held a Thanksgiving celebration for all of the students here. It wasn’t quite the same – but it was a nice thought and a great time to reunite with friends. It was held in a nice banquet room and everyone brought a dish to share! I attempted to make apple crisp, and despite a few different ingredients, it surprisingly turned out better than expected! Right after eating a lot (mashed potatoes and turkey!!! …and some not-so-traditional Thanksgiving food), the music started and I was grabbed to dance as I was still chewing dessert! Quite the change from the sweatpants and football game. So, we danced the night away and had a lot of fun!

The Thanksgiving feast!

My family definitely rocking the dance floor 🙂

The next morning there was a band competition between the neighborhoods here, that of course started at 5am right behind my house! A little later, at a normal hour, I went with my aunts and the kids from the daycare to go watch! It was a lot of fun, especially dancing with the little kids – adorable 🙂 And, our band won so we were even on the news that afternoon!

Also, later that night around 8:00, there was an Earthquake in Quito! It happened about 45 minutes from us and was magnitude 4…and I definitely felt it! My whole house shook for almost a minute – such a weird feeling!

Yesterday, I attended a “school program” for my brother Pablo. I was expecting a meeting at the school…and that was definitely wrong. We went to one of the students’ houses and basically had a party! We all danced (even the YMCA), played some intense musical chairs (where you eliminate chairs, but just sit on other people), tug of war (with a pool in the middle), and more dancing! So much for just the afternoon – we were there for about 7 hours (1 of which was the actual “meeting” of the parents between dances)

…musical chairs 🙂

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend here at home in Quito. Now, I’m heading back to Latacunga for my last week of my internship and on Friday, I’ll be back in Quito for my last week of the program! I absolutely cannot believe I will be home in just 3 weeks – this semester has flown by so fast! I’m excited to see family & friends and be home for the holidays…but I’m definitely not ready to leave Ecuador nor return to reality…

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Chelsea: Bye Bye Quito

October 24, 2011

his is the first blog post I write with tear-filled eyes…

Unfortunately, I leave Quito tomorrow morning…and with that I also leave behind many friends and a wonderful family. Although I will be back throughout the next couple weeks, it’s starting to set in how little time I have left here and I can already feel my heart breaking!!

…here’s a recap of the weekend:
On Friday, I finished my last day of class with an essay and presentation! After classes I was able to finalize all of the details for my trip to Peru (which I leave for this Friday, ahh!) and spend time with some friends! That night, I went with two friends to La Ronda, a more historic part of Quito which is beautiful at night! We ordered hot chocolate and huge empanadas (that are incredibly delicious) that we couldn’t even eat half of – definitely should have shared. Afterwards, we walked around the streets a little bit, went into a few shops, and just enjoyed the beautiful night!!

On Saturday, my brother had classes all day to make up for a vacation day next week (how horrible) and my parents had to work in the morning. But, afterwards we made chocolate chip cookies – unfortunately they turned out a little bit flat, but I still managed to sneak a bit of cookie dough to eat. I spent the afternoon with my family and then went out (at 4:00, haha) with my friend Liz and a few of her Ecuadorian cousins here. After getting a little lost (I was glad to know that Ecuadorians too got lost here!!), we arrived at a high school dance…no joke. But, it was actually a lot of fun! Here, you can buy alcohol and smoke inside – so it was a little different atmosphere, and it wasn’t all high school kids – it was mostly people our age! Overall, it was a lot of fun and many many hours of dancing!

Today was a great last day with my family! I went with my mom to her job a little over an hour away. Besides running her own daycare, one day a week she works as a psychologist for a school/daycare and today she was holding a conference for parents at the school. It was really interesting and I’m glad I got to attend! Afterwards, we went to a restaurant with the family and I willingly (I even asked!) to try fried sheep’s blood. I know, what has gotten into me? Don’t worry, I’m still freaked out by vegetables on my sandwich. But, surprisingly it was actually pretty good – it just tasted like a spice!!

Afterwards, on the way home, my brother fell asleep on me – it was adorable, and I finally feel like I now have a younger sibling! Then, we came back home and my mom and I fell asleep on her bed watching Finding Nemo…totally precious. As we were making dinner, my mom and I were talking…and this turned into crying. My mom has such a big heart and really considers me her child! It was super sad to realize that I’m actually leaving tomorrow, but luckily I’ll get to come back! Later, I watched a little bit of Willy Wonka with my brother and he read me a Franklin the turtle book, which definitely took me back! 

…now, I’m avoiding packing! It’s hard to pack up again, not knowing what to expect. Although it will be hard to be totally by myself and not see my friends anymore and to move in with a new family, I know that it will be an equally interesting / fun experience! So, here’s to starting a new chapter of my life here in Ecuador, that is if I ever get packed…

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Hilary: Looking forward…and backward

October 23, 2011

Today I find myself in the middle of the last Saturday in Quito before I start a six-week internship on Monday!  I have enjoyed my time in here, but I am ready to say chau, hasta luego!  For I know it will be all too soon when I am back in Quito on a Saturday preparing for my flight home.

On Monday, I am moving to Cotocachi, north of Quito by about 2 hours and about 20 minutes away from one of the world’s biggest artisan markets in Otovalo.  I will be living in Cotocachi and working in a school called, Nascota Puento, in San Pedro (about 15 minutes by bus).  I will be living with Marcia Tapia, a very experienced and influencial teacher at the school.  For the six weeks, I will be teaching English and helping the English staff plan a better English program.

My goals for this program are for the English curriculum to be: relevant to the students, the families, and the community; for the English to be of a high quality (yes vague, but I don’t feel I’m qualified to extrapolate); for the classes to be interactive, dynamic, and sequential; and for the program to be open, flexible, and adaptive for the future.

It’s been real Quito; my favorite things to do:

  • Going to the teleferico and climbing pichincha
  • Going running in the Carolina (big park)
  • Dancing to live music (rare, but it happens)
  • Shout out to the salsa club Mayo 68, excellent music, great dancers, safe and friendly place!  It is in the Mariscal, but its all locals!
  • Eating breakfast at the Colombian pan store just down the street
  • Listening to the music on the buses
  • Watching free Andean dance shows
  • Getting serenaded by guitar trios
  • Drinking candelasos in la ronda (A candelaso is a hot drink kind of like a cider with sugar cane alcohol)
  • Running into people who recognize my dreads but never my name
  • Watching telenovelas with my host-mom in her bed when I don’t want to go out
  • Only paying 25 cents to go all the way across the city
  • Walking through the Artisan markets
  • Meeting Mari at the supermaxi in Cumbaya
  • Forgetting how to speak/write in English
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Chelsea: Cuenca & Quito

October 20, 2011

I’ve had a great past week here in Ecuador! After classes last Friday I flew with two friends to Cuenca, a city about 6 hours south of Quito. After a quick flight (35 minutes in the air!), we landed in Cuenca and had the night to walk around the beautiful city! It seemed a lot like Europe to me and was so much cleaner and youthful than Quito!

An incredible sunset from the airplane – definitely a sign of a fantastic trip to come!

The beautiful city of Cuenca!

Overall, a fantastic weekend in Cuenca! We ate at a few good restaurants, walked around the city (it felt so good to finally be able to walk again, because we rarely get the chance in Quito), visit an incredible art market (Cuenca is known for its art, ceramics, and jewelry), and go out dancing with some Cuencanos that we met on Saturday! Unfortunately on Sunday, we had to leave. I definitely want to return – it was such a beautiful city and a fun weekend with friends!

This week is my last week of classes in Quito! I had a final exam in Spanish on Monday and my last essay due tomorrow…but luckily, we had yesterday and today off to write our essay! …and of course, that means time to explore Quito! Yesterday, I went with some friends to walk around Quito a bit. In the afternoon, we went to the Historic Center of Quito and went inside the Basilica! It was absolutely gorgeous and we climbed all the way to the top of the bell tower and steeples…there were a few really scary ladders and steps we had to climb, but we did it and it was a great view!

…off to adventure a little bit more this afternoon before actually writing our essay for tomorrow!

All in all, I can’t believe this is my last weekend in Quito! I’ve become so comfortable with my daily life here and it’ll definitely be hard to leave my family here – they’re already making me sad every time they talk about it! But, it should be a great last weekend here and then I leave Monday for Latacunga (about 2 hours south) to start my internship in micro finances for the next 5 or so weeks! Time is flying by – I can’t believe my time here is already halfway over!

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Hilary: Beautiful sunset

October 14, 2011

I am sitting in my room writing an analysis about a short story called “la vuelta” or “the return,” it is a very abstract story and I need to write my final Spanish paper on it…  Its about 9 pages long and has a lot of colloquial language… goodness!  Anyway, so I was trying to finish this paper, and was longingly looking outside at the mountains that surround this valley city and saw this amazing sunset!

 

It passed within about five minutes, as I type this now the lights of the city keep the sky bright instead of the sun.  Today was an amazing day in Quito, the weather held off, no rain, just sun and a little wind to keep the heat off of our heads.  As I spend more time inside observing classes, schools, and teaching methods I long more and more to be outside listening and learning away from the politically charged classroom.

I have been missing music so much here!  I can’t wait to get back home and sing and play the piano and guitar and just listen to music!  I am so lucky at Lawrence with everything we have there, its amazing how much music has become a strong part of my life since going there.  Tonight I am going to see an Ecuadorian guitar trio, classic and Andean folk music, should be wonderful!!

My Quiteñan lifestyle is ending in about a week!  The time has gone so fast its incredible!  I have two months left!  In the next two months I will be creating and teaching a six week English program, living in Cotocachi, writing a monograph about my experience, visiting Cuenca over a 5 day break, spending a bunch of time in the northern Andean highlands taking day trips to lagoons and lakes and hopefully getting a lot more exercise than I have been here in Quito, and a lot more!

Over the past weekend I visited what is known as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos” or Puerto Lopez and Isla de la Plata.  It was a great weekend!  I went with two girlfriends and we had so much fun bumming around the town, getting to know the local scene, eating delicious ceviche, and seeing amazing sights, like whales, blue-footed boobies, and sea turtles!!  There were many proposals from locals for marriage and so much more, I think next time I go to the coast I will wear a burke and not speak!  I made the mistake of getting up to dance for a few seconds, and then the whole town flocked to the bar, asking to dance and so much more.  I am actually shielding phone calls right now; Ecuadorian men are so persistent!  I just wanted a boat ride; really, you don’t need to come to Quito and visit me, I promise I don’t want to see you again!  Or to solve my problem I will just say that I am married.

 

I need to get back to finishing this paper now; I hope you are all healthy and happy, and enjoying being where you are.  Enjoy the people you are with and the nature you are surrounded by.

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Chelsea: Ants=yummy

October 11, 2011

Last week was just a normal week in Quito! We had a full week of classes, with some time off to write our essay…that’s what I love about school here. With all of our 3 essays (yes, I have to remind myself this is the equivalent of a semester at home) we have time off during the week to work on it (aka explore Quito). So, last week I went to the market and out to lunch a few times!

This weekend was the most adventure-filled, by far! I, along with 9 other girls, went 6 hours to the East of Quito, into the Amazon for the weekend! On Friday, we luckily had the day off from classes, so we had time to travel during the day and see a little bit of the town of Tena at night, which was right on the river and was a peaceful, but lively place!

On Saturday, we set out a little deeper into the Amazon. Our group took an all-day canoe trip that was filled with many amazing experiences! We visited a small museum and animal reserve (with a lot of loose monkeys!!), but my favorite part by far was the walk into the “selva” (rain forest). With rented boots (that saved me), we walked for a few hours around the rain forest with our faces painted with the crushed seeds of a flower that a few communities use to paint their faces / hair. 

The walk was definitely muddy / steep at parts, but with one guide named Panther and the other with a machete, I didn’t feel the least bit in danger! We got to swing on a vine, learn about medicinal plants, chew natural anesthesia that numbed my tongue, snort a liquid from a plant to clear the sinuses (which it did!), and eat ants (picture below). Yes, I ate live ants, that tasted exactly like lemon….and I had seconds. At the time, all of these things seemed quite normal and I did all of them without hesitation, but now looking back, I realize they’re not an everyday thing for most of us!

Later, we ate lunch (a mix of rice and sausage inside a leaf) and had the chance to swim in the Napo River (which connects to the Amazon River). So, after the guide so gracefully jumped into the river from the zipline, I was super excited to try it! Attempt 1 = complete failure. I pushed off (which I found out later I shouldn’t have done), and therefore, my hands slipped and I fell before getting to the river. Luckily, I landed in the one place between rocks and trees that there was soft sand 🙂 (don’t worry, there is a video. definitely AFV-potential) But, I’m happy to report attempt 2 was much more successful – and a lot of fun, just a bit of a shock once you land in the river with such a strong current!

After our long day, we ate at a delicious Italian restaurant that had 2 sloths just crawling around the walls 🙂 The next morning, we headed a few minutes north and explored some caves! We got to walk through these caverns (and through some tight passages that made me glad to be “fun-sized”) and swim in the lagoon & waterfall within the caves – definitely a surreal experience!

Well, off to classes! This is my last full week of classes, since we have another essay due next week. Next week is my last week in Quito before leaving for my internship in Latacunga, 2 hours south. Can’t believe I’ve already been here so long! But, I’m excited for my last 2 weeks in Quito, to start my internship, and for some exciting trips I have planned.

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Chelsea: It’s 5 a.m., let’s pray!

September 27, 2011

Good morning to all!

I can’t believe it’s already Tuesday. It was a great weekend, but went by way too fast .

This weekend I stayed at home for the fiestas in my neighborhood, San Isidro del Inca. From my understanding, each neighborhood here has its own weekend of festivals in celebration of their “virgin”. This weekend my neighborhood was celebrating La Virgen Mercedes, which basically means 3 days of non-stop activities, music, and dancing! I’m glad I stayed in Quito for it, it was a lot of fun and interesting to see some unique traditions! 

The week before the festival, there is a special prayer service of the rosary every morning…at 5:00am. I went with my family on Friday and Saturday morning, and I’m glad I did! It was a little dark/chilly, but a very different experience! Everyone meets at the church, holding candles, and a big crowd walks the streets of the neighborhood praying/singing the rosary for about an hour. The steep streets and darkness make it a little more interesting, but I really enjoyed it!

I live right across the street from the church, which is where everything took place – so it’s safe to say I was right in the middle of the action. From Friday – Sunday, there were people selling arts & crafts, all types of food and drink, and bands and dancers everywhere! I loved seeing representations of native dances and hearing all of the great local bands play! It was a mixture of rain and sun this weekend, but that didn’t stop any of the festivities!

On Saturday and Sunday, I watched a lot of traditional dances and tried some new foods/drinks, including a few drinks made from varieties of corn! I watched a lot of the concerts and of course danced a lot myself! The traditional Ecuadorian dance is more of a side-to-side shuffle, so it wasn’t hard to learn…and after a few hours of the same dance to different songs, I think I’ve got it covered! 

Above is a picture from Saturday night from the fireworks! This is in the middle of the church plaza, where there is a circle of “yumbos” (representing the Amazon region) dancing around the firework structure. They brought in probably 5 different structures – a plane, cow, etc. and lit off fireworks….right in the middle of all of the people. Let’s just say it probably wasn’t the safest thing since people had to duck from all of the sparks – but…apparently that’s nothing new! I was alertly watching for an umbrella, a tree, or a person to spontaneously combust into flames, but from what I saw, it didn’t happen! 

Overall, a fun weekend!

For this week, I only have classes Monday & Tuesday and have a class trip Wednesday – Friday! I don’t exactly know where we’re going, but it’s somewhere to the South of Quito to visit local communities and see development and microfinance in action! 🙂

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