Tag Archives: friends

Mis Meses en Ecuador . . .

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Hello there!  While I was out of town the past two weeks, I had an idea to write a post summarizing the events from my months in Ecuador thus far.  I thought it would be fun for me to reflect on my time here and hoped you might enjoy it too!  Here we go!

equatorIn September . . .

  • I arrived in Quito, Ecuador for my 10 month adventure of living and teaching abroad.
  • WorldTeach had orientation for 33 volunteers for four weeks to teach us about Ecuador and how to teach English.
  • four other volunteers and I rode the teleferico up to the top of a mountain in Quito.
  • my host mom, Susy, and I visited the equator and had a wonderful time!

In October . . .pajaro.1

  • I moved to Riobamba.
  • my host sister and I went to my first Ecuadorian soccer game.
  • another volunteer and I traveled to Manta and Isla de la Plata (the beach) and saw the famous Ecuadorian birds called Blue-Footed Boobies.
  • I took my first – of MANY – bus trips.
  • two other volunteers and I traveled to the city, Banos, for one day.

In November . . .

  • I started teaching my first English classes at my school, University of San Francisco.
  • my Spanish classes with my teacher, Cesar, began.

In December . . .chimborazo

  • I spent a few hours with friends from the U.S. in Quito.
  • some friends and I climbed part of the amazing volcano, Chimborazo.
  • I traveled to the U.S. to spend time with family and friends for Christmas and New Year’s.
  • I acted and danced in my first Spanish play – A Christmas Carol.

In January . . .

  • I began teaching new English classes.
  • I went to Esmeraldes (the beach) for a WorldTeach meeting.

dancingIn February . . .valentines day

  • my students celebrated Valentine’s Day.
  • I danced in my second Spanish play – Hawaiian Adventure.
  • I celebrated the Ecuadorian holiday of Carnaval.
  • three other volunteers and I visited Tena (the jungle) and went whitewater rafting.
  • I began feeling homesick and missed family and friends in the U.S. – a lot. 😦

robinsonIn March . . .

  • the students at my school decorated AMAZING Easter Eggs.
  • I had vacation time and took a cruise with my parents.
  • I felt very homesick and contemplated leaving Ecuador early to return to the U.S.  But then . . .
  • I found out that I would be returning to Robinson (the previous school where I taught) to teach fifth grade. 🙂

In April . . .bolones

  • I took a last minute trip with a friend to visit Cuenca (the sierra).
  • my Spanish teacher’s wife, Paty, taught me how to make bolones. (Here is a recipe!)  Yum!
  • I danced in 15 Latin American dances (with the other teachers) for the students at my school.
  • a student, friend and I went canyoning.  Check out this video.  Yikes!

galapagosIn May . . .

  • my friend and I visited the Galapagos for five, incredible days.
  • I visited Loja and Vilcabamba (the sierra).  Read about amazing Vilcabamba here.
  • I began my last teaching cycle and have 30 students – so far.  Yikes!sea lion

In June . . .

  • Oh yeah . . . I can’t write this one yet . . . but you can!
  • What are YOUR plans for June?  Reply to this post because I’d love to hear from you!
  • Plus, I’ll reply to you after reading your comment. 🙂

Vida de Ecuador

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Hola mis amigos . . . . como estan?  In this l-o-n-g post, I have written about 5 activities in my Ecuadorian life.  I wrote from my perspective in the past, present and future.  I hope you can see how things have progressed – and changed – during my time here.  I also think you might enjoy reading about my hope for the future in each category.  So . . . here is the scoop on what is happening in my life in Ecuador these days.  Enjoy!

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  • Pasado: I started Spanish lessons with my teacher, Cesar, at the end of November.  We began meeting 5 days a week for 2 hours each time.  However, since my teaching schedule got busier this past cycle, we only met 3 to 4 days a week. Also, because I had more of a demand with my English classes, I was unable to make time to do Spanish homework. Argh!  I feel that during this time, my growth in Spanish was minimal because I didn’t have time to practice on my own.  However, even without homework, any Spanish conversation is helpful.
  • Presente: Currently, I feel like my Spanish ability is at an early intermediate level.  I can often communicate my thoughts, but lack correct grammar and consistently understanding others when they speak to me – unless it’s really slow, which I love.  Now, I meet Cesar at a restaurant to take my Spanish class.  He and his wife recently opened a seafood restaurant, so it is much more fun to talk with him, his wife and at times (when they will look at me or talk with me), their children.  We still meet 3 to 4 days a week and still have the opportunity to speak in Spanish for about 2 hours.
  • Futuro: I am hoping to be able to (somehow!) make time for more Spanish outside of class.  I spoke with the director of my English school last week about how he learned Spanish.  I was in complete awe of him because he taught himself!  He said that he wrote in a journal everyday, used flashcards when he had a spare moment, and would check his grammar on his own.  Wow!  With that inspiration, I hope to begin a Spanish journal a few days a week and start to utilize flashcards more effectively in order to improve my Spanish communication.

Teachingestudiantes

  • Pasado: Last cycle, I continued to teach two Level 7 English classes each evening (5:00pm and 7:00pm).  I also began teaching a third English class in the afternoons at 3:00pm.  This new class meant that I needed to leave my house at 2:15pm and was gone for the rest of the day – until about 9:15pm.  While I really enjoyed this new class, it changed my schedule drastically to where I had to do all of my planning in the morning before classes – and somehow squeeze in a 2 hour Spanish class. Do you see why I didn’t have time for Spanish homework now?  Yeesh!
  • Presente: During the current teaching cycle, I have the exact same schedule as last cycle.  However, I am slowly learning to manage my time a bit better and don’t feel as overwhelmed with my time outside of class.  In addition, during my two evening classes, I feel as though these classes are by far my favorite students and I truly have enjoyed my time with these new students!
  • Futuro:  With my new (wonderful) students, I am really excited to spend with them and guide them to learn English.  These students really want to learn English and are mature enough to have fun at the same time.  While we have only spent a week together so far, I hope to use the skills I learned from teaching Level 7 during the two other cycles to make this their a great learning experience for my students.  And finally, I have s-l-o-w-l-y figured out how to integrate speaking, listening, writing, and vocabulary into the classroom without feeling like we are zooming from one activity to the next.

Social Life and Making Friendsrafting

  • Pasado: Oh goodness, where do I begin?  Socially, my time in Ecuador has been a definite  growth opportunity for me (that’s a sugar-coated way of saying that it has been difficult).  It has been hard for me to make all new friends and try to get to know people at a heart-level.  Afterall, every person I have met during my time in Ecuador has been new in my life and sometimes that gets overwhelming and exhausting.  Sure it can be exciting too, but making friends is hard work!   Needless to say, I have had some emotional ups and downs in regards to making friends, but have thankfully gotten to know a few great people too.
  • Presente: Currently, my relational “anchors” in Riobamba are a friend of a teacher from school, Soraida, and my Spanish teacher, Cesar.  I see them both on a regular basis.  Thank goodness!  I believe that Cesar and Soraida have become my “anchors” because they show me that they appreciate me and help me feel valued.  They also make me think about life . . . and make me laugh.  🙂 I am quite thankful for these two individuals in my life.
  • Futuro: My hope for myself relationally is to push myself to be slightly uncomfortable and spend more time being social with some of the new people in my life – even at times when I don’t want to.  While this can sometimes be difficult for me, I also know it can be healthy for me in the long-run too.

Travelcactus

  • Pasado:  Before I came to Ecuador, I wanted to travel everywhere possible – whenever I could.  Shortly after arriving in Riobamba and traveling for several weekends in a row, I quickly realized that I did not want to travel as much as I had originally thought.  There was both a craving and a comfort to stay in Riobamba and get to know the city where I was living.  Therefore, I started to minimize my traveling and got to know my “Ecuador hometown” a little bit better.
  • Presente: Recently, I have felt like traveling a little bit more – maybe because I had taken the time during my first few months to get to know Riobamba.  I’m not exactly sure why this desire to travel has been reignited, but it has been nice to explore a few other cities and relax with others during the weekend.  For example, just this past weekend I traveled to Cuenca, an amazingly  beautiful city in Ecuador.
  • Futuro: In the coming months, I hope to travel to some other nearby cities so I can soak in Ecuador a little bit more.  Also, because it sometimes gets lonely on the weekends, it is nice to spend time with other people from WorldTeach on the weekends. And for a BIG goal for my future travel plans, I am hoping (nothing is finalized yet) to take a big trip with a friend from college to the Galapagos at the beginning of May.

Goalsgoal.cartoon

  • Pasado: When I was making my final plans to live in Ecuador for a year, I had many goals for myself.  These goals were to: strengthen my relationship with Christ, travel as much as possible, develop into a creative and engaging English teacher, become fluent in Spanish, get to know as many people as possible and build meaningful relationships with them, and practice “relaxing” more frequently.  While these might sound like hefty goals, I feel like I have been able to address many of them during my time here.  Meet all of them? No. But, work on each of them in various ways?  Yes.
  • Presente: I do not want it to be a secret that things have been very difficult for me over the past month or so.  After the six month mark of living in Ecuador, much of the excitement and novelty that comes with living in a foreign country began to slowly fade.  Relationships back home became more difficult and I started to miss my daily routine in St. Louis.  I miss home – plan and simple.  I have learned that regardless of where you are living, after awhile, life is still life.  We tend to get into the “daily grind” of life wherever we are – even in a country as beautiful as Ecuador.  As I mentioned, I am still working on making the best of my time here, but I am also thankful that I am starting to see glimpses of July 2, which is my return date to the United States.
  • Futuro: In the coming days, weeks and months, I hope to become better at: connecting with others in Riobamba and around Ecuador, stretching myself socially by putting myself “out there” more often, enjoying my students by laughing in the classroom more and making our learning more fun, and speaking confidently in Spanish.

Whew!  You made it!  Thanks for reading through all of that.  Now, I want to hear from you!  What has been happening in your life in the past, present and future?  Share with me.  Please, please, please post a comment and let me know what you are up to these days.  Thanks! 🙂

A Letter to my Dog

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Dear Hannah,hannah

Hello my little friend.  How are you?  I hope you are having a great time at Christina, Tom, and Ian’s house.  I know they are treating you well and I hear that you love to go on walks with them – even in the freezing cold weather!  In this letter, I wanted to tell you a little bit about my time in Ecuador and let you know that I haven’t forgotten about you. 🙂

Since I have been here, I have seen something that I think you will find very interesting.  Oftentimes, dogs get leftover food from lunch for their meals . . . you would LOVE this!  That would mean you would get meat, bread, rice, vegetables, and everything else!  Crazy, huh?  With that being said, however, I still believe that your dog food is the healthiest thing for you – even though your stomach may not want to agree.

Many people have asked me why I didn’t bring you to Ecuador with me.  Even though I walk a lot . . . Ecuador would not be a good place for you.  Cars honk a lot, cars drive very fast, the weather changes multiple times throughout the day, and there is very little grass for you to sniff.  Believe it or not, most dogs go to the bathroom on the sidewalk – which is not your favorite thing to do,  I know.  Also, I am gone from the house a lot each day.  In the mornings, I am usually gone for 3 hours to learn Spanish.  And in the afternoon/evening, I am gone for 7 to 8 hours.  That would leave me very little time to spend with you.  Plus, there are a lot of fireworks in Riobamba and I know the noise would scare you.  Even though I would love to see you, walk with you, and pet you, I still believe that coming to Ecuador without you was the wisest decision.  My heart doesn’t like that, but I will get to see you soon, okay?

playaListen to this!  I went for a run last week and a dog bit my pants leg!  Can you believe that?!?  I was just running by and he ran up and bit my pants!  I couldn’t believe it!  I know you would never do something that, right?  Plus, then I had a strange dog’s slobber on my pants . . . gross!

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the beach!  Here is a picture of some of the friends who were at the beach with me.  Their names are Matt and Sarah.  I bet you would like them because they’re really nice people to hang out with.  Sarah and I went swimming in the ocean and played in the waves.  The waves were HUGE that day and it was fun to learn how to swim under the waves to avoid getting knocked down in the ocean.  Next, I tried boogie-boarding.  It was a great afternoon!

As I mentioned earlier in this letter, I am trying to learn Spanish.  Maybe you could ask Christina, Tom, and Ian to teach you a few Spanish words too.  That way, when I return to the U.S., I can give you commands in Spanish and you’ll understand.  You’re up for some new learning, right?  It will keep you young.  Plus, I strongly believe that you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Remember, I will be back in the U.S. at the beginning July.  I should be back for the Fourth of July, so we can celebrate Independence Day together.  In the meantime, know that I think of you often.   There are a lot of stray dogs here and whenever I see them, I always think of you and what a good friend you are to me.  Continue to have a great time in your new home and I will see you soon, ok?  Chao! (Hey – that can be your first Spanish word!  It means bye!)

Love,

Rachael

(P.S. If you could write a letter to your pet – imaginary or real – what would you say?  Please write a comment to me!)

How to Enjoy Visiting the U.S. after Living in Ecuador for Four Months

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STEP 1: As you make your flight reservation consider your commute to the airport, as well as the time you are to arrive at the airport for an international flight.  For me, I booked my flight from Quito to Houston and Houston to Denver.  Since I am living in Riobamba, I needed to get a ride to Quito the day before because it is a 4 hour ride.  On the day of my trip, my flight left Quito at 7:00am, which meant I needed to be at the airport at 5:00am . . . I am not a pleasant morning person these days. 

STEP 2: Pack lightly For some reason, I often feel the need to fill-up a suitcase – regardless of the size.  With this being said, my suitcase in Quito was 61 pounds . . . airlines allow 50 pounds. It took me four attempts of taking things out until my bag was at a more appropriate weight.  Argh.

STEP 3: Once you arrive in your first airport in the United States, soak in the things that you have missed most – even small things.  As I walked to customs in the Houston airport, I got a drink of water from the first water fountain I saw and immediately filled up my water bottle.  The water tasted amazingly delicious and cold – I loved it!  Remember, in Ecuador, I only drink bottled water because it is not healthy to drink out of the faucet – and come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a drinking fountain in Ecuador.  

STEP 4: When you see family you haven’t seen in four months, be sure to give them a BIG hug and enjoy their presence.  I was fortunate enough to see four family members at the airport in Denver.  Then, I had the opportunity to see more family at my brother’s house in Denver and even more family during my time in St. Louis!  To the left, is a picture of my parents whom I got to see – and hug – at the airport in Denver.

STEP 5: Plan your time wisely – while simultaneously being cautious of not planning too much to overwhelm yourself.  Be sure to spend time with family and friends who show you love, rather than those who you feel like you “should” see.  This was particularly hard for me because there were several people I wanted to see and talk with, but did not have the opportunity to do so during this visit.   However, it was important for me to make sure I had a stress-free schedule, so I could enjoy the days . . . and I even planned a little bit of free time for myself. 

STEP 6: Visit places you have missed during your time away. For me, this included restaurants with food I had been craving, as well as places that make me feel good!  Some of the restaurants I visited were Crazy Bowls and Wraps, First Watch, and Pei Wei – yum!  The place I enjoyed visiting most was Forest Park . . . I love that place!

STEP 7: Sleep well. Of course good sleep makes us all feel better.  In my case, I particularly enjoyed the absence of crowing roosters nearby, which I have gotten accustomed to during my time in Riobamba.   carrito

STEP 8: Love driving – and remember that U.S. driving laws are different that those in Ecuador.  It was so easy for me to enjoy driving because my car is very fun to drive.  Here is a picture of my car one day when there was a downpour of snow.  In addition, one evening as I drove on a main road, I decided that I wanted to go the other way on the road instead.  So, I made a u-turn right in the middle of the road and then thought to myself, “Un –oh . . . I am not allowed to do this in the U.S.  That was totally illegal!”  I’m glad no one was around.  Yeesh.

STEP 9: Continue to practice your Spanish – in any way possible!  Since I was not speaking in Spanish at all during my time in Denver or St. Louis, my Spanish teacher asked me to write a daily journal entry in Spanish.  I felt like it was beneficial to do so after days of only speaking in English.  Also, at church I decided to take notes in Spanish instead of English.  Ha, ha . . . why not try to challenge my brain as much as possible, right?

lizSTEP 10: Enjoy the weather . . . whether it is cold or f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g.  It was really, really, really cold in both Denver and St. Louis.  I did not always enjoy the cold weather, but I tried.  Although, I did absolutely love watching the snow fall and taking a walk with a friend in the cold weather one afternoon.  robinson

STEP 11: Take a lot of pictures!  I took my camera to most of places I visited, which is pretty unusual for me.  Here are a few pictures of some of the people I was fortunate enough to visit during my short time in the U.S.

lesleySTEP 12: Watch TV or movies in English and revel in the fact that you can understand all of the words!  Most people comment that I do not usually pick “high-quality” television shows or movies to watch.  However, I enjoy them and that is all that matters, right?  I had the opportunity to watch part of one of my favorite shows, Hawaii Five-O, viewed the movie, You’ve Got Mail, with a friend, and even went to a movie in the theater!lisa

STEP 13: As the date gets closer for you to return to South America, shop for things you want to take back that you cannot easily purchase in Ecuador.  For me, this included note cards for letter writing, a delicious smelling air freshener, a Spanish workbook, and blank note cards.  I know I didn’t buy anything terribly exciting, but rather a few “wants” for the next six months.

STEP 14: Repack carefully . . . and lightly, if possible.  Believe it or not, even though I left several clothes in St. Louis that I did not need in Ecuador; my suitcase was still too heavy in the airport.  Once again, I had to take things out of the suitcase to arrive at an appropriate weight for my airline.  Blech.

STEP 15: Arrive at the airport in St. Louis on time and be sure that your suitcase is in good, working condition.  As I was unzipping my suitcase to take some of the extra weight out, the zipper popped off.  Fortunately, the man taking my suitcase was very sweet and fixed it with some pliers. 🙂

Now, tell me what you are thinking – please!  Just choose one or two questions – I love hearing from you.

  • What is your favorite “step” and why?
  • What is your “must-do” for a short visit to the United States?
  • What did I forget to put on my “how to” list?

Let’s go to the beach!

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Last weekend, I visited the coast of Ecuador.  Another WorldTeach volunteer, Jessica, and I left on Friday morning and returned to Riobamba on Monday evening.  Long weekends are one of the blessings with having a late start date at our teaching site.  It took 8 hours to get to Manta by bus, but was worth the long ride to experience the beach and the warm weather that goes with it.  Also, I had an amazing day on Sunday, which I will tell you about shortly.  There are two other WorldTeach volunteers living in Manta, Bridget and Angelika.  Just like us, they are staying with host families.  So, we gratefully stayed at the homes of their host families while we were there.

I have to admit this is a picture from the internet, but I wanted you to see what I experienced!

On Saturday, we visited the beach and swam in the ocean.  For those of you who aren’t sure, it’s the Pacific Ocean. 🙂  (By the way, if you would have asked me a year ago what ocean was next to Ecuador, I probably would not have known.)  The beach was fun and I even got a coconut to drink . . . and eat.  Check out the picture.  After you buy a coconut, the vendor cuts the top off with a machete so you can drink the coconut water with a straw.  After you finish drinking, you take your coconut back to the vendor and he cuts it apart and gets out the “meat” for you to eat.  Mmm . . . it is tasty, I must admit.On Saturday afternoon, Bridget and I relaxed at the house of her host family.  In the early evening, we started talking about what activities we could do the next day.  A few hours later – after a trip to an internet cafe, the bus station, and an ATM – we had a day trip planned to Isla de la Plata.  Our plan was to leave Manta on a bus at 4:00AM, so we needed to head to bed early.

We arrived in Puerto Lopez bright and early on Sunday morning after our 2 1/2 hour bus ride.  Shortly thereafter, we found a tour company and bought tickets for our day trip to Isla de Plata leaving at 9:30AM.  You can click on the link to learn more about Isla de la Plata.  However, it is also known as “The Poor Man’s Galapagos Island.”  While the island was wonderful, I have to guess that The Galapagos Islands are much better.  Regardless, we had a super day.

We took an hour boat ride to the island, which was amazing.  I loved feeling the wind on my face and seeing the waves all around us.  Next, we went on hike around the island to see some beautiful and rare birds living there.  There were two species of birds present on the island:  Blue-Footed Boobys and Fragatas.  (As a side note, the name “Booby” is thought to originate from “Bobo” the Spanish word for clown.)  The Blue-Footed Boobys were all over the place!  As you can see from the pictures, the birds were always protecting their young . . . either eggs, day-old babies, or month-old babies.  Look closely at the pictures to find the baby boobys! 🙂

After our hike, we had lunch on the boat and saw some sea turtles.  This is the best picture I could get.  After that, we snorkeled in the ocean.  This was my favorite part by far!  The fish in the ocean were amazingly colorful and beautiful.  Here is a picture of some of the fish when they came to the surface.  Unfortunately, this just gives you a glimpse of the incredible sights I saw underwater.  If you’ve gone snorkeling before, you understand what I mean, I am sure.

Next, we took the boat ride back to Puerto Lopez and headed back to the bus station.  At the bus station we found a bus going back to Manta and embarked on our 2 1/2 hour journey back to Bridget’s house.

There is one last thing I feel you might like to know about some bus rides in Ecuador.  While on the bus, it is quite common for people to frequently get on and off the bus selling food and other items.  For example, I saw  people selling watermelon, pineapple, chicken, empanadas, bread, corn on the cob, water, juice, soda, and jewelery.  So, here is a picture of the corn on the cob I bought.  I figured that there aren’t enough opportunities in my life to buy corn on the cob on a bus, so I decided to take advantage.  Now it’s your turn to answer the following food question.

  • If you were on a bus ride in Ecuador, what favorite food would you most want people to sell  to you?  What would really hit the spot? (Reply to me in a comment please!)

As always, thanks for reading my blog and for being interested in this journey in Ecuador.  Have a wonderful day! 🙂

Last Day in Quito!

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Happy Friday!  Today is my last day of orientation . . . and living in Quito.  Wow!  It is hard to believe that 4 weeks have passed so quickly.  In this post, I will once again tell you about some experiences I have recently had in Ecuador and then share the thoughts I had during and after those events.

Event:  My commute to and from orientation was about an hour altogether.  I took the bus each morning and afternoon and also walked about 25 minutes.

My Thoughts:  First off, here is a view from the back of the bus.  Now you can get an idea of what it looks like. 🙂  This is a very empty bus and doesn´t really give you a true idea of the complete experience.  However, it was interesting riding a bus to and from orienatation each day.  I have never commuted via public transportation on a regular basis.  Overall, I really enjoyed it.  I liked not having to drive or pay attention to traffic.  I also liked feeling like a part of the community, even though I don´t think I was ever viewed that way on the surface.  Sometimes, I would look around the bus and notice that I was definitely the only one that did not have dark, brown hair.  Those were the times I was reminded that I stood out and others definitely viewed me as a Gringa.  What I did not like about the bus were the crowds in the afternoons (seriously, it was body to body) and the need to always be alert to ensure my bag did not get stolen.  Although I never felt as though my bag was in danger, we were remineded several times to hold a death grip on our things in order to be less vulnerable to crime.  This is also why I gave “evil eyes” to others to show them that I was paying attention.

Event: One Saturday evening, the WorldTeach volunteers rented a Chiva Bus.  This bus is also known as a party bus.  It has an open back and holds about 40 people.  The bus drives around town for two hours.

My Thoughts:  I had never heard of such a thing!  I was so confused when the idea was presented to our group.  After asking a few clarifying questions about what we actually did on the bus, I decided to sign-up. 🙂   We met at 6:00pm and the bus drove us around Quito.  The music started, the disco ball began turning, and people started dancing and having a great time!  I found it entertaining that something like this would never be legal in the United States.  Everyone was standing and dancing (without seatbelts – oh dear) and there was open alcohol.  The legal system in the U.S. wouldn´t even know where to begin.  I am glad I went and had a good time talking, laughing, and dancing with other volunteers.

Event: I visited Midad del Mundo (The Middle of the World) with my host mom, Susana.  After spending a couple of hours there, we visited another museum.  Apparently, the second museum (although much smaller than the other one) has the “accurate” equator line as a result of a GPS reading from 15 years ago.  We went on a tour there and had an opportunity to perform “equatorial” activities.

My Thoughts:  I need to be honest here . . . the tourist location where 99% of people go to visit the Equator was big, crowded, and a bit boring.  After visiting for two hours, I was hungry, tired, and ready to go home.   Susana I left the attraction and I was hoping that we were going to lunch.  We walked about five minutes and headed into a museum . . . not lunch.   I was not happy, but did my best to have a positive attitude.  I did not want to visit another museum about the Equator.  (I know I kind of sound like a baby here, but it is how I really felt.)  We got an English speaking tour guide (yee-haw) and began the tour.  Immediately, my negative feelings and bad attitude dissolved.  I absolutely loved the tour.  We had the opportunity to experience the gravitational pull at the Equator.   We watched water drain in different directions, attempted to balance an egg on a nail, and felt the pull on either side of us as we walked in a straight line on the Ecuator.  It was a really great time and I am so glad we went!

Event: Four other volunteers and I took the Teleferico one Saturday.  We rode in a trolley and saw several views of Quito from Pinchincha.  We also got to pet some alpacas!

My Thoughts:  I wish I could tell you the facts about the Teleferico and all of the sights, but truthfully, I don´t know them.   However, what I enjoyed about this experience was twofold.  First, it was beautiful to ride in the Teleferico and see Quito and the surrounding areas from a different perspective.  While it was a little scary, I think that added to the excitement of the experience.  Next, this was one of the first times I had made plans to hang out with other volunteers outside of orientation.  For me, it was comforting to have friends that I wanted to spend time with and experience a new activity with aside from our regular routine.

Event: I found out about my new host family that I will live with in Riobamba.

My Thoughts:  On Wednesday evening, I received information about the family I will live with for approximately 10 months in Riobamba.  It sounds like I have another wonderful family.  There is also a 3 month old baby at the house!  🙂  As I had mentioned previously, it will be difficult to adjust to a new environment and family.  However, it is nice to know that I will live with this family for longer than one month.  It is also exciting to know that I can settle in more and establish a few roots.  I update you as soon as I start to get settled.

Well . . . that´s it for now.  As I´ve said before, if there is anything you are wondering about Ecuador that you would like me to find out for you, please let me know.  I am happy to learn with you.  Until next time, thanks for reading.

Tres Semanas en Ecuador

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Buenas noches.

Some volunteers and I took the Teleferico up to 13,000 feet and saw Quito’s magnificence from a distance, as well as other natural beauty.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!  This coming week is my last full week in Quito.  How quickly the time has gone.  I can hardly believe that I have been in Ecuador for 3 weeks.  I just told a friend the other night that it hasn’t hit me yet that I am living in Ecuador.  Silly, I know.  Maybe that reality will sink in one of these days.  You would think that being surrounded by a different language would help that reality sink in . . . but nope . . . not yet. 🙂

Last week, we began teaching English at a local high school.  I taught three different classes of 13 year-old students.  This has been a huge shift from my previous teaching experience with first and second grade students in the United States.  Plus, I have realized that while WorldTeach is doing a fabulous job in preparing us as English language teachers, it is rather challenging to teach English.  Our language is extremely complex and difficult, to say the least.

Speaking of languages, I am rounding out my fourth and final week of daily Spanish lessons.  Wow – has it been rough!  The other 5 students and I have a fun time together during our daily one hour class.  We also enjoy our teacher thoroughly.  However, our teacher pushes us HARD to learn more vocabulary and verbs, which has been discouraging at times.  I have definitely traveled through some “I will never be able to learn Spanish” thinking over the past few weeks.  With that being said, I ask you to hold me accountable to continue to try to learn Spanish.  I plan to sign-up for a class in Riobamba and your job is to follow-up with me and ask if I’ve done it!  Muchas gracias!

Right now it is difficult to think about my move to Riobamba and starting over again.  One of the hardest parts will be adjusting to a new host family.  I have loved my Quito family and will miss them greatly.  It is amazing to see how our relationship has begun and grown in such a short period of time.  My host family has opened their home to me and fully welcomed me into their family.  It has been a privilege to be a part of this family during my time in Quito.

It is fascinating to think that I am already moving into another phase of my Ecuador journey.  Please keep me in your prayers this week and next as I adjust to the many changes that are coming in the near future.  Please pray for safe travel as many of the volunteers head to their new sites.  As always, thank you so much for your support.  I appreciate it more than you can imagine!

One Week to Go!

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Hello again.  Remember the hard work I projected would take place all of last week? (I needed to pack-up my two bedroom apartment that I have lived in for about 8 years.)  About 75% of my packing took place on Friday night, since I was fully aware that friends were coming to load my two storage units on Saturday morning . . . and they probably wouldn’t be too excited to see an unpacked apartment.  Is that procrastination?  Possibly.  However, I like to think of it as pacing myself . . . and then sprinting to the end. 🙂

The friends that helped were completely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  Seriously.  They were so good that a neighbor asked for their card because she thought they were an actual moving service.  And, check out the picture of the storage units.  It is hard to believe that 95% of my worldly possessions fit inside of there!

Before the packing began, there was some major doubt about whether my things would fit or not.  Granted, from the picture, you can see that my friend in the black shirt is almost as tall as the unit.  Yes, he is tall, however, the limited space still made packing tricky.  The good news is that we conqurered the negativity and now my belongings are so securely packed inside the two units that nothing should fall over during the transport to the storage facility.  Fitting everything in was kind of like a game of Tetris.

Currently, I am living at my brother and sister-in-law’s house for the next week.  This is my new home for 7 days.  How kind of them to let me stay at their house with my niece and nephew, Addison and Tyler.  Tonight, I have the pleasure of sleeping on the floor in my niece’s room while she sleeps in her bed.  She was excited to have me here and I just couldn’t say no to the offer. 🙂

Next Sunday, I leave St. Louis at 6:30AM and arrive in Miami, Florida around 10:30AM.  From there, I will meet up with some of the other WorldTeach volunteers and we will fly to Ecuador together in the afternoon.  We arrive in Ecuador around 11:30PM.  I found out this week that am the “point person” for WorldTeach in Miami.  This means that I am to make sure that all of the volunteers on my flight arrive on time and that we aren’t missing anyone.  I suppose the WorldTeach office must have looked at my resume and saw that I have taught first and second grade and knew that the ongoing counting of students would come in handy for this task.  I hope I can handle it.

I recently found out a bit more about my orientation in Quito.  It will last about 3 1/2 weeks and my host family will come and pick me up at the end of our first day, Monday, September 3.  Think of me on Labor Day, when you are having a barbecue – I’ll be meeting the family I will have the privilege to live with the next few weeks.  Good stuff.

My dad and I are headed to sell my car tomorrow in Independence, Missouri.  The car has been really fun, but, it’s time to say goodbye.  Here’s a picture of my friend Rob in my car.  Believe it or not, this is the only picture I have of my car!  Sorry Rob, you have to be a model for this one. 🙂

I’m not sure if I have mentioned to you that there will be about 30 other WorldTeach volunteers in Quito with me during orientation.  I am excited to meet so many new people.  However, sometimes I get nervous . . . and quiet.  Argh.

  • What tips/advice do you have for me as I meet so many new people in the coming days?
  • What are things you like to remember when you are placed in unfamiliar situations?

I hope to see many of you this week! 🙂