Tag Archives: Riobamba



Well . . . here I go!  Apparently, with only two weeks left in Ecuador, I felt the need to take on a challenge that is very likely I may not complete.  Ready to hear about it?  Let’s do it!

This weekend, I am attempting to summit Mount Chimborazo.  What is Chimborazo?  Well, actually, it’s the furthest point on earth from the center of the earth – higher than Mount Everest – and the closest point on earth to the sun.  If you don’t believe me, check this out.

So, here are the details:

  • Friday, June 21: I travel about 45 minutes to stay and sleep at a hostel, Casa Condor, for the afternoon and evening.  This hostel is about 1000 meters higher than Riobamba, at 2700 meters.  This will allow my body to begin to acclimate to a higher altitude in preparation for the hike.
  • Saturday, June 22: In the afternoon, I am picked up by my guide and we make our way toward Chimborazo. Around 5:00pm or so, we eat dinner and then head to the second refuge on Chimborazo, which is at 5000 meters.  We sleep there for about 5 hours (again, so our bodies can acclimate to the altitude) and begin our hike at 11:00pm.  (Yes, you read that correctly – at night.)  The reason we hike at night is because as the snow is warmed by the sun, avalanches are far more likely.  On top of this, any rock held in place by ice will start its gravity-induced downward journey once the sun has melted the cementing ice.  Nights and early mornings are generally clear, and clouds normally come in by midday, which is another reason to climb at night.  Also, the weather tends to be better during full moon . . .  and guess what?  Sunday is a full moon. 🙂
  • Sunday, June 23: We will be hiking from Saturday evening until early Sunday morning – hopefully.  The plan is to summit, but if I have to stop earlier because of altitude sickness, we will do so.  Optimistically, I will be back down from the summit by 10:00am on Sunday morning.  At that time, I get picked up by the guide company and driven back to Riobamba.

So, what can you do for me?  PRAY, PRAY . . . AND PRAY.  I am looking forward to the challenge – because I do like a challenge – and am excited about the possibility of making it all the way to the top.  Yay!  But also, I pray to have peace if I do not make it to the top.  I pray that I do not feel like a failure and can be happy with myself that I at least attempted the journey.  So . . . please pray for our safety, to enjoy both journeys – up and down, to feel peaceful regardless of the outcome, and to revel in the beauty of this majestic mountain.  I will be in touch next week and let you know the outcome.  Thank you in advance for your prayers. 🙂

Some other volunteers and I "visited" Chimborazo last December.  Little did I know that I'd be attempting to make it to the top several months later.

Some other volunteers and I “visited” Chimborazo last December. Little did I know that I’d be attempting to make it to the top several months later.


Vida de Ecuador


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!

Spanish Lessonscartoon

  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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! 🙂

I love living in Riobamba because . . .


*people give me a kiss on the cheek when they greet me or say goodbye to me.

*when I am walking down the street, I often hear loud music coming from an assortment of stores.

*it is always an adventure when I go running.  Sidewalks have obstacles such as:

metal posts, deep holes, rocks, mud, dog poop, and trash.

*Ecuadorians take such pride in their family relationships that they often live with their parents until they get married.

*I can eat foods like habas and choclo anytime I want.

*most days, I can see beautiful views of Chimborazo and other surrounding mountains.

*I teach English to students from 8 – 45 years old (in different classes, of course).

*I can wear a t-shirt and sandals in February.

*my students love to learn English – on most days.

*a taxi ride is still $1.00.

*sometimes people treat me like a celebrity because I look different (I have a love/hate relationship with this one).

*tea seems to solve all illnesses – or at least many people think so.

*my students have such pride in their country that when a student was taking her oral exam and said that there

were no disadvantages to living in Ecuador, the rest of the class applauded.

*there are parades about once a week and no one seems to clearly know the meaning behind any of them.

*I can walk everywhere.

*the trash truck plays the music we know as the ice cream truck music.  This makes me laugh.

*it is not unusual for me to see horses, sheep, alpacas, pigs, dogs, and cows – in the same day.

*it is not uncommon to see people jump in church when they are singing.

*I can buy a bottle of Coke Zero for 64 cents.

*people strike up conversation with me often, just to be friendly.

*Ecuadorians love to eat ice cream – so it’s for sale everywhere.

*I can travel to the beach in about 4 hours.

*I have started to relax about being on time for things and am beginning to feel comfortable with

being 5 minutes late – even for class because my students aren’t there anyway!

*everyone comes home from work to eat lunch together – and then return to work in the afternoon.

So . . . what do you love about the city where you are living right now? 🙂

Post a comment and tell us two things you love about your city!

A Potpourri of Photos!


I have several photos that I’ve collected over the past months that I would like to share.  I hope you enjoy seeing a wide

assortment of photos in this post.  As always, thanks for joining me on this journey . . . I appreciate it.

chimborazoHere is a picture of me after hiking part of Chimborazo.

This volcano is a beautiful sight in Riobamba and was amazing to hike too!

barcelona game

I went to a Barcelona (from Guayaquil – not Spain) soccer game and LOVED it.  You can see from the picture

how passionate fans are for their team . . . especially the guy who climbed the fence!  How fun!

ile christmasThe school where I teach English went Christmas caroling one evening at a park and at a few other areas in town.

This picture was taken right before we left to impress everyone with our beautiful singing voices.


One day, my school served food to homeless individuals in the Riobamba community.  In addition,

some of the younger students from the school sang Christmas carols.  It was a great day!

holding hands

I promise this is not supposed to be a “butt-shot” of my students.  I simply want you to see how sweet

the Ecuadorian culture is and how oftentimes when girlfriends walk places together – they hold hands.  I love it!

maria cookingMaria is an amazing cook!  Here she is preparing lunch one day.

It was very hard work grinding the plantains and then making soup.  Way to go Maria!


Here is a picture of the classroom at my school.  Yes, there is a post in the middle of

the room.  But surprisingly, the post isn’t quite as distracting as you might think! 🙂

meatballsMy school had a Food Fair in which each class researched a country, made food from the country, and presented

it to others at a celebration.  My class learned about Sweden and did a fabulous job presenting their research.

sweden Here are two of my wonderful students, Jhon and Veronica, from the Food Fair!  Notice the signs in the background too!

bday partyI had the opportunity to attend a child’s birthday party a few weeks ago.  This picture shows the clowns

at the party (very common in Ecuador) lighting the candles on the cake.  Also, I promise the clown on the right

wasn’t as creepy as he looks in the picture . . . the lighting was just at an awkward angle at that moment.

cesar and his family

Here is a picture of my Spanish teacher, Cesar, and his family.

Cesar puts up with my struggling Spanish skills for 2 hours each day . . . poor guy!

caballos For the first time in my life, I went on a horseback riding tour!  How fun!  My friend, Ali, and I went to Banos

(2 hours from Riobamba) and went on a tour up a mountain.  It was great – despite the constant rain! 🙂


During the trip to Banos, we also saw some amazing plants.  Here is one of them!  Cool, huh?


Here is a picture of some meat I saw one day when I was walking down the street.

I had to look twice to see if I was really looking at a cut up pig in the back of a truck.  Blech.


As families in Ecuador decorate their homes for Christmas, many make a Nativity scene like this.

The scenes are elaborate and they are interesting to look at.  This one is at the house of my host family in Quito.


Ecuador is one of the top exporters of flowers in the world.  Every time I have an opportunity,

I enjoy walking past florists on one particular street in Riobamba.  They are beautiful!


Now it’s your turn . . . you have a job!  Please reply by posting a comment below.  I love hearing from you guys!

  • Which picture from above is your favorite?  Why do you like this picture?
  • What would you like to see more pictures of in Ecuador?  I am more than happy to take requests!

Observations from Riobamba



 *you walk into a bathroom and see toilet paper, soap, and paper towels and think, “Wow . . . this bathroom is nice!”

*you learn to say chau, instead of adios, when leaving for the day.

*you wonder what kind of soup you are going to have with lunch because Ecuadorians have soup everyday at lunch.

*you get excited when you have the opportunity to buy a refrigerated drink.

*you see a man peeing on the side of the road and don’t think much of it.

*you look forward to bus trips because vendors get on and off selling tasty food.

*you expect bus rides to cost about $1.00 per hour.

*you pass bootleg video stores on a daily basis and forget how illegial that concept is in the U.S.

*you go on a walk to the park and naturally avoid cows walking on the same sidewalk.

*you look forward to seeing what Chimborazo looks like everyday.

*you kiss people on the cheek when you see or meet them.

*you pay 15 cents to use a public bathroom and think it’s worth it.

*you look forward to promotional saldo days for your cell phone.

*you frequently pack toilet paper in your bag because most bathrooms don’t have it.

*you walk down the street and don’t flinch anymore to avoid dog poop on the sidewalks.

*you get used to hearing people say, “Buenos dias, mi hija.” (Good morning, my daughter.)

*your English class “officially” begins at 5:00pm, but no one shows up until 5:05pm or 5:10pm – and that is normal.

*you get bummed out when you have a $20 bill because no one likes to take large bills.

*you learn how to flag taxis down like a pro.

*you come home from work and look forward to what kind of new, fresh bread is in the kitchen.

*you don’t think twice about using bottled water to brush your teeth anymore.

*you get used to seeing babies and kids in cars, without carseats.

*you are used to putting toilet paper in the trash can, instead of the toilet.

*you haggle with taxi drivers when they try to charge you $1.25, instead of $1.00.

*you learn how to cross the street without getting hit  by a car, bus or motorcycle.

*you aren’t surprised when you see an entire family (dad, mom, and kids) riding on a motorcycle or bike.

I’m a teacher again!


Look at how hard this student is working! She must have a great teacher. 🙂

It’s official . . .  I’m an English teacher!  Weird, huh?  Currently, I am teaching two evening classes and one morning (reinforcement) class (two days/week) in Riobamba.   So far . . . it is great! 🙂

I don’t know exactly where to begin, so I guess I will start with Monday – the first day of classes.  At the beginning of each new cycle, all of the students and teachers met in the school theater.  In the theater, our director, Jim, welcomed everyone to a new session and had a student teach the others about the school rules.  He/She taught these in both English and Spanish.  (As a side note, the rules are a part of the acronym C.A.S.H.  This is for: no cell phones, attendance, no Spanish speaking, and homework.  Easy, huh?)  Next, the students were divided into their language level and sent off with their teacher.  By the time my students and I got to our classroom, we had a little over an hour left (classes are each two hours long).  There are 9 students in my first class and 12 in my second class.  The students’ ages range from about 16 to 30.  And, they are all amazingly engaged in their learning . . . I love it!  The first day of classes we talked about who I was, why they wanted to learn English, did a few speaking activities and then they got their homework.  (I know, homework on the first day!  I am a tough teacher, huh?)  Fortunately, the students in my classes are very proficient in English.  This helps me a lot when I am trying to explain a concept or activity because they actually understand the language!  Yay for Level 7 students!

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I got into a routine of planning for my night classes during the day.  Since my classes begin at 5:00pm, I can spend time in the morning and afternoon planning for the evening.  Around 3:45pm, I leave for the copy center at the school and print my lesson plan and copies for the class.  This is a completely different routine from what I am used to in the U.S., but so far, this routine has been successful.

During English class, the students do a variety of things.  They speak with one another, discuss grammar points, play grammar games, and complete sentences that pertain to specific grammar points.  My personal goal is to keep the students engaged by speaking, writing, and thinking in English during the entire class period.  This is important to me because I believe it is very likely that our class might be the only two hours in the day that the students work on their English communciation.  With that being said, I noticed last week that it was hard for me to create several opportunities for the students to speak for extended periods of time.  Therefore, this has become my personal goal: to work on developing more opportunties for the students to speak in English during class.  Feel free to hold me accountable with this and follow-up with me on how I’m doing on my goal. 🙂

Happy students on Banana Day!

During the last class session each week (we only have classes from Monday – Thursday), I want the students to celebrate their learning from the week.  This first week, we had a theme for the last day of the week: Banana Day.  Some of the students were festive and dressed in yellow to celebrate.  Yay!  But, whether their heart was in it or not, the students were forced by their teacher (me!) to take part in various banana activities such as: Hot Banana (i.e. Hot Potato), writing a creative piece about their banana as a person or animal, describing their banana, reading a story about the history of bananas, and more.  After our banana learning, the students discussed what they learned during the week and then celebrated with snacks.  It was a great way to end the week.

It is very eye-opening to have the opportunity to teach English.  Granted, I know how to speak the language, but teaching the grammar behind the language is a whole different ballgame.  This past week, I was impressed with the knowledge the students have about English grammar.  I understand that these students have learned the languagevery  differently from native speakers, but they can actually identify past participles and the present perfect tense.  Holy cow!  Therefore, teaching grammar points to such intelligent students will be a huge learning experience for me as well.

I am learning that English grammar is not the most exciting of topics for students.  Likewise, as I was writing this post, I was aware that it might not be particualarly exciting for you to read about grammer, class sizes, student activities and so on.  However, I hope I have piqued your interest in something pertaining to teaching English.  If so, please write a comment back to me answering the following questions.  Gracias!

  • What tips do you have for me to meet my goal to help students speak more in class?
  • What would you like to know more about related to teaching English to non-native speakers?
  • What would be the hardest part for you to teach English in Ecuador?

Thoughts from Ecuador


Meet my “host nephew” Gabrielito. He is so much fun! How could you resist this face? Muy guapo, si?

I noticed it’s been awhile since I’ve posted thoughts about my time in Ecuador.  I know I’ve recently written about a couple of great trips I’ve taken, but that’s just “stuff,” not what is really going on inside of me.  So . . . here you go – your glimpse inside my head and heart.  Proceed with caution. 🙂

I have been in Ecuador for a little over 8 weeks . . . that is a long time!  It’s hard to imagine that it’s been about two months since I’ve seen family, friends, my dog . . . and been able to drive.  While I miss those aspects of my life, my brain has been working to try to make sense of my current life and the new experiences here.  It’s strange being in a place where I feel comfortable and life feels familiar because of my routines, but yet it is all so unfamiliar at the same time.  Most everything is new and I’m not sure my brain knows how to process all of this yet.

I was thinking the other night about how I got here.  Meaning, how I got to the point in my life where I wanted to live in another country for an extended period of time.  Here’s the brief overview.  After visiting Central America several times in the past few years, I started to notice a passion inside of me for the Latin American culture and the possibility of using my teaching experience to educate those in need.  This past spring, God placed it heavily on my heart that now was the time to follow this passion.  So, I did . . . and, here I am . . . living in Ecuador.  (By the way, the decision wasn’t quite that easy, but I just wanted to give you the brief overview, remember?)

Someone asked me the other day if Riobamba feels like home yet and my answer was no.  That made me wonder what it takes for a place to feel like home.  I like the city, my Ecuadorian family is wonderful, and the school where I’ll be teaching seems great.  But, I don’t wake up with warm and fuzzy feelings as if this is my home.  Then I wonder, did I wake-up with those feelings in St. Louis?  I don’t know.  Do you?  In Riobamba, I feel comfortable, cared for, and safe, but it is not home . . . yet.  So, that leaves me thinking that I am not sure what it really takes for a place to feel like home.  Does it happen in 10 months?  It that an unrealistic hope?  What does it really take to call a place home?

And . . . how does living in a country that speaks another language fit into all of this?  Gratefully, I do feel like my Spanish has improved since I’ve been in Ecuador.  At the same time, however, Spanish has been hard for me lately.  I don’t feel like I am learning much Spanish during my weekly lessons and have realized that I need to be challenged differently.  With that being said, I am planning on finding a new Spanish teacher and hope for a positive change.  Obviously, when there is a communication barrier in any scenario, it can be difficult to connect and feel like you are valued . . . because you really aren’t sure.  So, now I wonder if strengthening my communciation is one of the key components to Riobamba feeling like home.

And, to conclude . . . I begin teaching on Monday.  Wow . . . it’s hard to imagine that the time is finally here!  After a month of orientation and a month of observing other teachers, the first day of classes is so close!  I am excited . . . and nervous.  I have been assigned to teach Level 7 English classes.  At my school, there are 8 levels (plus a few additional methodology classes), so this means that the students in my classes should be rather proficient with English.  At some point after I get into the teaching routine, I’ll let you know how things are going.

I know this post was long.  Thanks for sticking with me.  As you may have realized, I have a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head these days.  If you have any advice to share with me about my time here, I would love to hear from you.  Hasta luego mis amigos!

Bienvenidos a Riobamba!


Riobamba . . . here I am!

I arrived on Sunday afternoon and have S-L-O-W-L-Y started to settle into my new life for the next 10 months.  I begin teaching on Monday, November 5, so I have quite awhile until the first day of classes.  That makes things difficult right now because I have a lot of open time, along with so much “newness”. . . host family, city, friends, and school.  Basically, most of the things that encompass my life these days.  And I wonder why things are hard right now.

You: “So what are you learning during this time?”

Me: “Oh thanks, I never thought you’d ask.” 🙂


(This might sound familiar because it was one of the areas I worked on when I was trying find a home for my dog before I left for Ecuador.)

On Monday morning (a little more than 12 hours after arriving in Riobamba), I felt very unsettled.  Everything was new . . . which for me, was uneasy and not very fun.  I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t know who I was living with at that moment.  Honestly, I didn’t feel like I knew much of anything right then.  Then Tuesday rolled around, and life was slightly better.  I knew everything a little bit more than the prior day.  Wednesday came and I started to feel slightly settled.  Yes, settled.  I had some routine and was developing a few comforts during the day. For example, the family has lunch at 1:00pm every afternoon.  And, while it felt like it had been a while that I had been unsettled in Riobamba . . . it has only been three days.  Patience, right?

As I look back on my month in Quito, I remember that it took me about two weeks to begin to feel settled and somewhat comfortable with my surroundings.  Again, I have only been in Riobamba for three days.  Therefore, my hope and prayer is that I remember to be patient and to trust that I will settle in during the coming days.  It might take about two weeks like in Quito, it might take less . . . but it might take more.  Eek.  So . . . I will be patient and keep learning along the way.

Last Day in Quito!


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.