Friday, May 21, 2010

Ecuador so far

Where did I leave off? ahhh...
May 16th
I was waiting for Mollie in the airport. Well, she finally showed up all bright as sunshine in her yellow shirt. Then Abby Cain showed up, then Hugh Lane, Mitchell Reed, Jake Walden and finally, right before we boarded the plane, Jay Scott. We met this guy in the airport that was sitting near us named Andrew from wisconsin... he ended up being my row mate on the plane - and we had an empty seat inbetween us, which was totally awesome for stretch room and movability :) The plane ride wasn´t bad... and wasn´t as long as I had figured it would be. I watched the movie Invictus, slept for a little while, and edited a few pictures. The plane food was pretty delicious, surprisingly. I had chicken and vegetables with bread and salad. Andrew got the same - I was kind of hoping he´d get the pasta so i could try it ;) we landed and got our bags, went through customs, and then I saw Ximena (our program director) who introduced all of us to our host families that were picking us up from the airport. I met my host dad, 70 year old named Alejandro or Papá, who told me in the cab ride home about how he traveled and studied in America and then in Spain (Madrid) and now is an Economics teacher at a University in Quito. He didn´t say this in English - all in Spanish - so I was pretty proud of myself for understanding. He also told me that Heather, my roommate, had arrived a few hours earlier and was now "muerta" (dead) at the house. That took me by surprise but I figured he just meant dead tired - which he did. I walked in and she was asleep in one of the beds in the room which we share, so I claimed the other bed and we chatted for a bit about our flights, our expectations about the trip, the people we´d met so far and then we both fell asleep. First day of school the next day!

May 17th
6:45 am came early, but the sun was determined to wake me up. I got up and got ready for the day, because breakfast, we learned, is everyday at 7:45 am. We each had a sandwich (3 pieces of bread with hand and cheese melted onto them) (un sandwich con jamón y queso), pineapple and bananas (piña y plantanos) in yogurt, and frothy apple juice (speaking of... all of their juice here is frothy and warm... not a big fan). Papá y Susana (my host mom) ate with us as well as our housemates (two girls from England and one from Japan) and we all only spoke Spanish. I was pretty quiet this first day trying to understand everything that everyone was saying and how I would respond the next few days to stuff asked and told to me. After breakfast, heather and I had 1.5 hours before we had to leave for school so we unpacked our bags to the three little drawers we each were allowed and then sat down and talked. Mamá Susana took us in a Taxi to school, even though we were close enough to walk, because her back is hurt in some place. So she showed us the way to school, and then said goodbye to us after walking us into the building. It was this quaint little yellow building that looked no bigger than a 4 bedroom house. Soo cute and bright! All of us piled into the large classroom on the bottom floor and met everyone (18 students and 5 or so teachers). Our "principle" I guess you could call him, is named Caesar and my teacher is named Sylvia. We took an entrance exam (both written and verbal) and were placed into classes with three other students (Krista, Sammy, and Mollie are in my class). This is the group I will be with every morning in school from 9-12am and then in the afternoons twice a week I have class with Ximena (as the professor) and about 9 or 10 other students to learn more about Ecuadorian culture.
We all, after our exams, sat around the couryard in the middle of the school talking about cartoons, places we´d already seen in Ecuador and where it would be possible to do daily runs (which turns out is not very common down here). We met our dance teacher - a guy 25 years old named Jonathan - and all of the girls awed at his body. He was so fit! I didn´t know that salsa dancing could make your body look that good... guess I found my new sport! haha - and after our first lesson on Wednesday, i found out WHY his body looked so good... that was a workout!
Back to monday, though... first day and already a field trip! Ximena and Andrea (one of the main women at the school in charge of us) took us around the town to show us our surroundings. We walked around for two hours and managed to come across a marketplace with awesome shoes, llama jacked, and I bought a ne fabric Ecuador braclet like the one I bought in Baños the last time I was here. We had an "welcome lunch" at this restaurant called Mongo´s which was a Mongolian barbeque restaurant. Each had a salad or soup, a main course (mine was pollo con una salsa coco - chicken with coconut sauce) and then chocolate cake. Jay, who sat next to me, was obviously pretty hungry because he downed his food in about two seconds - no kidding.
Daddy Wunder - I watched the way the water flushed at this place and it was clockwise... but when I got home it flushed counterclockwise.... so I don´t know what to tell you about the ways of the flushing down here.
While walking around everyone stopped at a cell phone store and we all got cell phones to use for the month since we are going to have to keep in touch and have ways to make plans. I had a phone so all i needed was the service, and everyone got a phone from this company named Porta but my phone wasn´t compatable with this service so I had to use service from a different company named Movistar - which totally is uncool because now I have to pay to call or text everyone while they all can call or text each other for free. Suzie had a phone as well which she bought the last time she was out of the country... and when she went to take the back off and only get a SIM card, we found out that the last company had superglued the back onto the battery and the battery into the phone... hahahaha soo much for that phone! It was destroyed once we had actually gotten it open.
We all went back to the school, exchanged numbers and then went home. Heather and I, on the way back to our house, stopped at a little pharmacy and bought water, pepsi, oreos, shampoo and conditioner. All set ;)
Dinner is every night around 7 or 7:30 so she and I just crashed until then... took showers and got ready for our first night out on the town. I don´t remember what was for dinner this night, but everything that Susana makes is AMAZING... the only things that I am having trouble eating is the yogurt that she puts on the fruit, and I don´t think the cheese is settling well with my stomach. Heather and I have begged her for recipes to all of the meals she had made for us - and I´m pretty sure she said the other day that we can each have a book of recipes. YAYY.
After dinner Heather and I just chilled and listened to music while waiting for 9pm to roll around so that we could meet the rest of the group down at the school. We met there and then went out to see what Ecuador had to offer. Found this little pub that we stayed at for a while... Jay loving it because for $5 they offered all you could drink beer in an hour. hahahaha well he definitely took advantage of that ;) Walked around a bit more, found a place called "The Next Level" and danced for a about an hour. From there it was about 12:00 am so we all called it a night and went back to our houses. Heather and I caught a Taxi home and then went straight to bed.

May 23
Soooo on this morning Heather and I were woken up by Davis coming into our room at 6:30am and telling us that he slept in the hallway outside of our house the previous night because of being robbed and not having any money for a cab ride home. Our host mom was thoroughly upset because she loves Davis and didn’t like the fact that he didn’t just knock on the door and ask for a place to sleep or for some money. He said that there were four guys with knives that came up to him while he was on his way to our place for cab money who took his phone, keys, and wallet… but then gave back his wallet after finding out that he had no money and then he yelled at them until they gave back his keys. In a way I find that hilarious because they were like discussing what the robbers could and couldn’t take. Quite a comical robbery if you ask me. Then I remembered the night before after Heather and I came home, Davis calling and saying that he couldn’t find anyone at the discoteca that we had been at and wanting to know if he could come to our place and borrow some cab money… then the phone cut out. Well Heather waited up for him for a while, texted him and tried to call back, but we never knew what happened until 6:30 this morning. Heather gave Davis cab money and we went back to sleep... glad he was safe and wishing him luck.

We went back to sleep and woke back up again at 11am and both began editing pictures that we had taken so far until we decided to go get lunch at 1:00. We walked out of the room to discover that our breakfast had been sitting on the table ready for us all morning long. Oops. I’ve found out that my stomach does not like the dairy here, so unfortunately I couldn’t eat what she had made me, which was fruit covered in yogurt and a sandwich with mayonnaise and cheese. Ggrrr. I can’t stand not having breakfasts that I can eat without getting sick. I want my cereal and milk back! So on the way to the supermarket called Super Maxi, Heather and I stopped at this cute little bakery that we pass on our way to school everyday. We found lots of fatty stuff: churros with chocolate, chocolate croissants, and empanadas con pollo. We also took a few minutes to pick out a cake to order for the birthday party that was planned for the nighttime! Celebrating Susana (our mom’s), Claire (our host sister from England), and Davis’s (friend from the group) birthdays for the week. Chocolate cake… I think that was the theme for the day hence all of the things we bought from the bakery. We left there and walked across the street to the Internet Café to get our family and friend fix from home ;) . We also took time to upload pictures for all of you at home to see and use to keep up with us. I know it’s taken forever for me to do the blog, but I just can’t seem to find the inspiration or want to write… so I’m taking plenty of pictures of everything instead. While we were in the internet café, Claire and Bekah walked in. Cool! We had a little roommate chat with them before continuing with what we were doing.

Leaving there, we continued our journey to the Super Maxi to find birthday decorations and cleaning supplies for the house. Super Maxi was similar to Food Lion or any grocery store like that, but bigger; But still not quite as big as a Wal-Mart. We found cleaning supplies (rubber gloves, orange spray cleaner and sponges) so that I could clean the bathroom at the house that has been full of scum and bugs since we moved in. No crowns, poster board, or markers though… oh and the most important: sheets for my bed, so we continued on to Mega Maxi to look for more things. Mega Maxi was AWESOME! So much bigger than Wal Mart… it actually sort of reminded me of a mall but with groceries and such. I found hot pink sheets (yay) and we got crowns for Susana and Claire and a king’s crown for Davis to wear at dinner time. We got poster board to make a big Feliz Cumpleaños sign for the dinner. We showered and I put my new sheets on my bed (so nice) and cleaned all of the dirt, dust, old scum and bugs out of the bathroom (so clean)!! that room felt 100x better after all of that change. Davis showed up around 7:30pm and Susana had the dinner ready. Afterwards we had our lovely cake that Heather and I bought... and figured out a new way to cut a cake. Did you know that the person who's birthday it is cuts the middle of the cake out and gets to save that part for themselves. Awesome idea! Afterwards we took family pictures and then just hung out in our rooms. Davis left after a while and all of us girls sat down to do our homework to get ready for school again the next day. Lovely day.

May 24 Since I took a shower last night I decided to use my time this morning to straighten my hair for once; and guess what, when I got out of bed I realized that the new sheets had actually stayed on the bed!!!!! How exciting?!?! I wasn't just sleeping on an old dirty mattress... Nice morning to wake up. Ah my homework had been to learn a spanish song and translate it, so I learned Fotografía by Juanes. It was a cute song about missing a girl .... actually it was quite sad... but I liked it. Later in class we talked about this and the other songs the other girls picked out and then talked about food. In fact, we talk about food a lot in that class. I told the girls that I'd make them banana mush at some point and they all said eww when i told them what was in it.... EWW?? how can you say eww to banana mush?! hahaha... they'll learn to like it! Well we decided on Mollie bringing us just plain peanut butter and banana sandwiches (sanduches) the next day, in the end... and by this time I was incredibly hyper because I've started drinking a small cup of coffee whenever I get to school each day. It's so good but I get sooo incredibly hyper... my teacher thinks it's hilarious.

Heather and I left to go home for lunch at noon, just like every other day, and came home to find out that Susana or someone in the house had cleaned our rooms... nice I guess.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A few pictures so far

Yes.. i know i haven´t written... it´s hard to blog when you´re staying at a place with no internet... and there is no time to go to an internet cafe. I´ll write more later... ANND apparently it´s going to take forever to upload pics so these few will have to make do.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Travel bug

FINALLY finished packing ... two bags and a book bag later, Dad and Mom were toting me to the airport. I have never seen so many people in the Myrtle Beach airport... but thanks to three security lanes up and running, i got through the line within thirty minutes or less. I saw a lady of about 60 years of age with purple dreads, an older man with crazy blonde spikey hair (dad said it was part of his hat, but it matched his mustache and sideburns all too well i think), and then... best one yet... the Zdybel familiy! YAY!!

Got through security and then went straight onto the plane that had already started boarding. Ohhh my. As soon as I got on I smelled my seat partner - he was quite the drunk, that man. Talked about how he had been in Myrtle Beach for a 25 year college reunion and hadn't eaten for 3 days but had definitely had enough to drink... hmmm ya think? Well he was nice enough and I learned a bunch about his life... so I was entertained. I also had a kick watching the man in front o me who was sitting in first class eat everything he brought on board. I've never seen anyone eat that much on a plane - especially a plane ride that is only 54 minutes long. He started off with a bag of sun chips, then a twix, then an apple and then a sandwich. He got water and then coke. CRAZY. were we even on the plane long enough to consume all of that? hahaha. The stewardesses were extremely nice and for once all i'm lugging around is a back pack, so i'm pretty content right now. :)

I arrived to the Atlanta airport at 12:55pm and then got off and went to eat at TGI Fridays. Salad was wonderful and ... company was as well. ;) Ended up meeting the lady sitting next to me - go figure - and talked for a while about her adventures when she was in college and studied abroad in Mexico and worked in Spain. She made me laugh because she sounded sooo much like me and what I'd be like (or what I'm like) when I travel. :)

Now I'm sitting at T07 waiting to meet the first girl I'll meet of the trip - Mollie Siddens. We're flying together down to Ecuador - boarding in about an hour and then leaving in 2.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Oh the joys of packing!

Leaving for Ecuador in a little over one day, and I still have yet to put anything into my bags! I do have a phone picture of the clothes I have laid out to take, though (keep in mind, I'm only going for one month). BUT I do have reason for the amount of clothes I am taking: the weather is SOO unpredictable down in Quito, Ecuador, that you must be ready for anything!! :) I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Heather and I have been texting for quite a few days now getting prepared to live together and meet our wonderful host family. Apparently we're the closest house to the school (which is totally awesome because that means we won't have to catch a bus to get to the school and will be quickly able to come home for lunch with the family after our morning Spanish classes). AL is ready to travel :) BRING IT ON, BABY!!! Ojala que aprenda puedo regresar con fluencia en la idioma de español. Is that correct, all of you Spanish-speakers? I'll keep updating this as much as I can while I'm there, but I'm not real sure how the Internet is going to be. Keep an eye out!!
-- world traveler --