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Sep. 18th, 2011 | 08:24 pm

I know, I posted this on my wordpress too, but the download messed up and now I have to repost it somewhere else. worth it though, free music!


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Just kidding!

May. 7th, 2009 | 08:04 pm
mood: accomplishedaccomplished

I was asked for directions not once, but twice today.
AND I was able to tell them where to go!

This is a landmark, I kid you not.

Tomorrow - Oswaldo Guayasamín museum... for real this time. I don´t have much time left to sightsee! and I don´t have any finals until Monday :)

That is all.

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Probably one of the last posts....

May. 6th, 2009 | 10:31 am
mood: melancholymelancholy

Hey all!

So this will probably be one of my last posts from Ecuador. I'm leaving soon and finals are starting up, so I will have less time to update.

I've decided it's about time I write a blog about my philosophy class. It is possibly one of the best people watching classes I've ever had! Let's see... we have:
- the boyfriend girlfriend couple that always sit next to each other and hold hands
- the two girls who are inseperable, and who laugh at the exchange students when we give our presentations (jerks)
- the 3 "tools." Seriously. Rat tails.
- the guy who ALWAYS looks like something is bothering him. He has a look of deep concern on his face at all times.

And I love our professor in there, because he says the funniest things.
"So people ask me if I'm a philosopher and I tell them: no, I'm an asshole, an asshole who doesn't know what he stands on."
"So what came out of this 'prau prau' (hanking panky) - mestizaje!"

:(... I can't believe the semester is over already. I'm going to miss a lot of people and things from Quito.

Things I will miss:
- new friends made
- meeting people from all over the world
- music being absolutely everywhere
- fresh fruit juices
- soups
- public transportation
- the mild weather (not looking forward to humidity)
- salsa dancing (or attempting to)
- cheap taxis, and arguing with taxi drivers
- marketplaces, haggling
- having to use spanish
- mountains
- how easy and cheap it is to travel
- chill life

Things I am looking forward to:
- being able to walk places alone
- being able to carry a purse that actually has important stuff in it
- howdy
- polite smiles from strangers
- not being honked at, psssssted at, hit on by creepers in general
- texas
- rain, thunderstorms and tin roofs
- family, friends and pets obviously
- tex mex
- dr pepper
- driving
- being able to bike places somewhat safely
- consistantly warm showers
- not being sick anymore (i've had a cold sore throat or something for over a month...SMOG)
- drinking tap water if i feel like it, and not being worried about the food i eat

Here are some pictures of the marketplace I went to a week ago.

Love from Quito.

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Looking forward to... safety

Apr. 28th, 2009 | 07:01 pm
mood: annoyedannoyed

Things that have happened in the past 3 weeks (this does not include stories from friends):

1) attempted break in to our appartment by psycho waitress, while I was home alone

2) shooting across from campus (armed robbery)

3) group of 4 kids pretending that they had a weapon under one of their jackets and threatening me on the way home from school (it turned out to be a water bottle).


Looking forward to the bubble that is the United States! And the bubble within the bubble that is College Station, TX.

Is it bad that this isn´t phasing me as much as it should or would have 6 months ago? I think I´m getting desensitized.

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The Enchanted Isles (Galápagos)

Apr. 20th, 2009 | 05:01 pm
mood: ecstaticecstatic

First of all.... PICTURES.

Second of all... it was pretty much AMAZING. I had such a great time, and was so glad that the trip worked out so last minute. I think I would have really regretted having left Ecuador without seeing them, so I´m really really really glad I went. Really. Also my mom decided to come last minute (seriously, less than 4 days before I was due to leave) and we managed to make things work. Amazing.

Also, I´m really glad we did things on our own, without a cruise tour or formal tour. But I think you would have to know at least a little Spanish to do it. Not only did we save about 75% on the cost of the trip, but I honnestly think we saw more. I liked the experience a lot - we got to see more of the local communities, meet more of the people and see the "real" Galápagos in my opinion. I hate how tours shelter tourists from the communities and I had a great time speaking with the ecuadorians there.  They were all really helpful and nice with us. Our taxi drivers always shared what they knew about the islands with us, and our hostal owners always helped us plan our day and asked how our day went when we got back in the afternoons. It was so different from Quito - much smaller, obviously, and people are richer from tourism, so everyone was a lot happier I think, and a lot more friendly with foreigners.

So... here is what we did day to day (it´s easier for me to remember in that format)

We flew in to San Cristóbal, grabbed a taxi at the airport and got to our hostal. We stayed in Hostal San Francisco off of Charles Darwin street in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The couple who owns it was wonderful. They were really helpful, helped us get our feet on the ground and told us which places on the island were worth seeing and how much taxis should cost to each place so we wouldn´t get ripped off. Also, fans in every room and private baths, if anyone reading this is planning a galápagos trip. :).

So, with their advice on hand, we got a taxi to drive us to La Soledad, La Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado, Puerto Chino and "El Junco." La Soledad was a great lookout point in the highlands of San Cristóbal where we could see the shoreline and landscape. La Galapaguera is a breeding facility for giant tortoises. We hiked around the park and our guide told us about the different plants we ran into. We also got to see week old tortoises as well as one that was probably around 70 or 80 years old. They usually release the tortoises back into the wild after they reach the age of 2 though.
Puerto Chino was trail down to a a gorgeous white sand beach. We were pretty hot from walking around all afternoon, so the quick dip we had was very nice. I wish I had had snorkeling gear here though, the water was so clear.
El Junco is the only place in all of the islands that has a freshwater lake. We hiked up to see it and even saw some frigate birds fishing there, and got to see the sunset from the top.

Monday, we went on a day trip with a company that owns boats to do a tour of the island by boat. We went to several places around the island: León Dormido, Cerro Brujo (both smaller islands off of San Cristóbal), a beach called Manglecito and snorkleing at la Lobería. We saw a lot of blue footed boobies nesting, masked pelicans, frigate birds, marine iguanas. Snorkleing, we had sea lions come right up to us, they were really playful. We also saw lots of fish, a smaller ray and sea turtles.

Something hilarious happened at dinner that night. We had ordered (they had given us english menus) and I overheard something suspicious at the other table next to us in Spanish. So I ask our waiter if we could also see a menu in Spanish and he goes: "UHHHHHH so I have to explain." All the prices on the English menus were about 2 dollars more than the prices on the Spanish one. Apparently there were "in the process of changing prices and had only gotten to reprinting the English menus." Yeah. Right.

Tuesday, we transfered over to the Santa Cruz island. The boat ride over there nearly did me in. I have never really felt sea sick before, but the waters were really rough and it was a smaller boat, and I think most of the problem was I wasn´t getting fresh air and people were getting sick around me. But we did make it to Puerto Ayora, and found a hostal to stay at. We stayed at Lirios Del Mar, also a really nice place for the price we paid and close to town.
After checking in, we went to the Darwin Reseach Center where they had some really good information about the islands and also breeding facilities for the 11 different species of tortoises on the islands, and land ignanas too.
We also checked out the beach at the Darwin Center on the way back. It was hilarious, full of kids on their way out of school. It was fun to watch them play on the beach. What a place to grow up in.

Wednesday we went to Tortuga Bay. It is a nice 30-45 minute hike out to the bay area, where we got to see a lot of different seabirds, red mangroves, marine ignanas out swimming for seaweed. The main beach is about a kilometer of pretty strong currents and surf, so we went to the bay area around the corner where the water is calmer to snorkle and swim. I was snorkleing when two HUGE manta rays (seriously, 3.5ft wingspans) swam right next to me. It scared the heck out of me at first, but they were obviously just swimming around, so I followed them around for a bit. They are really awesome (in the biblical sense) creatrues... really elegant and graceful in the water.
I got back to shore and realized I had actually been snorkleing in an area where white finned sharks hang out. Hmmm... They don´t do anything to humans, but still I´m not sure I would have gone in if I had known that before hand. I took a kayak out instead. Felt safer. They swim around the mangroves to feed, so I went there to take a look and was lucky and saw a few of them, as well as some more rays (manta rays and a marbled stingray).

Here´s the really horrible part of the story. Another guy also came out onto the water on his kayak and we were talking and he was from Quito. And so I´m about to go back in, but before I go, he asks me if I can take a picture of him on his kayak. I take a couple, and I´m handing him back his camera when either it slips out of both of our hands into the water when I´m holding it over. I felt HORRIBLE... we spent like an hour snorkleing trying to find it, but the tide was going out and the water was really murky and we didn´t end up finding it. Worst part about it... it was his last full day on the islands, all of his pictures were on the camera, it was actually his sister´s camera... and she had BABY pictures on there... horrible. Horrible. Horrible. I offered to help him pay her back for it but he refused... And he was way too nice about the whole situation. I know I would have died if I had lost all my pictures from the week...

Thursday we visited the highlands of Santa Cruz. We went to Los Gemelos, walked through Lava Tunnels, also went to a natural giant tortoise reserve (El Chato). Los Gemelos are two huge craters you can hike around, and see the different layers and get an idea of how the islands were formed. The lava tunnel was also cool, it also gives you an idea of the amount of time and energy it took to form these islands. At the tortoise reserve we got to see them in their natural habitat, and up really close (see the pictures up at the link).

In the afternoon, we went to a beach called El Garrapatero. We were literally the ONLY people on this beach. It was really nice... seabirds and black pinned ducks and finches kept us company.

We didn´t do much since we had to transfer back to San Cristóbal were we flew out of on Saturday. We mostly walked around town. It was nice to have a calm day. Also, the boat ride back was a lot better! I took some sour candy with me, and sat up on top of the passenger area with the captain. I got fresh air, could see the horrizon (and a couple dolphins following us around) and talked with the others up there.

We went to the Interpretation Center near town where they had some information about the Natural History of the Galápagos and also some information on the human aspect of the Galápagos which was nice to learn about. Then, one last snorkleing trip at Playa Mann across from the USFQ campus, where it was quite nice actually - clear waters, lots of fish (including a HUGE turquoise parrotfish). Sadly, we left for the airport after a quick last lunch of fresh fish (we had great seafood all week), and got back to Quito. We were lucky though, on our flight to Quito, we got to see the snow covered peaks on our way in. Quito really is beautiful, a different beautiful obviously than the islands.

So yeah that is it for the trip really... It was so worth it. My suggestion for anyone going who knows any Spanish: don´t trust the guidebooks, they will make you believe traveling on your own there is very difficult, but it was not at all. It was probably some of the safest, most friendly places I have traveled in in Ecuador and well worth it.

Oh! I almost forgot... I didn´t post about my 21st birthday. It was really nice actually. I was worried it would not be away from home, but I had a great time with my friends here. I ended up going to my friend Mike´s place where we had some people over and ate homemade tiramisu made by another friend, Dagma and then going out to dance later on. I had the appropriate amount of alcohol worthy of a 21st birthday (Mike and Earl pretty much made sure I had a drink in hand at all times), and danced until 3 in the morning. No worries parents, I was safe, and well taken care of. I ended up staying at Mike´s place since taking a taxi home alone was probably not the safest idea at the time. Good decisions made, no worries again, parents :).

To sum everything up... it´s been a great past 2 weeks. I need a vacation from this vacation! I really want to go back though at some point... any takers? I´ll be the translator :).

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Apr. 7th, 2009 | 06:09 pm
mood: excitedexcited

Hey all!

Sorry I haven´t written in awhile, midterms kind of took over my life!

I´m ready for spring break... it starts tomorrow :).

Since I´ve written, I think lots has happened, I´m going to try to touch on the big points though.

We went to the Brazil - Ecuador World Cup (2010) qualifier here. It was crazy! The crowds were huge, and so were the lines. We had brunch at Melissa and Earl´s before the game and left for the game at 1, when it started at 4 and were considered late by ecuadorian standards. Really. When we got there we had to fight for seats. Also, something slightly funny in comparasion to A&M games, where we are pretty nice to our competition, after each name the announcer announced for the opposing team, the ENTIRE stadium yelled "son of a b"&/$!!" or "HIJO DE PUTA" in Spanish. Interesting.


Last weekend, I went to a small town in Northern Ecuador named Palestina (Palestine, I know, hilarious). We stayed at a nice hostel there on the beach, I basically spent the weekend recovering from a cold I had caught in a hammock on the beach. Not too bad. It was a nice weekend.


In other EXCITING NEWS..... I will be heading to the Galápagos Islands on Saturday! I am soooo excited. I really have wanted to do this, and things worked out so I could... and I´m glad I can take advantage of being so close to them. I will take a TON of pictures I promise... I´m still figuring out travel details right now (I refuse to buy an overpriced cruise, and am doing it on my own). A different type of vacation than what I am used to. All the information online is so biased and tries to make you buy a cruise... so there is really not much for the individual traveler. I´ve heard the best thing to do is get there, know the places you want to visit and figure it out from there, so that is what I have been researching this week.

Potential Itinerary?
Sat: land on San Cristobal
Sun: explore San Cristobal, transfer to Puerto Ayora on the Santa Cruz Island
Mon: explore more of Santa Cruz
Tues: Floreana
Wed: Isabela
Thurs: Isabela
Fri: Santa Cruz, possibly return to San Cristobal that night.
Sat: Return to Quito from San Cristobal

The main thing is going to be the issue of getting to each of those islands. I hear that there are planes and boats that go between most of them, I just need to figure out where from.

It´ll be an adventure, I can promise you that :).

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(no subject)

Apr. 2nd, 2009 | 06:29 pm
mood: ecstaticecstatic

Sorry I dropped off the face of the earth... one word: midterm time!

Beach this weekend. More details to come.

GALAPAGOS for spring break (April 11th-18th)! Trip made possible by tax returns. Yay! Many more details to come. I will be on the San Cristóbal Island... I´m stoked!!!

Leaving in a bit for the beach on a night bus... Still need to pack. Better update soon, I promise.

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Mar. 22nd, 2009 | 04:23 pm
mood: happyhappy


Goodbyes are sad, but it was such a good week. Kyle and Misty got here last Friday (the 13th) and stayed until this weekend. Definitely not enough time but we ended up doing quite a lot! (As a warning to parents reading this, I did not attend much class this week, but am catching up this one).

The first weekend I had that model UN thing ALL day. I´m talking 8-7.30 on Saturday and 10-5.30 on Sunday. So that was kind of unfortunate. But, they kept busy on Saturday and had brunch with some friends on Sunday.

Monday: we caught a bus to Papallacta, a town about 2-3 hours away by bus. They are known for the thermal waters they have there. All of the water is heated by volcanic heat. We spent most of the day in the water, getting wrinkly and going from the hot water to the ice cold water (from the river). It´s supposed to be really good for your circulation.

Tuesday: I played tour guide and took them around Quito. We went to the market near la Mariscal where they sell aritisanal goods (like Otavalo, but smaller). Kyle bought a pretty awesome hat that you will see in most of the pictures haha. Then, we went to El Panecillo (the Virgen of Quito) where we went up in the statue, took in the awesome view. El Panecillo is at a high point in the middle of Quito, so on one side, you can see North Quito with the Historical District and everything and on the other side, the South. We ate lunch at a restaurant called Pim´s there, which serves typical Ecuadorian food, so they got introduced to that.

Wednesday: I brought them to campus with me and showed them around there. Later that night, we had a BBQ at the hostal they were staying at. It was one of the girls´ last nights in Quito (Sandra, from Germany), so they had a goodbye party there for her. We had music up on the rooftop: guitars, bongo drums with songs sung in English, Spanish and Japanese (we had an international crowd that night). It was really great to get everyone together. Later that night, we went out to go dance at a place called la Bunga. It was a fun night!

Thursday: we left to go to a town about 2 hours from here called Mindo. They are famous for the different types of birds and butterflies there. It was beautiful, cloud forest everywhere (think rainforest, but higher up). We stayed at an ecolodge there and everything was amazing. We were actually the only guests there for Thursday and Friday, so we spent a lot of time with Eric, the volunteer running the place and our guide Jon. All of the meals are served with everyone sitting together, so you get to meet new people. Also, they grow as much food as they can on the property (they can´t grow as much during the rainy season because they don´t get enough sun), so all the food was so fresh, and really really really good. Everything is made from scratch (seirously, we saw them make the pasta and the bread). The owner´s family actually owns a cocoa farm, so all of the chocolate they used in their dishes and hot chocolate was from there.
Besides eating (which we did, a lot), we also went to the butterfly farm nearby. I have a ton of pictures from there in the album. It was really awesome. They raise the butterflies on site and release some, and keep others to help raise money for the cause.
We also went on a hike with Jon, who explained different plants´ uses in traditional medicine and pointed out any birds or orchids along the way.
After that, we went tubing down the river. It was FREEZING! But so much fun! I screamed the entire way down and held on for my life.
Thursday night was a lazy night, we just ended up eating dinner, misty read her book and kyle beat me at chess. Twice.

Friday: We woke up at FOUR in the morning to go watch a lek nearby (haha... I still think Misty is a little bitter at me getting her up that early). Leks are displays put on by male birds in specific areas where they all compete to impress any females that come by. It was so early, but I´m really glad I went. It´s probably the only time in my life I´ll see something like that again, and the birds were a gorgeous, bright red color with some blank and white. After that, we got back to eat breakfast and then went on a longer hike to see some waterfalls nearby. We went on a really cool cable car ride across the jungle with great views to help get there. We even saw a fer de lance viper. Scary. After that we were pretty much dead for the day, spent the rest of the day reading at our cabin and birdwatching from our window. It was so nice, and I was really sad to leave Mindo... I need to get back there!

Saturday: Misty left for Dallas at FOUR in the morning (got to love early starts, and international flights). Kyle and I spent the day at Otavalo (after a little more sleep) at the marketplace, looking for gifts for his friends and family back home. We were lucky, it was raining that day, so we got some really great deals from the vendors there. We also caught a bus to Cotacachi on a whim and I´m SO GLAD we did. It is another town near Otavalo (15 minute bus ride) where they are known for their leather goods. Kyle got himself a really neat leather travel backpack and leather luggage at a ridiculous cheap price and I got myself a leather briefcase for $55. Something like that in the US of the same (or maybe even worse) quality costs five times that much. It was cheap and beautiful and I´m using it for job interviews next semester. That was my reasoning :).

So yeah... that is it really. It was a really relaxing, but fun week and I hope they had fun too. Now, back to the real world! School tomorrow and stuff to get done.

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Mar. 10th, 2009 | 08:50 pm


So the rainforest was a lot of fun. I got to go caving for the first time ever, and it was SO COOL! We had water up to our neck at some points, there were a ton of bats (not the vampire ones, although those ones do live in Ecuador). I don´t have any pictures from the cave, though, since the water was so high, I decided not to risk killing the camera.

After that, we set up camp for the night near the river in Misahualli. Went into town for some dancing where, as always, people with Latin blood in their veins showed me up.

The next day, we just had time for a short hike near the town in the forest before we had to catch the bus back to Quito. It was kind of funny, because we literaly got the LAST "seats" in the bus. Meaning 7 of us sat in the driver´s cabin in the front where really there is probably only sitting room for 3. We got to know everyone really well.

Misty and Kyle get here on Friday :). I´m trying to get everything together still before they come. I may be coming down with a cough... I really hope not though... bad timing.

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weekend plans slash laziness

Mar. 6th, 2009 | 12:49 pm

I am going hiking in the jungle this weekend with my mountaineering class! Exciting. I have been somewhat of a bum for the past week, and stayed in Quito instead of traveling, so it will be nice to finally get out of the city of smog that Quito is and breathe some fresh air again!

Wednesday night, we went to pub quiz night at Reina Victoria again and got 3rd place! After that, we met some friends at a Blues concert at el Pobre Diablo. Thursday was Sandra´s going away dinner at Earl and Melissa´s apartment. Great food and great people.

I got my first set of grades back and they were good! It´s comforting to know I´m not going to fail all my classes this semester :). Also, I´ve been trying to get work done for when kyle and misty get here. I have a Model UN conference the first weekend they are here and a few papers due that week, so I am working on getting those papers done now (1 done, 1 to go!). I can´t wait! I just hope they will not be too bored the first few days they are here when I am at model UN.

My host brother and his wife are getting here tomorrow to visit for a week. I´m leaving in the morning for the jungle and they are leaving on Sunday before I get back to go to the beach as a family vacation, so I will not see them until Wednesday when they get back from la playa. And will be home alone for 3 days :(.

have i mentioned kyle and misty get here NEXT FRIDAY?? :)!!

Pictures from the jungle coming at your local blog soon.

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