Wednesday, September 28, 2011


We have been in Quito for 5 days and we are leaving in about 20 minutes to go to our homestay families!
We've been staying at la Mision Carmelita, a mission, which at first seemed really cool but then at night it seemed REALLY creepy because of all these glow in the dark rosaries and the bathroom kept making weird noises and we are locked in at night and basically it was terrifying. It's haunted and my roommate Sarah started writing a screenplay of a bunch of travelling kids who stay at a mission and get haunted by ghosts, it was hilarious and very accurate.

Anyway, these past days we have been doing a lot of reading and more seminars. The theme for our time in Ecuador is environment. We also have been taking Spanish lessons during the day.

But we also do fun stuff - we took a walking tour of the old town part of quito. It was really pretty with tons of old buildings and churches. We saw the Basilica and another church with this myth about it that the builder made a deal with the devil to give away his soul in return for the construction of the church, but he hid one of the bricks so the church was technically never completed and he totally duped the devil, lawlz.

We had a movie night of "Top Gun" which was the best worst movie I have ever seen. Everyone was cracking up the whole time and we gave ourselves fighter jet names. Meet C-Rex, nice to meet you.

We also watched a film called "The Corporation" which has more to do with our learning theme. It was interesting. It fits in with a ton of articles and chapters we've read about corporate responsibilities for cleanup and stuff.

We bought work gloves and boots for our project in our homestay community. We're going to be fixing up trails in the forest for sustainable ecotourism and possibly planting trees as well. We got spraypaint and decorated our boots which are now FABULOUS! Mine are gold with glitter. Laboring in style.

Anyway, we are heading out to Atahualpa (our homestay community) soon and I don't know when I'll have internet again. I'm excited but also a little nervous! I'm sure I will be comparing it to Nicaragua the whole time (holla to my AMIGOS peeps and partner Ali) but I will try not to!! Miss everyone!

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'll think of a title later

Hey everyone, still alive and thought I should do another blog post while I still can!

Costa rica is still pretty awesome. The other day we went to this little store that Mijal found and bought popsicles and went down this little road to the beach that some guy recommended. It ended up being ridiculously muddy and huge puddles/lakes that we had to try to skirt around, and then we finally ended up at this gate which was someone's house? but no one was there so we went through and ended up with a beautiful view of the beach. We've been down to see the sunset a couple times since that and went swimming at dusk which was way cool despite us getting in the way of all the surfers.

We also went ziplining which I had actually already done on a family trip to Costa Rica but I still had a blast. We were way high up above the canopy and you could see monkeys (howler monkeys! which are surprisingly small and everywhere) and miles of mountains and forest.

A side note for swimteam people - I introduced the idea of the imaginary (but so real) scapegoat, Dana, to the group and it has totally taken off. Meet Jordan who has already put a scorpion on Sarah and swapped out insect repellant for insect attractant among other things. GAH Jordan.

Anyway aside from all the fun things we've been doing we're also still having tons of seminars/discussions. One of the main themes has been "what is development." Tomorrow we are having a debate between the theories introduced in two books we read (The End of Poverty and The White Man's Burden), basically between the idea that the West has the means and responsibility to end poverty in the world through foreign aid, and the idea that the West's efforts do more harm than good. It'll be interesting because I'm debating on the side that I don't completely agree with... Anyway we're also currently reading Savages by Joe Kane and the other night we watched a cool film called "Baraka," which an Islamic word that means the thread that weaves all persons together. I really like that idea... It had no words, only images, and was very cool. I'd recommend it if you're in a deep-thought mood.

Tomorrow we are having a pool party/cookout with grilled veggies and chicken at the nice pool in the hostel. Very excited.

Miss y'all, thinking of everyone!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Costa Rica Pics

I haven't taken a lot but Julia is letting me put up some of hers too so enjoy!
Also I didn't really explain but right now I am just at orientation. It's 2 weeks of fun stuff in addition to beginning our curriculum. We actually just had another seminar over the topic "Who Are You?" and we're doing a couple of readings as well. The homestays and volunteer work will start once we get to the core countries (Ecuador in a week in a half!) and the curriculum stuff will continue of course.
OK here you go!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pura Vida y'all

Day 3 and it seems like I've been here forever. Not in a bad way, there's just a lot of stuff packed into every day.
Starting from the beginning - all 11 students and 3 program leaders met up at the airport in Houston and flew out together on Saturday. It was weird because we'd all stalked each other on Facebook and also because we knew we'd be hanging out for 8 months... but all good. We got to our hostel in Costa Rica and the girls spent a while exploring because this hostel was sweet! We discovered a random guy semi-passed out in front of our room (which had A/C!! YES), a TV room where we made a bean bag mountain, and a cool little balcony thing that looked out on the sketchy park outside. We had our first Costa Rican meal for dinner: PIZZA! Which was delicious but we were all exhausted and crashed pretty much immediately after.
On Sunday we woke up pretty early, had breakfast and set out on a little tourist bus to make it to our next hostel which was a 5 hour ride away. I was trying to stay awake for the whole thing because of the beautiful costa rican mountains and jungley scenery but I did fall asleep - until one of our back tires blew out! We made it to a little cafe thing where we got plantain chips and drinks while the guys and the bus driver fixed the wheel. Then back on the road with one more stop for lunch and groceries. And then we got to THIS hostel, which is EVEN BETTER!

It's called Mauna Loa, so beautiful! It has an awesome pool with little fountains and tons of hammocks and cool lights and animals all over the place. We got put in our rooms which are little like mini houses with bathrooms and all. Julia and I got a room to ourselves and everyone else is in a room of 3 which works out well for us - no lines for showers and we get big beds! We took a dip in the pool and had our first seminar on Sunday night.

The seminar was over: What is development? Which was really interesting - lots of people contributing different ideas and the conversation went on for like over an hour.

Today we learned to surf on the beach that’s a short walk from the hostel! The walk is through this section of protected mangroves which are SO cool and it’s just a bunch of boards holding up the path. The surf instructors were awesome and I got up on the board a ton! Twice without their helping me, too. I was really impressed with myself. Will definitely be doing that again! We also had discussions about responsibilities and stuff but that’s not fun. We played charades after dinner… yeah

More posts to come! We are playing ultimate Frisbee on the beach tomorrow and if you know me you know that this will be a challenge for me!

Having a ton of fun, miss everyone!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

T Minus Four Days

Change makes me really uncomfortable. I got mad when my mom swapped the curtains at our house, I love the little routines in my day, I eat pretty much the same things all the time (apples, milk, carrots), I live for traditions with family and friends. This is probably why saying goodbye to everyone for the last few days (or month, really) has been so difficult. It's hard to believe that in 4 - oh god less than a week - days I will be leaving my house, my bed, my phone, my hometown for 8 months. I already said goodbyes to my family in Paris (crazy), and now with everyone headed back to college from labor day weekend, it's really sinking in that I won't see anyone until next summer. Can't stop imagining all the good times my friends will have when they see each other over Thanksgiving break when I'm in Peru, and my family having Christmas without me... I have this totally irrational - I guess - fear that everyone is going to forget me while I'm gone (pleeeeaasseee hang out with mee!).

But I just have to say thank you to ALL my family and friends who made this summer awesome. It's really a blessing that I have so much to miss next year.

So, my emotional turmoil being said, I am REALLY excited to be heading off on this adventure. I have been waiting for this all year, after all - it is definitely going to be an incredible experience. Other than that I don't really know what to expect! I'll try to update this thing as often as I can... PLEASE comment or email me or facebook me or SOMETHING with news from home. Next time I write on this I'll be in Costa Rica! Wo0o0o0o0o