AFS group

AFS group
Morten, Ericka, Kennet, Anouk, me, Tone, Kristina, and Kristoffer

My Guayaquilanian AFS groupie :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Okay, so I figured I'd start from the very beginning... If I repeat some things, I'm sorry! It's just easier almost for me to just start over!
So... the airport. I drove there with my mom and dad. I said bye to my mom on the street and my dad walked in with me. I think I felt a cross between complete fear and nauseousness... Or maybe I just had a lot of butterflies in my stomach! In either case, my dad gave me a few last instructions on how to get to my gate, and some tips for the flight. Then he gave me a hug, wished me good luck, and told me he loved me before I set off up the escalator. Saying goodbye was so hard!! This was my first time travelling alone, and I was so scared. But, I just took a couple deep breaths and focused on finding out where I was supposed to be.
I got on the plane and everything was settled. We finally took off and I think it was around then that it hit me... "I am really doing this!" I was on my way to Florida for a short orientation and then I was going to be in Ecuador. I kept thinking about what kinds of people I was going to meet, what the family would be like that I was staying with. I was worried about whether or not I would be able to find a church down there that I could go to, or if people would be accepting of my religion. I said a short little prayer for comfort, and my attitude changed from fear to excitement and contentment.
The orientation in Florida was good, but also a little nerve-racking. I met quite a few people - all the Americans that were going into the program. I found out that I was the only one doing the community service program, and that I was going to be the only American going to Ecuador. Oh boy! My nervousness grew at that moment, and I felt so alone!! All the others were doing the high school programs, and they were going to places like Chile and Costa Rica... We stayed one night there, and then all of us went to the airport the next morning. Once again, I was on the plane alone. By this point, I was just ready to get there and get settled.
I got into Quito, Ecuador in the late evening during a thunder/lightning storm. It was so cool to look out the window and see lightning from an airplane! I absolutely loved it! We touched down on the ground, and I went to collect my baggage. That was where I met my first AFS friend, Anouk! She is from Canada and was on the same flight as me, even though we didn't sit by each other. She came up to me and asked if I was with AFS, and I was like, "Yes!" So we grabbed our luggage and then we thought... "Now what?" We just kind of laughed and walked towards the doors leading outside and finally found a woman with AFS! We were then loaded up in a van and proceeded towards the hostel where we'd be staying for the next week. I attempted to talk to the driver in spanish... This was when I first realized how awful my spanish was! Anouk enjoyed laughing at my attempts, so at least there was some enjoyment that came out of it! We got to the hostel, ate our first Ecuatorian meal (soup with popcorn in it... it was actually quite tasty! and rice of course!) and then settled in for the night. Around midnight, there was a knock on the door to our apartment, and Tone from Norway had arrived!! We quickly introduced ourselves, which was fun, and then went to bed to see what the next day would hold for us!
So that is all for today! Hopefully I will be able to write again soon!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


So... I was pretty bad at keeping a journal and keeping up on my blog whilst in Ecuador. This is very sad to me, because I have so many amazing memories from there! So, I've decided that I am going to try and post a new memory as often as I can, so that I will be able to have something that will remind me of all the awesome experiences that I had. Writing is proving difficult and time-consuming, so what better way than through this blog? Hopefully as I go through pictures, it will jog my brain, and I'll be able to write down the things I learned and how much I found out about myself :) So much goodness to record!!

Friday, October 17, 2008


So, I think that it is officially time for a blog update!! Considering that it has been more than two weeks now!! AND, crazy thought: I am officially halfway through my Ecuadorian experience! Whoa, I can't believe how fast the time is flying:)

Well, let's see... where to begin... How about with my curse? My dear friend Emily from England had the curse at one point. She had the hospital sickness visits, the curse of the ever-leaking eye, siempre, siempre she was sick with something!! Well, she left for France, and ever since then, the mysterious curse has decided to pass itself along to me!

Let's begin at the beginning, as it is a good place to start:) Curse number 1... Sick!! Cough, splutter, boogers... all that good fun stuff! For a whole week - stuck in the house, unable to render my service!! And, I had been perfectly healthy up until this point. Coincidence?? I think not!!

Next curse: Curse of the burglarly... major scam consisting of 1,000 dollars mysteriously disappearing from my bank account. And all within two or three days!! (due to fraud I will get the money back thankfully!!)

Another: went to Cuenca (will expound on further in a moment:)) cured of my illness, and returned with a major fit of the cough!! AGAIN!! Cough, splutter... and if possible, even more nasty goobers than the last time! Ai yai yai!

Curse 4: Computer crash... unable to complete necessary documents for work, and am now stuck switching from comp to comp!

Curse 5: Ants in my water!! Yes, that is right!! I think this would have to be the worst of them all:)

Curse 6: Mosquitos... a plague of mosquitos....

Curse 7: Strange rash on my arm. Don't know if it is bug bites or sun exposure. Will get back to you on that one!!

Curse 8: iPod corrupted... AAAAH!!!

Curse 9: Walked under an air conditioner right as it decided to relieve itself of a whole lot of water!!

So yes, I do believe that this madness has to end soon. If anyone knows any magic remedies for uncurable curses, please let me know!!

So on to Cuenca:) It was so nice! It is a city in the Sierra, so as we took the four hour bus ride to get there I couldn't stop looking out the window at all the beautiful scenery. It is so different from Guayaquil. A lot of indigenous people live there and all the buildings are in the more antique architecture-style. So it was a more cozy feel. It was nice to see grass again... and there was no trash littering the streets!! Yeah!

While in Cuenca we visited the Panama Hat Museum which was super cool and rode a tour bus through the city during the evening (it was so cold!! Who would have thought that it would be cold in Ecuador??). We also visited the ruins of Incapirca and saw some llamas!! :) haha

So there is my update! Hope ya'll are doing great! Besos!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Election Day

So yesterday was Election Day in Ecuador. Ever since I got here there have been signs everywhere saying, "Vota no!" or "Si, mil veces, si!" It has also been the big topic of conversation among people. I still don't completely understand it all, even though I had it explained to me about four or five times, but what I do know about it is this: whichever vote wins, there will be a huge change in the constitution here. Those voting for no are generally the upper classes, si for the lower classes. If the si vote wins, I think there will be a lot more benefits given to the working class. There was also some talk of gay marriage rights and abortion. I am not sure which one corresponds to which (si or no). So yes, a lot of major decisions are contained in this one vote. Also, everyone has to go back to the place they were born to vote, so there were TONS OF PEOPLE!!!

Back to Election Day. I got up early to go to church. The family that I usually go with was downtown voting, so I decided to try and take a bus. I stood at the stop with a group of people for about 20 minutes or so, waiting as bus after bus just passed us by because they were completely full of people. Finally I was able to squeeze myself onto one.

After about five minutes the driver decided to go in a different direction to avoid traffic. Um, ah! I didn't know where I was!! We ended up at the Universidad de Guayaquil, where the traffic was stop and go because the streets were completely filled with people. It was completely ridiculous. I was able to recognize where I was though, so I got off the bus and squeezed my way through the people. I finally made it to the church, and with about 10 minutes to spare! (church starts at 11 and I left my house at 9:45) Phew, what a relief:)
Here we go with another update!! I know it has been a while since I have done it:/

So, what is new with me you ask? Oh, not much... just working, working, working!! But I love my work so it is all good. A couple weekends ago I had another Campamento but this time it was with all the little children, not the adolescents. We all squeezed into one bus - which I am telling you was quite the interesting experience - where we sang songs and had competitions to see which side of the bus was the loudest:) Once we got to the camp we were split into groups again and I was in the group "aguilas" which means eagles. It was a lot of fun, but really really hectic. I had the most free-spirited group, those little stinkers! But apart from them wandering off it was really great. We made little mini plays, cooked lots of delicious, greasy food, and played animal jungle games. We also told stories and the little kids were able to swim in the river.

Two weeks ago I taught another girl named Cindy. She is 15 years old and still doesn't know how to read. On Wednesday I read her a story on "the importance of controlling your emotions". Afterwards we talked a little bit about it and why it is important. It was a little difficult with my spanish, but I think that she got the message:) Then we just talked a little bit about whatever - things like what do you like to do? What type of dancing do you like? She showed me a couple dance moves, so maybe soon I will get that down:) With Karla, we went over the alphabet again. This time she wasn't so distracted thankfully! That crazy girl!!

A couple Saturdays ago I got to hang out with the other two volunteers from my work. They are Anna and Gemma from England and they are hear working on their own art project with the kids. It was quite nice! Haha, I love talking to them. Especially when they ask me questions like, "What do you fancy for lunch?" :) Sometimes I will immitate their accents, and Anna seems to get a kick out of it! That night I went dancing with Yessenia because it was her birthday. It was a lot of fun:) I finally figured out that I like dancing to Merengue (spelling?) It is the more up beat music. I still feel like a complete gringa when I dance, but all her friends were helping me out.

Last week I officially started what is called "Educacion Global". It is an education program through AFS. There are seven different themes that we have to learn, and then we will write up papers on each one, comparing the theme between Ecuador and our own homes (USA). For example, this week was on living conditions. We took a drive to see poor homes, rich homes, and the middle class. We learned about the wide gap between the rich and the poor here. We also learned that they have a garbage system where they just dump the garbage in random places and mix it up with dirt and stones to make petrol? If I understood what they were saying, I think that is what they were talking about. These dumps were literally right up next to the poor people's homes. It's pretty sad, and can't be all that healthy! We also saw rice fields and banana trees - we got to see how the people work that live on those farms. It was interesting stuff.

I also went to the city Guasmo during the educacion trip. We took a canoe out on the river, and we ate some cacao fruit, passion fruit, and these tiny little hot chili peppers right off of the plants that they grew on! mmm, they were delicious. The cacao plant is interesting. It is red, long and skinny. You break it open and there are these round white sticky balls inside. You suck on them until the white goop is all gone, and then you throw the seed away. I guess they dry the seeds and then afterwards crush them into chocolate powder! Pretty sweet, eh? The pepper was soo hot!! All our mouths were going numb just from taking a little bite:) We also went to a street market where they were selling these delicious sweets (haha, my favorite thing!)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Oh Rats!!

Um, ya so I've just been sitting here at the computer. It is now 1:30 in the morning and I am just finishing up some emails and all that good stuff. Anyway, I have a little friend that has decided to keep me company... YES THERE IS A RAT IN MY HOUSE!!!!! Oh my heck, I am freaking out! I can hear it scurrying around and squealing!! It keeps getting closer and closer!!! I think it wants to eat me and it probably can because the rats here are huge!! So just in case... Angi, I guess you can have my clothes. I have seen pictures on Facebook so I know you have been wearing them. Scott, I love you and I would like you to treasure our "ROCK" for always. Family and friends, I love you all and I couldn't have asked for anyone better in my life! It may have been short, but it is full of sweet and blissful memories that I will treasure always! Chiao!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oops :)

haha, so I guess it is about time that I update my blog... Sorry Sami :)

So let's see... where do I start! Ah, this is bad.
Well, I guess I will start from this weekend and go back from there, yes? Sounds like a plan? Great!!!

So this weekend on Friday I had a Campamento with my work. We went to a place called Montalvo with 50 adolescents that we are working with. It was so much fun! The place was really pretty with lots of tropical plants and such. All the teens were great to talk to. We were split into different groups and played different games and activities. There was also themes given to each group that represent a value that they presented to everyone else. I was the unofficial photographer and there are quite a few interesting model poses that they kept begging me to take. haha, it was all good fun. They also played a game of futbol and they are so amazing! I could just sit and watch them for hours :) the food was amazing, the presentations were fun, and it was great to see all the teens having a good time.

On Saturday I went with my other AFSers to Porto Cayo to hang out at a beach house. I got to play at the beach and that night we played an intense game of Ultimate Spoons!! It was oober intense:) haha, I used SPF 50 at the beach and still got burned!! The next day we got up bright and early and went out in this little tug boat. I couldn't help but sing a few pirate songs to myself:) I felt like I was on LOST, too... anyway, we went out into the sea and got to see some bellenas (whales!) Oh my heck, it was incredible. They are very graceful, beautiful animals, and we got somewhat close to them as well. After we got back on land we drove to a pool with this thick, goopy muck in it. It smelled like raw eggs, no lie. But it was cool, because we got to rub it all over ourselves and our skin felt way soft afterwards. After that we took the three hour ride back home!! I was very exhausted but it was great.

Last week I had my first Operation Amistad. It is where I go directly into the streets and play and talk to the kids that are working. I went with my coworker Emilio and there were probably like 10 kids or so that were running like crazy up to him:) we went to a park with them and played a round of a game similar to red rover. We also colored and played on the swing sets. I loved the kids. There were a couple girls that would always grab my hand while we were walking and they were so sweet. The only hard thing is to see how violent they are. They physically fight with each other a lot, but we aren't allowed to really do anything about it. Our work is a process that takes a long time, so for the present there isn't much I can do:( They just haven't been taught what is right and wrong, and I think that there is a lot of abuse in their homes as well. So I am glad that I get to try and help them overcome that.

Everything is going great with the church as well:) My ward is aweosme. I go with the Vega family, they just live down the street from me. The mother cracks me up, she is hilarious! I am beginning to understand the church lingo a lot better, so I am getting more out of the lessons every single week. And I feel like reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish helps a lot, too. I got to go to the temple already and it is beautiful. There were members there from another city that I got talking to and they were able to teach me some more church words. I also pass the temple every day on my way to work, so it has been a huge blessing:) I am also taking an institute class in the wee hours of the morning (okay, so 7 isn't all that bad) on the Old Testament, and the other day I said my first prayer out loud in spanish!! Yeah!!

So, update on the food... So far I have eaten cow heart, cow tongue, chicken feet, octopus, cow stomach (which was quite disgusting!) and I think that is all so far. I really like the bananas here. I never really cared all that much for them before... but now!! There is a thing called bollon that is verde bananas with queso, there are fried bananas, banana chips, and baked bananas. mmm, delicious! I also really like cocada and this bread called pan de yuca. I am going to have to learn how to cook so that when I get home I will be able to still eat them. I also really like the empanadas. Greasy, horribly unhealthy deliciousness:) I have also killed my first cockcroach, and have survived the mysterious bug bites/blisters that I had on my legs, so I think that I am holding up pretty good if you ask me:)

A couple weeks ago I had another trip with my AFS group for the monthly orientation. I can't believe that I've already been here for a month! We went to this place whose name I don't remember, but we got to take some fun pictures with the statutes, rode horses, hung out with ostriches, and rode this huge zipline! It was really cool:)

Hmmm, ¿que mas? I think that is all that I can think of for now. Sorry that this one is so long!! I hope you enjoyed it anyway:)