AFS group

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

My Guayaquilanian AFS groupie :)

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:)


Saturday, August 9, 2008

I'm Lovin' It!!

I love the work that I'm doing!! This was my first real week on the job and it is awesome.

I found out that on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays I get to work out in the sectors and streets of Guayquil. On Monday and Wednesday I did visits in the homes of the kids that we are trying to help. We meet with the family, played games with the kids and made goals for the families to accomplish.

The kids that I have worked with so far are great. The first day I was there they just kept touching my skin and blonde hair, and looking at my blue eyes:) I got to play games with them and listen to them talk with my companion about their goals and such. On Thursday we visited kids in the street. It was muy chevre!:) I played futbol with them (I am awful:)) and there was a group of four little kids that I played with in the park. I have had many great experiences with this work so far and look forward to the ones to come!

I love the people in my ward. I got to go to church and everyone is so welcoming, warm and friendly! There is a boy that is 11 years old (same as Matt!) that speaks very good english and helps me out a lot! He is probably one of my best buds out here:)

I still get homesick every once in a while, but now that I am meeting more new people and making the effort to talk and listen, things are much better. I am already dreading the day that I am going to have to leave! I never thought that this early in the experience I would be wishing that I could stay longer than 5 months!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008


haha, it was bound to happen, right? :)

My dear friends, gather round as I recount my adventure. It begins on a seemingly normal day after a long 9 hours of endless translations at my wonderful new workplace in the which I am serving as a volunteer:) (it is called JUCONI and it helps to keep kids of the streets). My dear sweet coordinator Nadia had shown me the bus route that I was to take in order to return from my workplace to my home a few days earlier... now, I was going to try it out...

So ya, anyway, I was supposed to get off the bus at the temple and walk to my house from there. Well, I failed to do so, and as I saw the temple fading off into the distance, I figured I might have a problem... So I got off the bus and saw a young woman with her small baby and began to ask her in my broken english if she could help me:)

We walked along for a bit, but I couldn't really understand her because she spoke very quietly and kind of mumbly. We ended up walking by a police station which we walked over to, and numerous people began to gather as I attempted to explain my plight... haha, there was much laughing and merriment that ensued:) there were probably about 7 people there just asking me where I was from and all that good stuff. I had my house number, so someone used it to call my brother to come and get me:) while we waited we all just laughed and chatted (mostly about how I couldn't really understand much!)

When I got home, my mom just laughed at me and kept saying, "Tu perdiste! Tu perdiste!" ("You got lost!")

haha, it was all good fun and I made lots of new friends!! Hurray for the confusing bus system!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

¡¡Ay Carumba!!

Hmmm, where to begin? So much has happened in the last couple days, it is insanely hard! But a good experience nonetheless:)

I arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador with the other 4 Guayaquilians around 1:30 in the afternoon. We said goodbye to the others (my roomie Anouk!! Que triste:( ) earlier that day. We were all so nervous to meet our separate families!!and I met my familia!! I have a mother, Juana, a sister named Denisse who is 21, and a brother Christian that is 32. They live in a very nice home, with lots of flowers and a water fountain in the middle of the dining area!! Que bueno, ¿no? haha, I love having the extra keys on the keyboard:) ññ ¡¡ ¿¿

So yes, on Saturday I met my family and kind of got everything settled. It was very hard the first day because I could not understand anything really! They all talk so fast!! I also went to a discoteca with my sister. I didn't realize that it was a bar, so there were lots of drunk people and it was all very overwhelming, being in a new place with all these new people. But my sister drove me back home, so it was all good. This is by far the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life, and I have cried more than I have in a long time... ok, let's say I have cried more than I have in the past month (for those of you who know what I am talking about - ahem, Scott - because that was definitely the hardest thing I have ever done) but yes, every day gets a little bit easier:) I am understanding spanish better and I think that I am speaking it better?? No se.

I met another part of their family on Sunday. The older sister Ericka and her kids Ericka and Bodi? I think is their names. We drove into some sort of town with their friend Paula as well. We walked around a bit and looked through all the shops. It was a lot of fun:) and the two little kids are super cute!

So, I live 5 minutes away from the temple in Guayaquil!! It is only a short walk up a hill and then you are there!! I was so excited about that! And, the family told me that they have neighbors that are mormons that they would introduce me to. So hopefully I will be able to go to church with them:) I feel very blessed!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Soy gringa!! :)

Hola everybody!!! If you just happened upon this very lovely work of art (my blog:)) and have no idea why you are reading this, I might just ask you the same question:) Also, if you didn't know, I am in Quito, Ecuador!! Que bueno, no? I am here for the next week and then I will be in Guayaquil for the next 5 or 6 months with the program AFS (American Field Service) and I will be doing community service with los ninos. I will be living with a family during my stay that I will be meeting next week. In my family there will be the mother Juana, her son Christian, and her daughter Denisse. All that I know about them so far is that they are Catholic, they have dogs (yeah!!), and they have internet access, so I will be able to use it for this blog.

So far my stay in Quito has been muy bueno! There are 8 other people that are doing community service along with me:) there is Anouk from Montreal, Canada who speaks french and is CRAZY!! We laugh a lot:) Then Tone (pronounced "tuna") is from Norway and she is very sweet. Kristoffer is also from Norway and he is crazy as well. He seems to enjoy making fun of me and my accent, because I am an American... I think he is jealous:) The other Norwegian is Erika and then there are four Danes: Morten, Kenneth, Kristine, and Michelle. They are all a lot of fun to hang out with. Luckily they all speak english!

On Friday, July 18 I flew into Quito during a thunder and lightning storm! It was sweet:) just looking out the window and seeing the flashes of light. I met Anouk when we landed and now we are staying in a hostal for the week.

On Saturday, July 19, we met the others and had an orientation. I know... way exciting, huh? I seriously couldn't contain myself with all of the excitement:) that night we went out to a bar (I let them know before we went that I don't drink) and saw a little part of the city. There were little children that would try to sell you cigarettes on the street. It was so sad, there was one girl that had her baby brother slung on her back, and when I climbed in the taxi she kept knocking on my window:( It made me very grateful for all that I have!

On Sunday, July 20, we went to the Mitad del Mundo, which is supposedly where the equator is. So I got to be in the northern and southern hemisphere at the same time!! I know... way exciting:)

The past three days I have been having spanish classes. It is very exhausting!!! This whole week I will be learning spanish for 8 hours every day... By the end of each day I am very tired. But I guess it will all be worth it. We went to a market and the parque and tomorrow I get to learn how to salsa:) Every day I am becoming less of a gringa... if that is possible... I am still not used to all the looks that our group gets. And the honking. It is all very strange.

Some of my first impressions of Ecuador:
-the buses are INSANE! The drivers don't even wait for the doors to shut before they jolt off. I am sure the nine of us look absolutely ridiculous! We were falling all over the place and laughing our heads off - and the people on the bus just stared at us:) they go really fast and half the time people are hanging out the doors... es muy loco.
-I eat the exact same thing every single day for lunch and dinner. We start with some sort of soup followed by a plate of rice and vegetables with a different type of meat. So, there is usually no surprise there... oh, except, sometimes there is corn in the soup, which makes for a really good surprise:) Pretty much everything is fried. And I had no idea that there were so many ways of preparing bananas. They have banana chips, fried bananas, mini bananas, and today, there were bananas in my soup. Mmmm, delicious:) but it really is quite good, just the same every day.
-Everything is very colorful - the buildings, the streets, the graffiti that is all over. It is a lot of fun to be able to look at! The mountains are huge, which is good because I was afraid that I'd miss the mountains in Utah.

So, yes, that is my fun and goodness so far:) hurray!!! hasta luego!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008