This Saturday completes my second week of being home in the USA. Looking back on the past four months I have made so many memories that have impacted my life; from working in a public hospital in the largest city of Ecuador to building homes for homeless people in a riverside village, so many events have opened my eyes to the needs of people on a global scale. I have also made so many friends from all over the world. Three of my Ecuadorian friends are studying at universities in the United States this semester; I will be visiting them and bringing them to visit William Woods University. Two of my other Ecuadorian friends are coming from Ecuador to experience an American “Spring Break” at the famous Panama City Beach, FL with me. I still cannot fathom that four months have gone by since I have last been in the USA and I am anxiously awaiting my return to the WWU campus for my final semester. Three reasons I am glad I am home, 1) Snickers cost $0.75 here compared to the $1.50 in Ecuador, 2) Taco Bell, and 3) I have my own car. I am already missing my Ecuadorian lifestyle and family. Once I stepped off my plane in Saint Louis I instantly experienced ‘climate shock’, I am still freezing here in comparison to +90 degrees weather I have had the past four months.
I hope everyone had a nice Christmas and a happy New Year with their friends and family, I know I was very grateful for spending Christmas with my family after missing Thanksgiving with them. I also think it would have been difficult to spend Christmas in a climate with palm trees and humidity; I am too accustomed to the cold that goes along with the Christmas season here in Missouri. I was very thankful I got to spend New Year’s Eve with some of my best friends in St. Charles, Missouri.
Well I have procrastinated enough on purchasing my books for my final semester at WWU so I must complete the order. Everyone have a good remainder of break, see you soon, and take care, “cuidate”.
This past week I went with four friends to one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Galapagos Islands. First of all you need to know this trip was very random and was not planned in advanced. Last Monday I was just wasting time and searching flight deals on “Cyber Monday” when I stumbled on a round-trip ticket from my city of Guayaquil, Ecuador to San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands for under $200, I bought the ticket instantly; I was also grateful enough to talk four of my other friends into buying a ticket to accompany me as well. So the following Friday my friends and I packed up and left for the Galapagos Islands.
While flying to San Cristobal right before landing I watched as our plane lowered and the island came into focus so much clearer, my first thought: I have never seen water so crystal clear before. As I stepped off the plane, I took my first step in paradise. Charles Darwin proposed his “Origen of Species” after his voyage to the Galapagos Islands, however I know I stumbled upon the “Garden of Eden”.
My days consisted of swimming side by side with sea lions, sharks, sea turtles, and many colorful fish. I saw thousands of different birds, including the Darwin Finches, and I walked up to a lagoon inside the crater of an inactive volcano. Humans and nature are not scared of one another there, there is no competition. These animals have no fear of humans, I was literally centimeters from baby sea lions and I even had some finches land on my shoulder.
While in the Galapagos I visited two different islands: San Cristobal and Santa Cruz. I went to the famous Tortuga Bay, I snorkeled, went to Puerto Chino beach, and visited El Junico Lagoon (the only source of freshwater on any of the Galapagos Islands). Oh and I forgot to mention, the last night on the island my friends and I slept in sleeping bags on the beach-the coolest thing I have ever done, the stars were amazing.
I truly enjoyed my five day adventure in the Galapagos Islands. I highly recommend anyone who has the opportunity to visit these rare, ecologically important islands, takes that opportunity; it was a trip of a lifetime for me. I plan to one day return to the islands when I have more time to explore more of the islands. It was very hard to leave paradise and return to Guayaquil, however, I know one day I will go back.
Best wishes to you all, I am home in 15 days!
This past week has been very busy for me. On Saturday the International office at the university I am attending here in Ecuador, Universidad Espiritu Santo (UEES), participated in a house building project with the foundation-Hogar de Cristo. This non-profit organization builds homes for homeless people in a small country village outside of Guayaquil, Ecuador. My fellow international students and I traveled an hour and 30 minute via bus to the small village to assist in building two homes for families there. Prior to arriving in Ecuador I knew it was considered a "third-world country" however until arriving at this village, I had no clue just how "third-world" Ecuador really is. As soon as the bus parked and all of us started getting off the bus, it really hit me. I looked around me and I could not take in fast enough the images I was seeing, chickens, goats, pigs, dogs, and children all walking/running around with no order, havoc at its finest.
Our group split up into three smaller groups, two for house building and one on cooking duty. Each of the two house building groups had one carpenter with them. My group started from scratch, literally all we had was a small dusty plot of ground, lumber, two saws and two shovels; Hogar de Cristo supplied the walls for the house. We started digging holes for the placement of the foundation. After assembling all the lumber for the foundation we started building the floor. We had to build the house on stilts because here in this part of Ecuador they have two seasons, dry and wet. Along with wet season comes massive flooding and this small village is located about 1/2 of a mile in distance from a large river. We spent the entire day in the blistering sun building the house; occasionally I would take breaks and walk around the village and play with the children. After the completion of the house the most emotional part of the day was handing over the house to the family who would be living there. They were so thankful for what we had done. It was a special moment seeing how happy they were. I am happy I got to be a part of this project. Memories I made from this day will ever be engraved in me.
That was my weekend here in Ecuador. This next week I have a little more free time-I plan on going to the beach! I am coming home in 38 days; I cannot believe four months is almost over. I have made so many memories and friends in this unique country.
Enjoy my pictures and if you have any questions please feel free to ask.
Buenos días todos,
Wooohooo, first blog posting today! I invite you to follow me on my journey here in Guayaquil, Ecuador in South America. I left the USA on August 27, 2012 with two stops, one in Ciudad de Guatemala (Guatemala City) and the other in Ciudad de Panamá (Panama City) before I reached my final destination, Quito, Ecuador. Quito is the capital of Ecuador and located in the Andes Mountains. I traveled the city of Quito and experienced the life of the ‘Sierra’. I also stepped on the equator, literally. I took numerous videos of indigenous tribes playing traditional music and it sounds amazing; I am eager to share.
The first thing to mention about Ecuador-the food is AMAZING. Almost every dish is served with rice and soup of some sort. Rice is a staple crop here so I have yet to eat a meal without rice and I have been here over two months. One of my favorite snacks here is patacones, fried green plantains, que rico, especially when they top it with queso! After departing from Quito we traveled to Chimborazo which is an inactive volcano here. My group started at the first refugee station and climbed to the second. I immediately felt the effects of the altitude and I had a hard time breathing. We were given cocoa tea which is supposed to help, needless to say, I was getting dizzy. On the descent I met the most famous Ecuadorian mountain climber who recently lost his legs in a climbing accident. After Chimborazo we went to other small towns in the Sierra and then embarked on our journey down the mountains to the coast where I will be living until December. Guayaquil, Ecuador is the largest city of Ecuador. When I first arrived I could not believe the huge gap between the two social classes. They say Ecuador has all three social classes: high, middle, and low class, but I have only seen, rich, richer, and poor. Once getting acquainted with my new city, I started my university, Universidad Espíritu Santo (UEES). I am studying Spanish here and interning at a local public hospital in the surgery department.
The President and owner of UEES is on the Board of Trustees at William Woods University, so our schools are kind of related. I started my internship at Luchadores del Norte which is a medical clinic in the poorest part of the city, I saw around 50 patients a day (8:00AM-11AM). I then moved on to Hospital Luis Vernaza, a public hospital that has more technology than Luchadores, I observe in the surgery department and get to assist when needed. Today I watched a 5in x 3 in tumor above the right kidney get taken out-awesome. Another awesome fact about Guayaquil, it is located only 40 minutes from the beach, needless to say, I have been several times. While Missouri continues to delve into fall and winter, Ecuador is only getting warmer and sunnier. J Well…I am off to lunch and I will continue to post and share my experiences, I will also post pictures and videos for you to keep up to date with my journey. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your Halloween!