Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bartolome island Galapagos day 3

Here's pictures from today.. we went to Bartolome island which is pretty much barren besides volcanic ash and rock. But there were some dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, penguins, and plenty of fish to see while snorkeling.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

1st and 2nd Day in Galapagos

We left Quito at 7 am Tuesday morning.. flew out at 915 and had to stop in another city for about an hour. We got to Galapagos at about 1:00 Tuesday afternoon. The airport and getting to Puerto Arroyo was chaotic but we made here around 2ish. We went to the Charles Darwin Center and walked around town for a while. We saw some land iguanas and tortoises at the Darwin center and then a fishing market down the road from our hotel that they were just bringing in from the sea. Today (Wednesday) we took a snorkeling tour around Santa Cruz island. Got to see some blue footed boobies and sea lions up close but the current was to strong to swim with the sea lions. At another spot we swam with sea iguanas and sea turtles. Then we hiked to a small lagoon and then to Tortuga beach which was about a two hour walk there and back. It was beautiful though. Unfortunately we didnt take the digital camera today so we dont have pictures I can post.. which was a mistake so we only have pictures on the water camera. Tomorrow we go to Bartolome island to see penguins and do some more snorkeling and we'll take the camera! Here's some pictures from yesterday. (Yes Felix, I said hello to Mr. Darwin for you!)


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last Days of School

Today was the last day of school! Yesterday was the last time I actually had any classes because today was a half day and the classes I would have taught were in the afternoon.. so I graded all morning and watched some of the Elementary christmas show.. I'll post some pictures and videos soon. It was a lot of good/frustrating experiences but I'm ready to be done and move on... do a little vacationing and then get home! 2 months was a enough time but I'm definitely coming back sometime (to vacation). Tuesday the school put on a Christmas party for the staff after school. They dont mess around.. there was a live band in the gym and a ton of food and candy. One piece of candy was a ball of white and dark chocolate with Cream of Whiskey inside it... shows how relaxed they are! And they gave us all a red scarf. Yesterday one of the sections surprised me with two posters, a powerpoint of some pictures, and a song. Never thought I'd have a song sang to me! One girl sang most of the song and then the whole class chymed in. It was about remembering people when their gone..  It was pretty cool and really nice. I should have video taped it. I guess I must have done something right with them... even though it was a struggle at times. I tried to figure out how to share the powerpoint they made on here but I can't get it to work.. if you want to see it let me know and I can email it to you.. its pretty funny.. they included the Z.W. Dux logo because a while back I showed them a quick video of Z. W. playing at Ford Field and I guess they remembered the team name.. I  was really surprised to see the logo on the first slide of the powerpoint but it was cool. The pictures of them dressed up was from Halloween.

Here's the class. The girl in the middle bending over was the one who sang. We had a lab yesterday, thats why they're all wearing white.

I'm not really sure what the plan is for tomorrow yet. I think were going to an orphanage to help out . Christmas Eve were just celebrating with the family here and having a big dinner. They couldn't find a turkey so instead were having shrimp, crab, lobster, and who knows what else.. I think it will be good though. Sunday I think were going to a relatives house for a big lunch and then picking up Ma at night. They don't really do presents.. at least not my family. Most other families do, and I think we'll exchange some small gifts but nothing to big. Usually here Christmas Eve night is when everyone gets together and then everyone heads to the beach. A lot of my students are going there and my family leaves the 26th for a week at the beach. Then the 27th its off to the Galapagos! Hope everyone has a great Christmas!

Merry Chirstmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Catching Up.. This weekend and last weekend

Havent had a chance to post much this week so I'm going to try to catch up on everything. Last weekend was the trip to the jungle.. I put some more pictures up on the link below. It was amazing. The first stop we made on Saturday was at a monkey reserve. They are monkey's that were either pets or have something wrong with them (one was missing a hand).. they raise them there until they can be let back out into the jungle a few miles away. The jungle we went to didnt have native monkeys.. which was kinda disappointing. But we got to hang out with the ones there. They love people.. they will just come up to you and you can put your hand out and they will climb up you. They also like playing with the dog thats there and they have an otter and a couple other jungle animals. Next we went to a tribal jungle village. We got our faces painted by the locals with the juice of some nut that can be cracked open. We needed it because they were having a Christmas celebration at one of the huts that we were going to attend. The celebration consisted of everyone sitting around the outside in a cirlce with people in the middle dancing and yelling and beating drums. Also women would come around constantly to people sitting around the outside and pour chicha. It was alcohol made from the yuca plant root. It did not taste good at all and I only had two sips of it just because otherwise I felt bad for not taking it. I'm really glad I only chose to drink it twice because when we got back to Quito we found out how they made it. Basically women in the village chew on the yuca root and then spit it out into a large bowl.. several women do this to make a lot. Then they let it ferment for a few days and then drink it. So your pretty much drinking several women saliva, some little bits of yuca, and the juice from the yuca.. it was more disgusting after I found out what it was. A lot of people get parasites from drinking it but I've felt fine all week. After the celebration we canoed down a river to our lodge and ate lunch. Then we went on a small hike to a waterfall, swam, and then hiked to another lodge and climbed up to a lookout point where they had some hammocks and a rope swing. The scenery was really cool. Sunday we hiked from 9 am until about 3 pm. Some of the time were weren't even on a trail.. we were literally hiking through the jungle which is not easy because of how thick it is. Our guide showed us how to make a torch, use fiber from a plant to make really strong string, and plants and insects to eat. We ate the heart of a palm tree.. which was really good, termites, lemon ants, a random leaf, and snorted a mixture of water and the juice from a leaf. The guide called it the coke tree because its best to snort the mixture like cocaine.. but its not bad for you.. its actually used for headaches and to clear your sinuses. The lodge we stayed in was pretty basic.. bunk beds with a roof overtop and four walls but everything is open. We had to sleep with mosquito nets over us which is not very comfortable because its constantly touching you. It felt a lot like camping except the bugs at night are waaayy louder!

Last week at school I had to do a lot of grading of homework and a quiz.. most classes did terrible on it because they didn't study or come in for help... which apparently is to much to ask of them.. they just want the answers pretty much. Next week we only have 4 days and Thursday is a half day. I actually probably dont have to even go Thursday since the two classes I would have to teach are in the afternoon and a half day only goes through 4th period. But I might go to the elementary christmas show since I wont have anything else to do. Thursday or Friday me and Meghan are going to help out a local church, or orphanage, or something like that since we dont have school.. still trying to figure out what we can do. Peter leaves tomorrow so were going out for dinner tonight with all the student teachers and some of their teachers. Katy leaves Thursday and I think Maggie leaves Saturday so by the end of this week everyone will be gone except me and Meghan...  she's leaving the day we leave for Galapagos... which is coming soon! (27th)

This weekend me Peter and Meghan went to her host families farm in Santa Domingo.. its about 3 hours from Quito but we didnt have to take a bus luckily.. her mom drove us after school Friday. We just hung out Friday night and had a really good dinner.. we had a pork leg made in a clay oven heated by fire. Saturday we walked around the house which has some cocao plants on it along with macadamia nut trees, lemon trees, banana trees, plantaines, bamboo, and two huge tortoises. Theres a male and female and they are both galapagos tortoises. The male is massive! They're over a 100 years old and I think Meghans host dad's (Lars) father brought them there. It was originally his farm and then Lars and his brother took over. Where the house is is a large gated community and they sell lots for houses and are developing some more land for houses to go on. Its a really nice place. Across the road is where the actual farm is.. he had 200 acres.. most of which is filled with cocao trees. He doesnt make chocolate anymore, he just sells the seeds and sells some of the plants to Europe. We cut one pod open and there are probably 25 seeds inside. If you bite into them they are really bitter and nasty because the seed has to ferment which makes the chocolate taste. But they have a white film around them that you can suck on which is reallly sweet and sour.. its basically like candy and it was really good. We drove all over the farm.. he has a bamboo forest which he plans to cut and sell soon as well as some tree's from India that are going to make him a lot of money along with some white mahgoney trees. His dad baically just planted all sorts of different things and now they are worth a lot of money. He also has some other fruit trees and more macadamia nut trees.. we got to crack open the shell and eat the fresh nut which are delicious. The farm is beautiful though and really interesting.. its like driving through the jungle. Her family is really awesome to... they are pretty much my second host family. Lars has stories about everything because he had almost every job imaginable and traveled a lot. Cathy is a teacher at school and is really nice.. she will do about anything for us.. they are a lot of fun.
Two more weeks and I'll be home!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Welcome to La Selva (the Jungle)

Here's a link to pictures and videos of the jungle this past weekend. I'll probably be able to get more up later from other people. There's a description on most of them and I'll post more on here later. Very busy lately! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Explosion Today - Weekend

I thought I survived an Earthquake today but it wasn't one. At about 11 today I was in my classroom.. luckily with no one else, working on the computer when a huge really loud explosion went off. It was followed by the sound of shattering glass but it didn't compare to the sound of the explosion. I started walking away from the windows thinking it was an Earthquake but noticed everyone running outside to see the glass. The classroom below mine had one of its windows completely shatter and fall out onto the cement from the wave of the explosion. Apparently ammunitions.. gun powder and grenades, were accidentally lit off at a specialized police training center north of our school during a training session. After I heard everything I went outside and you could see the top of the mushroom cloud fading away and a lot of smoke. 4 people died and 10 were injured and a school closer to it had the same thing happen with some injuries. It happened probably less than 1km away. It was pretty crazy.. no one had any idea what was going on and eventually they went over the loud speaker and said that everything was fine at the school and that there wouldn't be an evacuation. 
After school we went to Mariscal to get some things at a small market and then stayed there to watch the Liga soccer game. It's a smaller local team in Ecuador and they played for the championship so everyone was going crazy at the bars. 
We also decided that we are going to the jungle this weekend! Pretty last minute but were going on a two day tour leaving tomorrow night and getting back Sunday. The elementary part of the school is having a Christmas party tomorrow afternoon and I got invited.. I guess because I'm the only student teacher in secondary and all the other ones are in elementary.. but were leaving after that and taking a  bus to Banos where we were a few weekends ago (Hopefully the volcano nearby doesn't explode!) We spend the night there and then the guides pick us up in Banos Sat. morning and take us 1.5 hours away to the edge of the jungle. We going to do some hiking mostly but its all guided and we will get to see some pretty cool things I think.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Rest of the Long Weekend

Sunday we left for Papallacta.. a really small town two hours away. We had to switch buses halfway which was nice to break it up but on the way there the bus driver let us off in the middle of nowhere pretty much. Me Peter and Meghan were the last to get off and he told us to just walk down this path. Luckily after passing some farms and houses we made it to a tar road and better yet only a minute later the other bus we needed happened to go by so we hopped in. But the bus was completely full so we had to stand the rest of the way.. which was only about 45 mins. The town is really small and pretty much is only known for their hot springs and hiking. We dropped our stuff off and then walked up the road to the really expensive resort that has a lot of hot springs at different temperatures and a spa.. its really nice. The hot springs are basically just big pools with hot water that is naturally heated from the volcano near by. Some are shallow some deep and each one is a little bit different temperature and one is really cold. It was really relaxing and the scenery is amazing. When we got back to our hostel the owner was there and said for 3 dollars each we could go to her other hostel up the road which was a lot nicer... the place we were going to stay was pretty gross. So we did that and had one big room with a fireplace and our own hot spring tub inside. They had their own pools outside as well. The town is also known for their trout.. they have a big trout farm there.. so we got that for dinner which was really good. The next morning we hiked up a trail next to our hostel. The trail started by going through a horse's pasture and ended with climbing basically straight up with the help of ropes to pull yourself up. The top ended up being on a small peak that was a cow pasture. The cows were down below us but you could see a long ways and it was really nice up there. We got home yesterday around 5 and then went to Peter's teachers house to play a card game called cuerenta (that's 40 in English). Its tradition to play it this weekend because of the fiesta de Quito. Even at school last week Thursday and Friday they set up tables for students to play and they usually gamble on the games. Also they have small buses called Chivas this weekend that are all open on the sides and usually a band is on top. Everyone just drinks, dances, yells, and sings on the bus and they just drive around the city. We didn't go on one but we seen plenty.. the people on them are crazy.
This morning I went to the mall with Alba, Juanfrancisco, and Maria because they had to get some things and we saw two places where drunk drivers from last night crashed. One person took out a stop light and another went into the metal and brick fence along the outside of a house.. some of the car parts were still there. I guess it happens every time on the night before Quito Day because everyone drinks all night.
I don't have any pictures yet from the trip to Papallacta because I need to get them from Meghan or Peter so hopefully they'll be up soon. But I got more from the baptism a few weeks ago so the whole family is in at least some of them. Also there's now a video in the bullfighting section.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bullfights and some of the Weekend

Last Wednesday night we went to the bullfights. It was cool to go to and experience but its pretty much the same thing over and over again... Someone stabs the bull and then stands in front of it as it comes at them.. and stabs it again. It is pretty crazy though and entertaining... and there's lots of blood. Once the bull comes out usually two guys on horses would stab it first to get it mad.. one time after the guy stabbed it, the bull knocked over the horse and the guy on it... it kept ramming its head into the horse but they were both fine after it stopped. There were seven fights and once their done, the matador either gets 1 or 2 of the bull's ears plus the tail depending on how well he did. Only one time the guy got two ears.. people next to us said they were not very good bullfights but I didn't know the difference it was fine.
Friday I only had two classes and each class had only half the students because most were at the bullfights that afternoon for Fiesta de Quito. I guess they were good ones and since we have a long weekend anyway the parents just pull them out early.
All this weekend people are partying for the Fiesta up until Tuesday. The streets in the town of Mariscal were completely packed Friday and Saturday night.. we went there both nights but not for very long since it was so busy. Saturday during the day we went to a big market two hours away in Otovalo. Me and Peter took the bus and then met Meghan and her host family there. Her host family is really cool. We shopped for a while and got some lunch there and then it started raining really hard and the bus station was a little ways away so all 6 of us packed into the car on the way home. It was a tight ride.. but we stopped halfway and got some food. The market is huge though.. you could get lost when your in the middle of it.. but they pretty much all sell the same or similar things. I'll post on the trip to Papallacta soon.. I forgot my camera so I have to get the pictures from Meghan or Peter soon anyway.
Pictures of bullfight:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trip to Banos

The trip to Banos over Thanksgiving was great! Thursday night before we left we had Thanksgiving dinner at Meghan's house which was really good. There´s some pictures of it on the link. We had everything we would at home and it was all homemade and really good.. I ate a lot. We got to Banos at about 2pm and it was a 3.5 hour ride on the bus. One thing I won´t miss is traveling everywhere on buses and taxis! Banos is a relatively small town but bigger than Mindo where we went on the last trip. It´s in a valley and at the base of an active volcano, Tungurahua. Actually its so active that after we left Banos on Sunday it had a small eruption... we missed it by a few hours. It would have been cool to see but they shut the roads down around Banos so we would have been stuck which would have not been good. And today it had another larger eruption and their evacuating more people now. While we were in Banos, there was a small earthquake in Quito on Friday night so we missed that to unfortunately.. it was small but it would have been cool to experience. Also in Quito on Saturday it hailed apparently so bad that the whole city was white and people were making snowmen out of the sleet and hail. Weird weather.. yesterday it was like 75 and perfect. Anyway when we got to Banos we rented small dune bugeys and a motorcycle. I got the motorcycle and the other four were in two dune bugeys. My bike was a 1990 something Suzuki DR 350 four stroke enduro. It sounded cool but it was a piece of junk.. the handlebars were bent, the back brakes didnt really work, the tachometer didn't work, and the front wheel had a slight wobble.  We drove them along the road to different waterfalls and some small towns. The ride was awesome though, the whole time you follow a river so your in a canyon with mountains on either side. There were four tunnels we had to go through and the road winds back and forth around the mountain. We went off-roading once up a trail but there were people at the top so we went back down quickly.
Saturday we went white water rafting. It was really cool and crazy! We had a really funny guide so it made it a lot of fun. The river is a tributary of the Amazon and the stretch we took was a class 3. Some parts were pretty crazy and the guide usually aimed for rocks or the wildest rapids. Peter and Maggy fell off once but we never flipped. At some points he would let us get out and just float on our backs.. one time we went through some big rapids. The guide had a camera and we bought a CD of the pictures for 5 dollars.. some of the pictures are of the other group that went with us but they show more of the background. We started the trip by jumping off a 30 ft bridge into the river.. it felt like you were falling forever. Sunday we left at about noon and stopped at one town on the way home where they make everything out of leather and sell it. It made the trip home a lot longer so it was good to finally be back.
This week we have school all five days but this weekend is another long weekend because we get next week Monday and Tuesday off for Quito days. Quito Day is actually next week Tuesday but they start celebrating it this week. All this week there are bullfights and we are going tomorrow night. This is the first year that they can't kill the bull in front of everyone when their done so some people are upset about it. This weekend we might go to Meghan´s host dad´s farm 4 hours away. He has a chocolate farm there..he just sells the nuts and.. some other fruits.. but the farmhouse is only about an hour from the beach so we might go there to.. not really sure yet.
 Link to Pictures.. there are some more of the soccer game and some videos:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

School and dog

Here's a link to some pictures of the school and of the dog Lucas. 

The dog never comes inside and pretty much stays in the side of the yard all day. No one ever walks with it or does anything with it.. I'm not really sure why they have it. But apparently that is typical for Ecuadorian families. They have a dog just to have one.. and maybe for protection I guess. Pretty much everyone has a dog here..I can hear three barking right now.. and if you don't have one you can find plenty of strays roaming the streets. In small towns like when we where in Mindo, and Banos will probably be the same, they are every where running around on the streets. One day we almost hit one on the way to school in the morning. Families that are from America or have lived in America actually walk their dogs and play with them and don't really like how Ecuadorians treat them but thats how it goes. 
The school is huge so the pictures are pretty much of just the high school part of the school. That day I took them they had to wear their formal uniforms which are skirts and red jackets for girls and slacks and red jackets for guys. I guess they were getting their picture taken for the yearbook so they had to wear them.. otherwise they never do. When I took the pictures they were on recess or first break which is from 1005 to 1025.. even though most students stay on break until about 1030. Thats how the school is.. there are really no rules or expectations.. its not a problem if students are late. Also they apparently have no policy on PDA. There is more touching, feeling, hugging, kissing, making out, holding hands, sitting on each others laps, or playing with each others hair between guys and girls than I have ever seen. It's hard to walk through the halls without walking past it... which is weird. But they can get away with it.. they could get away with about anything I think. Part of the reason is that its tradition in all of Ecuador to give a hug.. at least a partial hug, and a kiss on the cheek when you see someone or when you are leaving someone. Its not really a kiss on the cheek either its just touching cheeks basically and making a kiss noise.(Males just shake hands) Men are supposed to initialize it especially when your meeting someone for the first time... or anytime you see them again.. its a way of greeting a female.  But the students take it a little further than that usually. Also it stopped me in my tracks the first day when I seen a male student hugging and doing that to a female teacher. It looks wrong and weird.. but its just how it is and nothing is seen wrong with it... they do it because they like the teacher. I do not do that.. not to students.. and students haven't tried to do that to me. My teacher (a female) initialized it on Friday and did it again last Friday to say goodbye for the weekend..  kinda weird at first but its just the way it goes... its seen as rude not to. If I meet someone, like on Saturday when I had to meet a lot of the family, I do it but not at school.. it just feels wrong.
Thursday night Meghans family invited me and Peter over for their Thanksgiving diner because my family and his family do not celebrate it. Meghans family lived in the states for a while I think so thats why they still celebrate it. But it wont be an American turkey. Juanfrancisco was telling me that the President put a ban on all American turkeys from being imported to Ecuador... no one likes him here and they think he is crazy. He wanted everyone to support Ecuador and to buy turkey's from Ecuador only. Apparently the government puts bans on things all the time. He is also pretty much a socialist from what they have said. He wants everyone to be on the same level and helps the poor a lot. I guess he also lets almost anyone enter the country because he wants everyone to be accepting and equal. But no one likes this because then poor people come here and increase the crime and violence rate and is apparently why there is so much crime and stealing here in the city. Juanfrancisco said they caught Osama Bin Ladens cousin here in another big town called Guayaquil a few months ago and the president knew it but didn't do anything about it. Pretty crazy. But at least I get to eat turkey. Hope everyone thanksgiving is great!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The past few days and the Baptism

Thursday and Friday I took over one of the sections of the chemistry class. They are one of the better sections I think so they did pretty well so far. Tomorrow I take over another one and by the end of the week I'll have them all so I'm looking forward to that. This week is only a four day week because we have Friday off for Thanksgiving. This is the first time the school has given them a day off for it and we are pretty much the only school that does it because no one here celebrates Thanksgiving, unless some of the family is from the States or something. My family isn't going to do anything but for Meghans family its still a big deal.. so it just depends I guess. They are having a big potluck lunch for us on Thursday at the school for Thanksgiving. I think they give us the day off because half the staff is American. Last Thursday me and Peter played basketball with some of them again and then Friday we went out bowling with a bunch of them and their spouses so that was fun. They are all really easy to get along with and are a good time. The place we went was interesting.. it had like 10 lanes and then a room of pool tables and ping pong tables and was kinda in the middle of no where but with all of us there it was fine. Saturday was the baptism. There were people here flying around getting everything prepared at like 7 am. The food that was catered in had to be prepared yet so they just took over the kitchen and garage to make everything. The church was in the compound where we live and we went there at like 1130. It started at 12 and pretty much the priest just starts talking otherwise I wouldn't have known it was starting because some people sit, some stand, and some sit or stand on the sides of the church instead of the pughs. The church is really small and there were only probably 30 people there.. the rest came later. The service was about an hour, I didnt understand much of it and its a little different than a baptism in the States. The priest talks and some other people talked. We sang one song. Sometimes the priest kneels, sometimes we had to kneel.. even though not everyone did. About halfway through we had to shake peoples hands and say something and Alba came around to give everyone a hug. Thats when I thought it was done but it wasnt.. so not really sure what happened. They covered Rafiella's head in water and she didnt really like it.. but only cried for a couple minutes and then was fine again. Afterwards we went back to the house for the food. I sat with Juanfrancisco, their cousin Michelle who knows English really good which was nice, two of their other cousins, and an uncle who also knew English pretty good. First they came around with bread, sausage, champagne, and some other drink that I forget what it was called but it had some chopped up fruit in in some sort of sweet corn I guess.. they served everything to you. Then they came with a plate for dinner. On one plate it was a pork chop, chicken leg, two different sausages.. one wasnt very good.. and a potato. There was also salad and some sort of cheese sauce to put on the potato and a really good hot sauce to put on everything. Then they came around with a small steak and more sausage if you wanted it. It was all really good and had a lot of flavor. After that they brought the cake out which was carrot cake and was really good along with ice cream with strawberries. I was soo full afterwards. We got done eating at like 330 or something and then just hung out the rest of the day. Some people stayed until 10. It got kinda boring towards the end because everyone just sat around and talked and I couldnt understand most of them so me and David and some of the cousins played XBox for a while which helped pass the time. Overall it was good though. Today everyone was pretty lazy and I slept in which was nice because I kinda have a cold. I went with Juanfrancisco and Santiago to the mall later in the afternoon because they needed something and then we got something to eat and just drove around for a little bit. Then Santiagos brother aunt and mom came over like they did last Sunday and we got Papa Johns pizza. After they left Juanfrancisco took me to get some tea that is supposed to make you feel better because he kinda has a cold to but everywhere we went was closed. Annd we stopped by the place where David was playing soccer just for a second because Juanfrancisco thought it would embarrass him and be funny.
The pictures of the baptism are not very good... Im not much of a photographer.. which is also probably why a lot of them are blurry.  But their cousin Michelle took a lot of good ones I think so I'll try to get them from her soon and put them up. There are not many pictures of the game because only Meghan took her camera. Next week Friday we are leaving for Banos over Thanksgiving break... its a small town to the South of Quito but there are a lot of things to do there I guess. There's an active volcano, some cool mountain biking trails, rafting, waterfalls, and hot spring pools so that should be fun... even though I will miss the turkey, family, and Zeeland West at Ford Field! Go Dux!

Heres the link to the pictures.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Soccer Game

The soccer game was awesome yesterday! I can officially say I've been to a World Cup soccer game. The reason the game was so big and busy was because it was a qualifier game for the World Cup in like 3 years.. which doesn't make any sense to me but oh well it was fun to go to. It was a perfect day for the game.. probably 70 degrees and sun the whole time. We left school early and went to get some jerseys by the stadium for 5 bucks. Everywhere around the stadium was packed! Our tickets were for a certain section but general admission and from the looks of it, we weren't going to find a seat. People were already sitting in the walkways but we went down to like 15 rows up and some people said they had some seats in front of them so we took them. It was really nice of them and lucky for us and they were pretty cool. We were probably 10 rows up and about even with the goalie box.. so they were pretty good seats. The atmosphere there is crazy all the time. The Peru people were jumping around yelling stuff and then the rest of the stadium would jump around and yell stuff back... I didn't understand most of it but just tried to make it sound like what everyone else was saying. The Peru fans had this huge cannon.. at least thats what it sounded like.. that they would light off sometimes. It was like you see soccer on TV.. horns, whistles, and yelling the whole time... it was crazy. Also like you see on TV, soccer players are complete wimps. They always go down and fake something to try to get a foul and then they complain about it to the ref. Probably 3 or 4 different times a player would go down.. the golf cart with a stretcher on the back would come out followed by 4 medics running alongside it that were dressed in helmets, masks, gloves, and some silver outfit.. they looked like robots that would be in a war zone or something..  not sure why they needed it because no one was ever really hurt. They would put the guy on the stetcher, cart him off and then a minute later he was up on the sideline running around and then back into the game. But it was fun to yell at the Peru players when they were down.. I'm guessing what the crowd was saying wasnt really that nice but it was fun to yell it. And when they score the place goes even more nuts! Beer gets thrown from all angles.. we were pretty wet because they scored twice, people throw everything.. toliet paper, cups, paper, pretty much anything and usually try to get it on the field but rarely do. People jump and yell louder than before and everyone high fives everyone.. the old guy in front of me was so jacked up I thought he'd have a heart attack or tackle me because he loved it when they scored and traveled from NJ to watch the game. Ecuador scored twice in the second half and won 2-0 so everyone was happy... except the Peru people. They started throwing bottles at the Ecuador fans.. we weren't by them so we just watched.. and then Ecuador people would throw stuff back.. cops all the sudden came from everywhere and ran up and around the Peru section but not fights or anything to crazy happened. Then this guy tried to climb a 25 foot fence off to the side of us to get on the field and it was inevitable that he was going to fall because he was obviously pretty drunk. He made it to the top but couldn't get over it and fell back down onto concrete. It was kinda freaky to watch because everyone knew he was going to fall and everyone just watched. Once he fell half the cops, medics, and camera people went running back over to him.. he was moving his hand when he got on the stretcher but I think pretty much everything else was broken. Once we made it out we walked for like an hour because we kinda got lost and it was impossible to get a taxi but we eventually made it to Mariscal and got something to eat. It was a really cool experience and something I'll probably never do again. Only Meghan took her camera because I didn't want mine to get stolen so once she sends me the pictures I'll post them.
Tomorrow I take over one of the chemistry classes but probably not the rest until Monday. This Saturday David's (the middle brother) daughter Rafiella is getting baptized in the church down the road. Afterwards everyone is coming back here and having a party for it. I guess there getting food catered in and most of the family will be here so that should be fun.. I'll take some pictures and post them afterwards hopefully. Not sure what else is going on this weekend.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Here's a link to some more pictures. Click on the Teleferico link.

They are pictures from Sundays trip up to the peak of a mountain on the teleferico cable car, some on the equator, and a few others from ziplining. I'll try to take some school pictures this week and put them up in that same folder... I've been forgetting. Today my teacher was on a field trip with another class so I helped out a 7th grade science class. I'm going to help out with one of their sections a few times a week just to get some more experience. The lady is really nice and from Wisconsin. Today we got our tickets to the game tomorrow and then Meghans host mom cooked us dinner because she felt like it I guess. Tomorrow is game day!! Cant wait!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Past Week

Nothing to super crazy has happened since last Monday. The first week of school went well. I helped out in her chem classes and kept working on some planning for when I take over. It made it difficult at times this week because technology failed me several times. My external hard drive got a virus twice and my computer had a virus on it so bad that it wiped out everything. Luckily there's a guy at school in the library who a genius with computers. He fixed my external hard drive both times and completely rebuilt my computer for free.. which was really nice of him because otherwise it would have been quite a bit of money I think. I'm starting to get to know some of the students better but its really hard to learn their names when I have 120 of them and none of them have normal sounding names.  The other interesting thing about the school is that students call everyone by their first name. So everyone calls my teacher Lori and me Kyle.. they'll even call the principal by her first name.. its sounds really strange and takes a while to get used to. But they are all pretty nice.. they all say goodbye to both of us and some of them say thanks when they leave which also sounds kinda strange the first time you hear it.. probably because it never happens in the States. You can tell though that its a private school and they get spoiled by teachers and probably by the parents to. Teachers almost never give homework and if they do, it rarely comes back. Also if they do give homework the entire class will complain like its the end of the world. This is really annoying to me because they are never held accountable for things or have to work at something and follow through with it. They also never really get in trouble at school or have much discipline.. which is probably why they always talk during class. They think its being mean to not talk to others.. I told a few students to get back to work while they were in the computer lab working and they asked me why I was mad... I told them I wasn't but if they didn't get done it would be homework which got them back to work for a while at least.
Everyday after school when I get home Alba has a huge lunch/dinner ready for me. Usually its soup to start.. so far we've had celery soup which was really good, avocado soup which I dont like, potato soup was good, and one other kind that I dont know what it was but it was good. Then its a half plate of white rice.. always.. and then chicken in various forms, steak, or sausage. Also she usually has some type of beans or other potato food. One day it was lentils which were pretty good.. another time it was some sort of corn salad which wasn't that great.. another time like potatoes and something else in patties fried.. and another time cheese mixed in with potatoes and made into little balls which were really good. She usually also has salad and french fries sometimes also. Its a lot and usually I dont have to eat much after that. I thought I would lose weight here but not when I'm eating all that and when its soo good. Thursday after school I went and played basketball with some teachers from my school and some from other schools. This was the first time I really felt the altitude affect me. My lungs were on fire after only playing a game to 10. Running like that makes it more obvious that you get cant the same amount of oxygen. I was dead tired on Friday and I'm still a little sore. Friday night Ecuador's Soccer team played Paraguay which was a big game I guess. So we went to Mariscal, a small town in Quito, that has a lot of little bars and restaurants to watch the game. People here call it "Gringoland" because its where a lot of the foreigners go. It was crazy there! The streets were packed full of people and every bar was packed. It was like going to a college campus to watch a big college football game. People go crazy every time something big happens so it was really cool to watch. Ecuador lost but they did score once. When they scored the whole town was just yelling and screaming and jumping around. People in the streets were going crazy and in every bar down the road.. it was really fun to experience. Some of the teachers went out and we met them for a while and then Meghan's host brother took us around to some other places. But we get to experience the real thing this Tuesday! Ecuador plays Peru in Ecuador. Tomorrow after school were going to the stadium to buy tickets and jersey's. Tuesday were leaving school a little early because the game starts at 4. I am really excited to go and see it..  hopefully they win because I think the whole stadium will go crazy. A bunch of the other teachers from school are going to.
Saturday here wasn't very nice. It rained pretty much all day and was pretty cold. I just did some school stuff in the afternoon and watched football online since I finally had my computer back working. Saturday night me and the other student teachers went to a movie since it was nasty out and then got something to eat afterwards. But today was really nice! Probably the nicest day we've had so far. It was sunny and clear out all day. From our house I could see the top of a volcano that I've never seen before. It was covered in snow that the clouds usually cover up. Since it was so clear me and Meghan went to the teleferico (you can look up online). I don't know what it means exactly in Spanish but basically its an amusement park and it has a cable car that takes you to the peak of a mountain. Quito is at about 9,300 ft and the cable car takes you up to 13,250 ft! It takes about 8 minutes for the car to get up there and at times on a super steep angle. Once you get up there you can see all of Quito and can walk around on some trails. It's amazing up there. Your above a lot of the clouds or they are basically right above you or forming right above you. You can see several other higher peaks of the Andes mountains and there's some trails you can walk to where there is a super steep valley below. It was a lot harder to breathe up there! We hiked just a little ways and had to stop often to catch our breathe. Its also really quiet up there because there just nothing up there.. except a few llamas. You can look at the pictures but they still dont do it justice and its hard to explain how cool it is. When we got back down we went to the bus station and then took a bus to Mititad del Mundo.. its where the equator passes through Ecuador. They have a whole complex with little shops and restaurants and a monument where the equator is. Its actually not really the equator.. the equator is like 250 meters north of where the monument is but I guess they couldn't build everything there. They also have some little museums in the complex you can check out so we did that. One is full of huge insects found in Ecuador and other parts of the world that was really cool but the guy didn't let me take pictures. They also had some concerts going on in the middle so that was cool to see to. We were supposed to go to a crater from a volcano a few minutes away and another museum a few minutes away but they were both closed by the time we got there so we might go another time. We got a burger there but were not sure what kind of meat it was.. it was a little different so hopefully we don't get sick.. im sure we wont. Tonight Santiago's mom and aunt and brother came over and then I wrote this and plan to Skype with my beautiful girlfriend Heather Dreyer ;) Besides getting tickets and going to the game this week I'm not sure what else we'll do.. I'll probably play basketball again Thursday and hopefully have no more computer problems! I'll get pictures up soon of the trip today and of the school.. and a few others from zip-lining.

Monday, November 7, 2011

First Day of School

So I had my second first day of school this year. The bus comes at about 650am and we almost missed it today. As we opened the gate to the driveway the bus was getting ready to pull away but Alba honked and got him to stop. Im the first one on the bus in the morning and the bus isnt a typical school bus.. its more like a small greyhound. It goes all through the compound we live in and then towards the school to pick a few more people up. Teachers and students both ride the same bus. It takes about 35 minutes to get to school and you dont really need coffee to wake you up in the morning because the bus driver does it for you! Its pretty busy in the morning and we just fly through traffic, pull out in front of people, and almost rearend everyone... im starting to get used to it now. The school is really big.. mostly because its partly indoor and part outdoor. The hallways are mostly outdoors with a small roof overhead partially.. otherwise to walk from my class to the cafeteria you just walk outside. It rained all day so that made it interesting but it really wasnt to bad. My teacher is nice and pretty cool.. she is lower 30¨s and has taught here for 5 years or something. She showed me around in the morning. She is actually a teacher in the national part of the high school.. whereas I thought I would be in the international part. But it turns out the students know english really well even though most of their other classes are in spanish.  She kinda mixes between each when shes teaching even though its supposed to be all in english.. so that might be a little challenge once I start teaching. I helped out little bit with two of her classes today and they spoke pretty good english to me so it should be alright. The schedule is a lot different. They operate on a 6 day week.. so today was day 5 tomorrow day 6 and Wednesday will be day 1. Each day she has a different number of chemistry classes. So today if I would have been teaching I only would have taught two periods (45mins) out of the eight total during the school day. So today since I had a lot of free time I just worked on planning some things in the library most of the day and went to her two chem classes. In the future Ill probably help out her other class that she teaches and maybe do a few things with the biology teacher and maybe the middle school teacher. Tomorrow I think we have 4 periods of chemistry and then she has 2 periods of her other class. And the classes come at different times.. so today we had chem A during 5th hour and tomorrow we have them during 2nd hour. We had Chem D also today but we dont have them tomorrow but we have Chem B and C tomorrow.. pretty confusing. We also get 2 20 minute breaks.. one in the morning at another at like 1250. My teacher lets the students talk a lot when shes talking which I guess is pretty usual at the school.. so that might be a little challenging when I take over. But overall the day went well and pretty quick. School gets done at 245 but teachers have to stay until 330 because the President mandates it I guess. Then we take a teachers only bus back to our houses. Luckily Im not the last one off but it doesnt drop you off right in front of the house.. in the afternoon we have to walk a few blocks. Luckily today Meghans mom who is also a teacher and lives down the road had her son pick us up so we didnt have to go through the rain. I think I start teaching and taking over in like 1.5 weeks. The staff is pretty young and the school is pretty laid back. Students wear uniforms.. of sweatpants and sweatshirts.. and a lot of the staff just wore jeans and a shirt. There are a few from Michigan and a lot from the States. They were all nice and I might play B-ball or soccer with them later in the week. I think thats it for now.. Ill try to take some pictures of the school this week yet.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mindo Trip

So we made it back from Mindo last night. Here's a link to some pictures.. click on Mindo trip.

The trip was amazing. I did and saw more things in two days that I ever thought I would see or do in a lifetime. The trip started a little rough. Me and Meghan took a taxi together to meet the other two girls at the bus station since she lives right down the road from me. But the taxi driver took us to the wrong bus station. We were looking and calling Katy and walked around the entire station before figuring out there was no way we were at the same station as the other girls. We figured this out about 5 minutes before the bus was supposed to leave. So we jumped on another taxi and headed to the correct station. Luckily, Katy was able to hold off the bus leaving for about ten minutes.. and we got there just as the guard was yelling at the bus driver to leave because it was already late. But we made it! The bus is like a greyhound and it was pretty empty which was nice. The ride was crazy though! Once you get out of Quito and into the mountains you are never going straight or on a level road for more than 100 feet probably. Its constantly winding back and forth up and down with mountains on one side and huge valleys on the other. And the bus driver tries to make really good time so he's on the gas and then riding the air brakes down hills and around corners. To make it crazier, we pass cars, trucks, other buses, and anything thats in the way pretty much. They pass around blind corners and going up and down hill and into oncoming traffic.. once it was a cop. Theres a video on the link to pictures of some of the ride but it doesnt really do it justice. If you get motion sickeness easily you wouldnt last more than a few minutes on the bus. But we got there Tuesday at about 1130.. we found out later that the other guy (Peter, who's also student teaching at the school)that was supposed to be on our bus ended up missing it because he got rear ended in the taxi cab on the way to the station and also got brought to the wrong station. The town of Mindo is tiny.. there is one main paved road and thats it.. the rest are some gravel roads going from it. But there is a lot to do there... its a town that Quito people go to on vacation. When we got there the town was dead but by the time we left it was crazy busy because Tuesday and Wendesday were Ecuadorian Holidays and then everyone has the rest of the week off so Thursday everyone was coming into the town and it was a lot more busy. We got some pizza Tuesday afternoon which was really good and then we went ziplining. We did ten lines and you hike a little bit between each line. There are two guides that go with you that hook you up. The views were awesome! Your going across huge valleys sometimes hundreds of meters below you. One time the guide hook me up to him.. and I flew like superman the whole way across the line.. so basically I was facing down towards the ground across the entire line.. it was crazy but really cool.. I dont have the picture of it but hopefully I will soon. After ziplining we went back to the hostal which was really nice and ate some dinner and just hung out there the rest of the night. Wednesday was really busy.. we waited for Peter to get there because he finally caught the bus and got to Mindo at about 11. Then we took a 25 minute truck ride up into the mountains on some really bad roads to a really long cable stretching across a huge valley.. I dont know how they got it from one end to the other but it was a really long distance. So we packed into this little car hooked up to the cable and two cables below the car that go to a small motor that a guy operates and it makes a pulley turn so the car goes away from the starting spot and towards the ending platform across the valley. It moves pretty fast and it still took about 2 mintues to get across the valley because its so long and deep. The views below were crazy.. we were so high above the valley floor and surrounded by mountains. Once you get to the other side you have to hike down to the waterfalls. Once you get to the first one you hike uphill to the following 5. The hiking was really cool because your going on a tiny trail through the jungle. It took a while to get to each one and it was pretty tiring towards the end. The waterfalls were all pretty big. One was probably 60 feet tall and we went in the water near it. Once your in the water your surrounded by rock and jungle.. it was amazing. On the third one, which was only maybe 30 feet high we swam right under the water. The water was pretty cold and with so much cold water hitting you it literally takes your breathe away. We only made it to four waterfalls because we had to get back to the cable car and back to our hostal  before 4 to get to the chololate factory tour. Hiking through mountains was a lot of work and you could tell the altitude made it harder to breathe but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. We got back and went a chocolate factory just outside of town. They showed us how they make the different types of chocolate and their plantation. We ate chocolate straight from the bean and he peeled open a fresh lemon from one of their trees which was really good and sour. At the end they gave us a free brownie and let us try the different chocolate sauces they make. After the tour we walked to a small lagoon further outside of Mindo for the frog concert. There is this pond with hostals and a restaurant around it deep in the jungle that a guy pretty much made for frogs and other insects to live because their habitat was getting destroyed. We ate dinner at the restaurant which overlooks the pond and then at 630 the guys talks for a little bit and all you here is different types of frogs croaking. After he talks we followed a guide through all the trails with a flashlight and he points out different types of frogs, spiders, and other insects to everyone. Some of them were posinous but they never got to close. It was all really cool but we couldnt take pictures because the flash would scare them away. He also showed us pieces of old dead wood that bacteria live in and they make proteins that illuminate the sticks so at night in the dark they are glow in the dark basically. They were actually really bright and really weird to see laying on the ground. Thursday we went in the morning to this butterfly garden where there are hundreds of butterflies flying around you. You can put some mashed up bananas on your finger and they will eat right from your hand. We also saw one coming out of its cacoon.. theres a video of it on the link. We left Thursday at 330 on a bus that was packed. People had to stand in the aisleway because all the seats were taken. It was a long ride back! To add to the crammed bus and winding roads it was pretty cold and rainy so we were literally driving through clouds most of the way back. Sometimes you couldnt see the trees in the valley because it was so thick. I was really glad to get off the bus and get back home! Last night everyone was pretty tired so I just went with my family to get something to eat. We got some burgers and fries at a little shop alongside the road. It was actually pretty good.. my host brother, JuanFrancisco, said that he usually only eats there after going to the bars.. I think that my real brother would probably agree ;)
We went back to eat with the brother, the mom, the daughter, and their cousin who comes over a lot. The dad is at the beach for the holiday and the middle brother is in Brazil. They are a pretty typical family and very laid back.. more than I thought they were at first. The older brother and dad pick on the daughter and the mom sticks up for the daughter. The two boys like to pick on the dad and vice-versa. They drop the F word in front of the parents sometimes.. even the daughter. They spend a lot of time with each other. Several times they will all hang out in the parents room and be on their laptops or watching TV. If I come in from somewhere the mom or oldest brother always will stop what their doing to talk to me.. so they are really nice. Last night we talked about how JuanFrancisco was at a concert and ate some "Magic Brownies" not on purpose but was freaking out from the weed they had in them.. it was really funny. He wanted me to go out  with him last night but I was dead tired.. and he said today that he stayed out until 4am. Today I have to do some things for school. Tomorrow we might go to a town that has a huge open fresh market but I'm not sure yet.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday and Pictures

Here's a link to pictures.. I hope it works.!cpZZ1QQtppZZ16

Putting up pictures on here doesnt work that well and takes a long time. Today I woke up to no one home except two workers finishing some thing on the house. The one worker knew what my breakfast was and I found out later he is like a maid.. he does dishes, works on the house, and will take my clothes to be dry cleaned. I had toast with smuckers peanut butter and jelly.. the kind thats all mixed together in one bottle.. but it was really good. Then I did some things for school and then ate lunch at 1 which was a really thin steak with rice and a salad of avacado, beans, and onions... it was all very good. In Ecuador they eat a big lunch instead of a big dinner like in the States. Then JuanFrancisco took me to pick up Katy and we went to a town in Quito called Murisucral.. I think. But there are a lot of little shops and small bars so we went to a few. Then we went to the old part of Quito.. the historical and central part. We went to a huge catholic church and went inside for a dollar. The ceilings were really tall.. like 70-80 feet high or more with stained glass everywhere. It was really interesting to see. Some people go there to pray throughout the day but otherwise its pretty much empty except on holidays maybe. Then we walked to Ecuadors "white house".. where the president lives. I think there was a protest going on because there were lots of people yelling something and a ton of police around with guns and shields. We took some pictures and then left just in case something happned but it was cool to see. The cab ride home was not soo good. It took over an hour becuase he didn't know how to get to my house. He would stop and ask random people on the streets directions and then try to talk to me in spanish which didnt work.. it was a little scary for a bit but I finally made it home. Tomorrow we leave for Mindol at 815 am. We take a 2 hour bus ride to the town and do some exploring. Hopefully you can figure out what the pictures are.. its hard to write descriptions for all of them!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


So I made it to Ecuador! The flight in was an hour late but everything went fine. Customs went well and I left the airport to find my family yelling my name. The entire family (except one brother) came to meet me. Alba is the mothers name, Santiago the father, Maria the daughter, JuanFrancisco the oldest son, and David is the younger son. We left the airport to go to Pizzza Hut. The food was pretty normal but Pizza Huts here are a lot nicer. JuanFrancisco and Alba speak english the best out of the whole family but they still speak mostly in spanish so I'm trying to pick up on a few words. We got to their house at maybe 10 at night. They live in a gated community. There are only two entrances to the neighborhood and both with security guards. The houses are pretty close to each other but they have a small backyard. They are up on a small ridge above the city of Quito so you can see some of the city below you when you look out the window. The house is very nice, they renovated a lot of it. I have my own room and bathroom. The bathroom is all brand new, new sink and really nice shower... nothing like I've seen before. I'll put up pictures soon hopefully... there internet is currently out. The altitude wasn't really a big deal. I noticed a little shortness of breathe but didn't feel sick at all. My bed is pretty big but also pretty hard. I slept until about 10:30 Sunday morning. Alba made me eggs with ham and tomotoes in them.. it was really good and a lot like home. I had coffee and some fruit called babaca.. it tastes like a mix between an orange and a pear but really sweet and really good. The coffee is columbian but its just like cocoa powder because you just mix it with hot water. After breakfest Alba took me and Maria to the supermarket to get some groceries. Its a lot like a family fare.. they have pretty much everything. I didnt think everything would be so similar to the States but it pretty much is... except the language and driving. After the supermarket we went to pick up David's girlfriend and their daughter. David (22) and his girlfriend have a 7 month old daughter. She is very cute and the whole family adores her. Once we got back home we weren't home long as me and JuanFrancisco had to go back to town because David left his phone at a store. This was another interesting driving experience. JuanFrancisco (27) drives like everyone else.. no care for stop lights usually and you just honk to get someone out of the way. We were supposed to pay a toll to go on one road but we just went 30 mph through the checkpoint. That road winded around the mountains and we were going about 60 mph weaving through traffic.. it was quite an experience. When we got back we ate lunch with the whole family.. chicken, rice, potatoes, salad and more fruit. They have homemade hot sauce but its really not that hot.. I think its just mayo and something else so its a little spicy. A few hours after lunch we went to the mall to get me a cell phone. It was 55 dollars and then I just pay whenever I need minutes. Its only a few cents for a call to a cell phone in ecuador. We hung out at the mall for a while and went to  a few stores. Me and JuanFrancisco played the Ecuadorian lotto.. I didnt win but he won a few times and bought more tickets until he finally lost. We went with the whole family and a family friend Michelle. Her mom works at the school I will teach at next week Monday. I also got some sunscreen and bugspray for a trip me and the two other GV girls are going to on Tuesday. They were both more expensive than in the US. On Tuesday we are going to the town of Mindol. We are staying at a hostel (basically a small hotel) that one of the teacher's owns. Were staying until Thursday and going ziplining through the forests and some hiking to waterfalls. Also they call it the "Cloud Forest" because at some times during the day its covered in clouds. When we got back to the house after the mall we ate some corn with cheese and hot sauce on it. Its not like sweet corn.. its bigger kernals and tastes like popcorn when you put cheese on it. We also drove around the old part of town where there are huge catholic churches on almost every corner. It was very rustic and authentic. After we ate, Santiago showed me around the outside of the house and some additions he put on. Then me and JuanFrancisco watched some TV show called Top Gear on his projector that projects a huge screen on his wall. They dont have regular TV right now but he downloads this show I guess. Then I wrote this and plan to go to bed soon. Not sure what tomorow has in store.. probably meet up with Meghan and Katy who go to GV. Meghan and her family actually live only a few houses down from me. I'll try to get some pictures up soon and tell about my trip.