Sunday, September 30, 2007

Forgotten Celebrations

First and foremost, I am back!!! Sorry for the delay. It has been crazy here. I promise to tell you all about it but first I have a few announcements:

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY ALLIE!!! I know it was on Sept 4th. I had an ice cream for you :) I hope your day was wonderful. I miss you and love you.

CONGRATULATIONS BETHY on your engagement!! WOOHOO. I am so excited for you. This calls for my favorite quotations:

"There is nothing more noble or admirable than when two people who see eye to eye share a house as husband and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends!"

Best of luck to You and Justin. I can't wait for the wedding next fall. (I do believe I get a gold star for match-making in this instance :) )

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOANNE!! I miss you guys and the big blue house. I hope you are enjoying the fall with the little ones. Many hugs and kisses. (That was for Sept 19, I think.)

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO LINZ & ANDREW!!! May you have many many years of happiness together. I can't wait to sit down to have a drink with you when I get back. I MISS YOU GUYS! (Please see Homer quotation above.) Sept 23.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NANA!!! I miss you and love you. Also Sept. 23.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! Let's just say, despite that it was illegal to drink on my birthday because of the elections, I had a splendid day about which I will tell everyone later. (It was much better than last year as no police officers were involved :)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LIZ, my new Quito friend who is originally from the South (of the U.S. that is). She rocks!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Don't Freak Out, OK??

On Wednesday night, I arrived at my host family’s house in North Quito only to find my host dad speaking to neighbors in the street. It was around 8:30 p.m. and I was a leery about him being outside, as he told me not to walk around after 9. As I approached, he grimly spoke very rapidly about something that sounded like tips. I had no idea what he was saying in English or Spanish. He went jogging up the driveway, which is NOT him so I followed. I figured out what happened when he showed me the FIVE broken locks on the back door and saw the fridge gone. Turns out, my host family was robbed. Everything electronic was gone: the tv, the computer, the cd player and the FREAKING REFRIGERATOR!!!! Yet the thieves (which apparently was what he was trying to say in English when he said ‘tips’) broke into the two gated doors, the two back doors and the upstairs door (we have a steel door between the downstairs and the bedrooms upstairs, well it is a third world country). He insisted I run upstairs to check my things. My mattress was flipped over and the covers were thrown everywhere. One of my suitcases was empty, as the clothes were dispersed on the floor where they landed. By some stroke of extreme luck, the second suitcase was locked and untouched. This big black monstrosity contained my passport, camera, zip drive, and $200 cash. It sat peacefully on the floor near the window. The thieves could take a big ass fridge full of food but somehow managed to overlook my bag. (THANK GOD!). They also managed to leave two HUGE hand prints on the window. If this was the U.S. that would have been exceptionally stupid, but this is Ecuador and it means nothing because they do not have the technology to lift the prints. I am going to find a way even if it takes me some time. I refused to let anyone touch them.

The family has two daughters who are 3 and 5. The little chica was asleep but Frances, the older one was still up and was very upset because they manage to swipe her bike from the back. Understandably, she was very upset about what happened and refused to go to bed until my HM laid down with her. They took the bike but not the DVD player or the washer, which are commodities that seem to be as important as a fridge full of food, well one would think anyway.

We assessed the rest of the damage then my HD looked at me very seriously and asked, ¨Do you like pizza¨ in his best English. I had all I could not to laugh. The three of us sat down to a nice pizza dinner with Coca Cola. It was the strangest evening I’ve had in awhile.

I had been at my host family’ amazingly fortified house (or so it seemed) for three nights before they were robbed. I just cannot get over the refrigerator thing. Really, no one saw a big ass GE leave the house???

It is going to be a very interesting year.

Worry not, we are moving to my HM´s mother´s house this weekend where we’ll have a guard. Should be fun. I promise to keep you posted. Oh and whatever you do after reading this, DO NOT TELL MY PARENTS!!

In all sincerity though, all is well.

Stay tuned, I went hiking up an ENORMOUS mountain today and have pictures I’ll post soon.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

How I barely got to Quito, Ecuador

I know you all have been patiently waiting for me to write about how I finally got here so I shall indulge you now:

Saturday September 1, I arrived at Duke to attend Nick´s wedding. I was two seconds away from getting back on a plane to Maine because I was having the most severe panic attacks I have ever had in my whole entire life. The people at Logan airport probably thought I was a nutter because I kept busting into tears while waiting for my flight to North Carolina. I arrived at the Washington Duke, put on my black dress, then left for the church with my friends. I will comment on the ceremony and the events of that evening in a later post, but let´s just say a little bit of encouragment from my friends and some alcohol made me feel better about leaving for Edcuador the next morning at 5:30 a.m.

When I arrived at Miami International Airport, I was oddly calm for the first time in more than a week. I guess the realization that this was the last step made it easier to just DIVE RIGHT IN. I found the people in my group and immediately felt better. A lovely Miss Caitlin asked me if I felt overwhelmed and wanted to just go home. She was the first peron I encountered who was in the same position as as I was, which made me feel at ease. The rest of the group convened and enjoyed a nice meeting in a small conference room. Thirty seven people from all over the U.S. finally had the opportunity to express everything they felt and feared before arriving in South America. WHAT A RELIEF!!

Then we boarded a plane and four hours later, we landed 10,000 feet in the Andes in Quito, Ecuador. Another continent appeared before our eyes.

The group of individuals accompanying me on this amazing journey is astounding. I cannot convey enough how awesome they are. I´ve already made really good friends and met my lovely host family who THANK GOD speak some English because my Spanish needs help. I hope this improves dramatically during the month of orientation.

We have spent two days learning so much information my brain already hurts but in a good way. Today, we had a bus tour of the city, witnessed our first robbery scam, saw a demonstration, and the entire city of Quito from the 'Virgin Quito,' which is located at the top of an enormous mountain. It was spectacular.

So far everything is amazing. I´m a little scared of the sketchy stuff such as not knowing as much Spanish as I should, robbery scams, Ecua men, or how to use the bus I am suppose to take to get home tonight but I have to tell you how cool it is to sit in a internet cafe, Papayanet, with my two new friends, Brooke and Katie, drinking cervezas, using the internet by candle light and listening to some pretty cool American and Spanish music. Now if I could only figure out how to use the keyboard...

OHMYGODIAMINQUITOECUADOR!!!!!!!!

I love you guys so much and miss you. I can´t wait to tell you more about how awesome it is so far :)

Monday, September 03, 2007

ohmygodiminquito!!!

ALOHA AMIGOS!!!

I am sitting in an internet cafe here in Quito, Ecuador. I cannot even believe it. I have so much to tell you I don´t know where to start. Please stay tuned for more to follow!!!!

YAY!!!! estoy aqui!!!