Ecuador, Part 1: Home Stay and Galapagos Islands ; August 15, 2012

Dear friends, First of all I must apologize for breaking my promise—or at least my goal—of keeping a consistent blog while I was in Ecuador! The day after I wrote that last post, I moved in with my host family and lived with them for 4 weeks. During that time, I started my internship and my consistent class schedule. Right after our home-stays we went to the Galapagos Islands, then we had a lot of assignments and cultural activities, then we went back to Misahuallí for a second mini-mission-trip and then to the beach for a final debrief retreat. So, those are all my excuses to say that I had no time for blogging. But I sincerely apologize for not keeping you, my friends back home, in the loop on my experiences in Ecuador. I got back home to Colorado 3 months ago, on May 11, and as I write this, I am simply flabbergasted and flummoxed that I am going back to JBU in only TWO. DAYS. Where did the summer go!?

To try to make up for my lack of blogging, I'm going to write 3 posts describing my time in Ecuador. I will show you some of my favorite photos from the semester. I hope they tell the stories for themselves. :)

This picture just makes me smile so much. I don't even really know what we were laughing at! This is the only picture I have with my entire host family! Around me are my host parents, Diego and Miriam. To the left are their three daughters—Melanie, Valeria, and Gabriela. Gabi is holding the book I gave them of photos of Colorado. :) As you can probably tell... I got along great with everyone in my host family. They were so generous and friendly to me, and they taught me so much—about the importance of family, what hospitality really means, living the Christian life, and how to cook Ecuador-style! I learned so much Spanish while talking with them too. Melanie was always there to help me out with understanding, because she speaks English fluently!

Oh, and they took me horseback riding on the top of Pichincha! NBD! :D It was cold and foggy, but I thoroughly enjoyed riding a horse through unfamiliar vegetation, up and down wide hills, and getting splattered with mud when the horse splashed through muddy puddles! And then coming back down the mountain in the Teleferico gondola lift, and going home to a warm, traditional Ecuadorian meal prepared by Violeta, the family's friend and maid.

This is the living room and dining room where we shared many meals, conversations, games, and movies. I learned all kinds of unspoken "rules" of Ecuadorian culture by watching my host family's behavior. For example... when you enter a room, greet every person there with a cheek-kiss and a "Buenos días" or other greeting.

One day Miriam, Melanie, and Gabi took me to Centro Comercial Iñaquito (the Iñaquito mall), just to walk around, look at stores, and eat ice cream. So there was this blue angel statue... that turned out to be a live human! They gave me 15 cents to put in his little bucket... then his eyes looked at me, and he smiled at me (without opening his mouth) and did a slow, swirling dance. Then Melanie took this picture of me with him! His little bucket said "Gracias por apoyar el arte" ... "Thank you for supporting the arts." What an interesting art form! :)

At the end of our one-month home stay, our group had a lunch party to say goodbye to our host families before we moved back into our normal apartments. This is me, Miriam, Kim (my RA), and Valeria. I was sad that the home stay only lasted one month, but I continued to visit my host family and go to church with them for the rest of my time in Ecuador. :)

All right, so this is from our trip to the Galapagos Islands at the end of March! It was like our Spring Break... better than any spring break I could have asked for! :) And those are some adorable baby tortoises in the breeding center/research center. We also saw Lonesome George... the century-old giant tortoise (who actually died in June! Sad face.)

An odd, funny occurrence... So we were on this 2-hour boat ride between Isla Santa Cruz and Isla Isabela. I was trying to take a picture that might barely capture the incredible scene I was in the middle of: wide, gray ocean covered by wide, blue sky blanketed by clouds, with the sun shining through and making everything bright. And then Courtney sticks her neck and nose into my picture. :D Haha! Good thing I got some pictures that weren't photobombed. :)

I loved all of the animals on the Galapagos! Yes, we did see a Blue-Footed Booby, but the only photo I got is really blurry because we were on a boat. :(

And finally, some of the gorgeous scenery on the Galapagos Islands. I was sad that we only got to spend 3 and 1/2 days there! But it was a beautiful place and I'm lucky I got to go there!

In my next post I will tell you all about my internship!

11:06 PM  |  

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