Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving and the Civil War

Since we are unable to spend Thanksgiving with our families, my program got together a celebrated thanksgiving as a group. It was a fun experience, but definitely no replacement for Thanksgiving in the US. Also, the Saturday after Thanksgiving was the OSU v UO Civil War game. Some Oregon students and I went to our favorite bar Finn McCools and were able to watch the Civil War here in Ecuador!

Turkey Cupcake!

Thanksgiving Dinner. I was so tasty and those mashed potatoes
were exactly what I was craving!

We're rivals!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


This last weekend, I went to Tena, Ecuador. It is a small town that is known for being a passage to the Jungle. Unfortunately since we were only there about a day and a half we were unable to go into the Jungle. We set of from Quito at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. We were unable to leave the night before, because I had to register for my classes back at OSU for winter term. We arrived in Tena around 11 a.m. After eating lunch and finding a hostel, we went to find a tour company to see our options. Our plan was to do a jungle trip, but after talking to the travel guide we weren't likely to see any animals or indigenous tribes on our tour, so it didn't seem worth it to us. So, we decided to go rafting! Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, but it was a really fun trip! It was class III rapids on a river called Rio Jatunyacu. I have never been rafting before, so it was a cool lace to have a new experience. That night we hung out in town and went to dinner, but we were all exhausted. In the morning we woke up and went to "zoo" in Tena. We saw some cool animals, but the coolest thing was the monkeys. It was raining pretty hard, so all of the monkeys were under cover, so we went up some stairs to get a better look. As we were sitting there, the monkeys came down and started playing with us. We have seen lots of monkeys before, between our trip to Tiputini and others, but these ones willingly came down to play with us and they weren't even in a cage! After the zoo we got on the bus back to Quito.

Monkeys, Monkeys Everywhere. Monkeys Monkeys in your hair.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Group Trip to Salasaka

This past weekend, I went on a trip organized by my program to the indigenous community of Salasaka. We left from Quito on Saturday morning and headed toward Salasaka. We first stopped in Ambato at the botanical garden and too see some of the original homes of settlers in the area. After we ate lunch in Ambato then headed for Salasaka. Salasaka is known for it handicrafts, so that night, we went to a small farm that belonged to the family of the conversation buddy of one of the girls in our group where they made tapestries, jewelry and blankets. We then returned back to the hostel to listen to some traditional music and dancing. We also spent the night a small farm known for its handicrafts, or called un taller artesano in Spanish. The next morning we woke up to the sounds of roosters and cows, it almost felt like I was back home. After breakfast, we headed out for a mile hike straight up hill, unaware of our destination. We ended up at a sacred sight for the Kichwa community in the area. We were then cleansed by one of the owners of our hostel. He made it very clear that he wasn't a shaman, but he spoke about the fact that anyone could come to the location to pay tribute to Pacha mama, or Mother Earth, and as long as they truly believed, they wishes could be answered. It was a really cool experience! We headed back to the hostel, learned about his handicrafts and then went and looked at what they had for sale, a customary Ecuadorian tradition for tourists. However, while we were looking, the woman who owned they hostel began to dress us up in tradition Kichwa outfits. We spoke with the woman for a while and took some pictures. The woman had a lot of fun posing us in different places. After, we ate cuy for lund

The sacred location where we were cleansed. The yellow flowers
are native flowers that he used during the cleanse. He blessed the flowers,
then brushed with them, then we spit in them three times to donate
what we have to Pacha mama. After he gave them to her as tribute and
left them in a small hole in the rock with many other flowers. 
Overlooking Ambato
Our Guide.
The Sacred location

All dressed up.

El Panecillo

You can see the Panecillo from all parts of Quito. The hill used to have a temple worshiping the sun on it, but now it displays the Virgin of Quito, a beautiful aluminum statue that is 45 meters tall.  We often use her to tell where we are in the city. The views from the Panecillo are extremely goregous. On a good day, you can see all of Quito from the hill. The unfortunate part is that they light it up at night, so when you go during the day all you see are wires and lights in all of your pictures, but it is still beautiful. Here are some of my views of Quito from El Panecillo:
The Northern Part of Qui

Here is an older picture I have of the Panecillo from the
 Historic District. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Museo Guayasamin, Cotopaxi y La Mama Negra


Oswaldo Guayasamin was a world renowned painter originally from Ecuador. He started painting at a very young age and then went to the United States for a few months as a young adult and sold paintings. After that, he went to Mexico to study with Jose Clemente Orozco as his assistant. Towards the end of his life he built a huge house in Quito and started building the Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man). When he died, both his house and the Capilla del Hombre were converted to museums.
One of the two prints I bought. 
The other print that I bought. 


The lightning was really close!
That is not the wind blowing
my hair around...
On our way up. 
On Saturday, November 8th, 2014, I went on a day trip Volcan Cotopaxi about 2 hours from Quito. We headed on a bus toward Ambato and got off at the Cotopaxi turn-off. It is just basically a freeway exit, but parked along the side are taxis that are ready to take you up the volcano. We hopped in one and started our tour. We first went up onto Cotopaxi trying to catch the good weather, but as we began the climb it started to hail. As we got higher, the hail fell harder and it was basically snowing. After the hail, came the lighting and thunder. We were at such a high altitude that the lightning strikes were so close they made our hair stand up. We got to the Refugio so excited, but found out that it was closed. We stood around the edges of the building to be guarded from the falling hail/snow. Unfortunately we could not climb any higher up the volcano to the glacier due to the terrible conditions and the temperature, so we walked, or basically skied, down the mountain. When we got to the bottom, we were freezing cold and it was raining, so we went to the lake for a short amount of time. Also, we were supposed to go to the museum, but it ended up being closed, so we weren't able to go inside. We headed back down to where we caught the taxi and caught a bus to Latacunga to try and catch the end of the Mama Negra festival. 
At the Refugio
Trying to escape the snow at the Refugio
Heading Down.

Trying to get to Latacunga...
in the rain. 
Lago Limpiopungo


Enjoying La Mama Negra
Everyone has told me that Latacunga is a pretty calm town, but during the Mama Negra it completely changes! This is supposed be a Christian festival with La Mama Negra being the Virgin Mary, but my host mom calls it a pagan festival. When we arrived around 4 p.m. there were already people passed out in the streets. We made it to Latacunga too late to see many of the cultural events, but one of our friends went earlier and said that they were handing out alcohol during the parades, which makes the passed out party-goers a little more understandable. We walked around town for a couple of hours. The town was crowed with people selling clothing, food, alcohol, toys, candy, and basically everything you can imagine. Since the festival is only on day long, we headed back to Quito that night. I was still thawing out when we made it to Quito from hiking on Cotopaxi earlier that day.