Saturday, December 25, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas everyone! Saludos desde Santo Domingo Ecuador. I had the fortune of being able to travel and now I am in warm humid Santo Domingo, about 2 and a half hours from Quito. We had a really nice Christmas eve dinner that was more like Thanksgiving dinner with Turkey and stuffing. We also had these wonderful things called Pristiñas that tasted like funnel cake. Today we went on a little paseo through town. We check out a Sanctuary that had a wonderful view of the city and then headed to the Tsa'chilas museum which was pretty sweet. The Tsa'chilas are the indigenous people of this area formerly known as los Colorados de Santo Domingo. Tsa'chila is more PC now. They have this stuff called achote that they put on their hair and its awesome because not only does it protect them from rain but also from Malaria and other viral diseases. Not bad! I picked up some cool earrings from one of the ladies selling stuff at the end of the tour we took. We had some ice cream and then headed to Gino's (my host uncle) place to spend the evening in the hot tub. Que rico!! How cool to spend Christmas day in a warm climate and then go hot tubbing at night. When we got home tonight we have coffee and humitas which are like tamales but even richer. Mmm so good. (The picture is of the Christmas tree at my host grandma's place in Santo Domingo)

What was even better about this Christmas was getting to say hello to everyone at the Servillo Christmas eve party. It made me soooo happy. It felt like I was there and I really appreciated that. Thank you David Servillo, for installing Skype on your computer so we could communicate and see one another. I am definitely planning on being home next year for Christmas. I miss seeing snow and pretty Christmas lights twinkling through it all.

I am headed back to Cusco starting tomorrow. I fly to Guayaquil and have a ten hour layover. I might have to find a place to spend the night if they don't let me stay in the airport. I hope they do because I really don't feel like dealing with finding a place to stay. Guayaquil isn't exactly the most safe place to be roaming around at night, especially alone and as a woman with things of value on her. I am sure I can finagle my way into finding a corner of the airport to doze and watch episodes of glee as I wait for my early morning plane.
Hanging with Andi in the Cusco Airport and then later in the Lima airport. :) Soooo good to see this lovely lady.

My wonderful brother and his girlfriend Anabel.

Making Pristiñas with Mami

Achote, what the Tsa'chilas use in their hair to protect them from Malaria and other diseases.

Playing the marimba at the Tsa'chila museum

My super cute grandma and aunt.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


It is amazing how much I miss sleeping during the day. I used to take two or three hour naps in between classes but now I work so at most I get about 45 minutes if I am lucky. I am feeling the exhaustion today. It wouldn´t usually be this bad but I have had to get ready to go to Ecuador so I have been planning like a mad woman for Cameron, who is taking over my classes for Thursday and Monday. I feel that it is only courtesy to plan for your sub when you know you are going to be out. Some teachers don´t follow that rule.

I have been super busy at the hostel. My co-worker left unexpectedly. Well, maybe no unexpectedly to the other people at the hostel but I didn´t find out until right before I came in one day and I got a facebook message from Carlos explaining that he had left and that I needed to make all new contacts. Fantastic. I was all alone and without any contacts or any of the itineraries that I had translated or worked on. Fortunately, I had sent many of the to another co-worker who was going to make them really pretty on a new format so I was able to recover a lot from my emails. I have been emailing and calling agencies a lot though to get the updated prices and new itineraries if needed. So here I was thinking that I was going to be heading up the agency as a part time worker but thankfully, Gustavo has come into the picture. He currently works for Condor Travel which is a huge travel agency here. He is ending on the 30th so he´ll be here full time. He has already proven that he is going to be a great co-worker. I love that his favorite word is chevere, which means cool. He has good ideas such as having a small tour for the hostel clients to go around to a couple of Peruvian discos on a Friday night to go dancing and practice the free salsa that they learned here at the hostel. I think it´s a great idea. I personally, get sick of Mythology, Inka Team, and Mama Africa that are teeming with gringos. Sometimes I just want to dance some salsa and merengue.

I head to Ecuador tomorrow at 7:50am from Cusco. I am so excited but at this point I am more tired than I am excited. I am going to be doing a lot of sleeping on the planes. I have three of them to fly in tomorrow. Cusco - Lima, Lima - Guayaquil, and Guayaquil - Quito. Hopefully, I will make it into Quito by 4:30pm but who knows in South America. It´s always a toss up when you fly. I decided to get all my Ecuadorian family members keychains that I think they would like. I also bought my US family present too and will be sending that package to them when I get back. I haven´t seemed to have the time to get to the post office. I barely made it to the centro where I bought the presents. :)

In other news, I had a dream about having 4 really good friends over for a slumber party and I couldn´t tell you who they were but I was really happy and comfortable and laughing my ass off with them. I think it is a sign that I am very happy here and love my co-workers and friends. A lot of people are leaving after this month and I am a bit sad about it. I guess I have to get used to the transient friend. I am one myself so I shouldn´t get too upset by it. Of course, we will be able to stay in touch but with teaching English abroad there will always be people going in and out.

Finally, I have had an awesome Echo reunion week here in Cusco. I met up with Lauren Magrisso last Thursday and caught up for about half an hour before she was wisked away by her group. It was really good to see her though and know she is doing well. The other lovely camp Echo friend was Andi Hagan and her mother. I saw her two nights ago and took her to a cute little bakery down the street from where I live. We had milkshakes and caught up on the last year. I showed her my place and the Camp Echo DVD that Alyssa Goodman and Nardo made from this past summer. It made us both nostalgic but happy. She has been studying abroad in Santiago this past semester and she told me that at time it could´ve been any city anywhere in the world. I am not surprised. It is a big city and swallows people up I am sure. The more I think about it, the more I want to go to Valparaiso to work instead of Santiago. My brother´s best friend has a lot of contacts there and I would love to get to know the city of Pablo Neruda. It´s also on the beach. I have been having a little difficulty finding English schools online but that doésn´t mean they aren´t there. I definitely have to get a work visa if I want to work in Chile though. They aren´t as willing to let companies ¨hire¨ ¨volunteers¨ like Peru is. That´s OK. I will have a bit of money saved up before I go so I will be able to take some time looking for work and getting the visa issue figured out.

I have decided to apply for a company called the Experiment in International Living Abroad ( which would take me back to the Brattleboro Vermont for training at the end of May and then send me off to South America again but with a group of high schoolers and co guide. We would have a 4-6 week immersion experience with homestays and volunteering. It would be perfect for me. If I get that job I will get a nice little stipend and have that to live off of when I get back to South America and go to Chile. If I don´t get the job, I will just head straight to Chile at the end of April.

Overall, while I am extremely tired a lot of the time, I am very happy and living it up. I hope all of you reading are living it up too!!

P.S. I will put in some pictures when I have some time on my laptop. I also have some new photos to put up on facebook.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Two Jobs

I started my second job last week at Yamanya Hostel. It's a pretty new hostel of about 4 months and I am delighted to be working there. I am working for the tour agency under a guy named Carlos who is a lot of fun. My first day of work consisted of going on a walking tour of Cusco with him and guests of the hostel. It was great and I learned a lot about certain shops I had never been to before. My job mainly consists of translating itineraries at this point. Our goal is to get everything into a similar format so that it is nice and presentable in the binder. Since we work with a bunch of different agencies we have lots of different brochures and formats so it is important that we make it cohesive and with correct English grammar. I am working with a French girl named Clem who is in charge of PR. Once a document is translated and proofread, I send it to her to put into a pretty PDF format with the Yamanya logo and colors etc. After I am finished doing all this I will be working with clients and helping them get set up on a tour that they want.

One of the perks of working for a tour agency is that I get to try out things such as rock climbing for free. This past weekend I took my roommate Erica, a coworker Cameron and her mom rock climbing with this guy Alex who is the climbing instructor for Andexplora, a company we work with now. It was absolutely amazing and such a great experience. After we were done climbing what was definitely not a beginner route, we headed over to this ruins where there were caves all over the place. I took a video and will post it on youtube soon. It was an excellent day and I was very sore afterward. Rock climbing is awesome. I am going to see if I can do some more. Erica has already gone twice with Alex again.

So, needless to say, I have not had too much free time to get a post in since Thanksgiving. Fortunately, today was a holiday so we had no class. Gotta love the virgin Mary for having an immaculate conception and thus giving me the day off teaching. I am getting really excited because Christmas is around the corner which means my trip to Ecuador is around the corner too. I only have one full week of classes to teach this month which is pretty cool. December has already been flying by. It helps to not have to get up until 7am this month. I know that is going to change again next month but at least at that point I will only have two months left to get through before finishing at Maximo. I really like working there but I think I am going to be more than ready for something new when I am done at the end of February. My plan at this point is to stay in Cusco until I find out whether I get the job I am applying for. It's called The Experiment in International Living Abroad. It is a summer program for high school students to go abroad from 4-6 weeks and get an immersion experience. There are different tracks but I definitely am putting down that I would like to take my kids to Ecuador or Peru since I have experience in both countries. I think it would be the perfect job for me and from what I hear, they will fly me back to the states and then back to South America when I am finished. That would be perfect. If I get the job then I will head to Chile at the end of my time with them in August. If I don't get the job I will head to Chile in May. I want to go to Santiago and definitely to Valparaiso for a little while too. Traveling and teaching is the way to go. 6 months here and 6 months there. I might just work my way all around South America stopping for 6 months at a time in each place. I am A OK with this plan.