Friday, November 28, 2008


Hey everyone! This is Stacy here to catch you all up on our adventures.

So after our language schools / chaotic countryside indigenous children elementary school adventure, we headed to the coast to visit a spiritual retreat called Sumai. There, the plan was to spend a week recuperating after our final language schools and learn some things about yoga as well as native shamanism. When we arrived, however, we found that instead of a native local shaman giving us a clear introduction into his or her timeless wisdom of the jungle, the place was run by an american man named Ed of questionable authority on pretty much all of the topics he rambled on about. The place was beautiful on the outside... very beautiful setting in the jungle with a popular ten minute hike to the beach, but most of us felt a bad vibe even from the beginning.

So our days at Sumai tended to be structured like this: At 8 each day, we had yoga class from another odd but very well intentioned american man who had just moved to Ecuador named Zane. The yoga was very... intense. It was less about flow and more about achieving difficult positions, which was an approach that I did not enjoy but others in the group did.

After yoga we would have "class" with Ed. Ed had a lot to say. Very little of what he had to say had much to do with any specific topic. At first his ramblings were somewhat entertaining, but after some time it became frustrating. Many of us were looking for more information about authentic shamanism, and we were let down by what Sumai had to offer us.

Our evenings varied with activities, where we could spend time reading from their library (my favorite), hike in the forest or to the ocean, or hang out together. One day we did get a "retreat from the retreat" by going with our quirky Zane to visit a beautiful beach near the house he was building and eat fish he had caught yesterday. That was a fabulous and relaxing experience.

After Sumai, Rio Muchacho! More later! We love and miss you all!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Hello family and friends,

Well, just to let you guys know we just finished up our first week in Quito, Ecuador. The first night we stayed in a hostal together then the next morning we started our spanish classes. It was kinda an intense first day because we got split up right away and took a test for like an hour. This test would determine who our teacher would be. We had one on ones, then a group class with someone in a similar level of spanish. After classes we waited at the hostal Crossroads for our families: thats always an exciting feeling. We had a free weekend in Quito and we had a lot of freedom to do what we wanted as long as we were with two or more people. There was a variety of things to do like go to the Teleferico to see all of Quito, go to Old Town, Mitad Del Mundo, or even just chill in the park. Also we found some delicious spots to eat like Mexicali, great cheap mexican food. Then there was a hamburger place called G Spot, and a place called Sanduche Rey with huge sándwiches. One night some of the group went out to dance, some to a club with Nick and the others to a salsa place with Britt. The most important thing we did in Quito was vote. YEAH!! Ten points up for Obama. Voting was also an exciting feeling. Well, it was a great week with homestays, which are always hard to leave and spanish went well. Now we are off to Otavalo to continue our awesome trip... Hasta luego and see you soon with some fantastic stories.


Free Travel

We just returned from our five days of free travel. What a load of traveling for five days. It all started out leaving the spanish school in arequipa in the afternoon on a wednesday. we all packed into taxi´s and headed to the bus staion. we took a more local bus at 3 in the afetrnoon. so the drive was supposed to take five to five and a half hours, ha, after about six we were all feeling a little tired of driving. the bus took an extra hour to leave then stopped a lot to pick up random people. it took about seven hours total.
we arived in puno at around ten at night. we took taxis to the hostel and got situated in the rooms. Then went out and had dinner. But after that a "long" nights rest.
in the moring we had some bread for breakfast and headed to the dock to get on a boat. We were a little late so our time on the islands was cut short a little. The reed islands of uros were very amazing but very touristy. from there we rode the boat another three hours through lake titicaca to the island of taquile. We had a guide who grew up on the islands and told us a lot about the values and history of the island. We then ate a nice lunch of quinua soup, trout from the lake and rice,and headed back to the city of puno for the night.
that evening we were lucky enough to see one of two parades that happen in puno every year for the university. there were the most extravagant costumes and dancing and masks. it all lasted at least four or five hours maybe more.
In the morning we all took a two and a half hour bus ride to the cross of the roads between puno arequipa and colca. the two and a half hours turned into five. we met our driver and drove for another two hours to the city of chivay. we got all cozied up in our hostel and then headed to some hotsprings. the hot springs where nice, more of a hot spot for little school kids and packed to the brim with people but nice. we went out and ate then went to sleep at the hostel.
in the moring we were up at five thirty and drove to the cruz del condor. we sat and waited for about four hours to see the condors and only got a slight glimse of one. while we were there more tourists showed up by the hundreds and filled the parking lot with huge busses. they only stayed for about two hours and then left. it was quite a site of tourism at its finest.
From there we went to the town of cabanaconde and ate lunch, bought food for the day and the next morning and headed down the colca canyon to the oasis. it took about one and a half hours to reach the bottom and by that time i was thoroughly burnt and ready to swim. we swam for maybe an hour befor the sun went down. we had a great evening of stars and rest before our grueling hike back out the next morning at about seven in the AM.
we reached the top in about two and a half hours. we were again lucky enough to see another parade in cabanaconde, accompanied by a whole lot of loud fireworks. we went from there back to chivay for lunch and then headed back to arequipa for the night and the next day of long travel to lima/ quito ecuador.