Saturday, February 28, 2009


Hello from Otavalo! We have safely arrived in the beautiful city of Otavalo. We had a nice late drive last night, and were able to see a bit of a sunset, I think the first since we have been here!

We woke up this morning, and had a nice start of the day by walking around the HUGE, market. I think a few of us are slow trailing things behind in the places we stay to make room for all of our purchases today. Sheese.

After our day in the market, we went to Parque Concord and saw some beautfil birds that had been through very rough lifes. This place is a bird rehiblitation place, but some birds go back out into the wild, and most don't. But it was a very tranquil place to be.

For tomorrow we haven't completly decided what we are going to do, whether it be hiking to some of the near by waterfalls, or a hike around a huge lake.

We head our tomorrow as well, for a week. We are going to a school to help out with teaching, painting, roofing, or anything they need us to do.

We will be out of service of internet for the week so their won't be any blogs for the week. But there will be lots to talk about next weekend!

Hasta Luego from SudaAmerica!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

¡Huevos Rancheros!

Today is our last night in Ecuador, we are going to go put our Salsa Dance Moves to the test. Hopefully all goes well, Haha . We have spent the last couple of day finishing up our last week of Spanish School. Learning all about past tense verbs, it has been a difficult week, if I might say so my self.

On Sunday the group, went to Mitda Del Mundo as well as Pululahua, the crater right outside of Quito. What an amazing view that was! We all stood at the center point of our earth. And made cool experiments with balancing an egg on the head of a nail, and seeing the different ways the water flows on the different hemispheres. It was awesome to see when the drain was in the middle of the world that it went down straight, and on the southern it went left, and on the northern it went right.

Tomorrow we are going to our final day in Spanish school, in Quito. Then we are doing a cooking class, after school then heading on our way to Otovolio. Where we will arrive late Friday night, then get up bright and early for a fun day in the best market in Ecuador! I hope we all don´t splurge to much ;).

Overall it has been a great week!

Talk to you all soon!
¡Hasta Luego!
- Jenn

The group at the feet of El Panecillo, overlooking Quito.
From left to right: Onyx, Paul, Amanda, Jenn, Tessa, Karen, Adam, and Heather

Saturday, February 21, 2009

el panecillo & the basilica

Standing so close to El Panecillo, the angel, the virgin mary, who looks over all of Ecuador brought us all closer to the city and it´s energy. The statue is amazing, standing tall above our heads, we strain our necks to look up at her halo of stars. She stands atop a serpent, holding it´s neck with a chain. Certainly majestic, she watches over a magnificent view of the city of Quito, which streches through the valley further than the eye can see. The sunniest day since we´ve been in Quito gave us a fantastitic view,seeing the Basilica from afar, amidst houses, tall building, and city. Nonetheless, beautiful green mountains surrounded us, as it always seems to be in Ecuador.

After spending lots of time, and taking lots of photos, we ventured back to old town, the historic part of town to find lunch. Tessa and Jenn were the most sucessful in finding the biggest empanadas I´ve ever seen for only a dollar each!
A whole plate full of one empanada.

On to our next experience of Quito, visiting the Basilica. The most serene and beautiful church I´ve ever visited. Sitting in the pews, I felt an overwhelming sense of the prayers, confessions, sermons - all spoken within the church. Really, the overwhelming faith of the people of Ecuador. I walked, gawking at the beauty of the architecture and stained glass windows, as we all did. Taking pictures, and exploring the details of the church. If you look between the clock towers, through an opening in the wall in the shape of the heart of Jesus, there´s a perfect view of the Virgin Mary, atop the mountain we had just visited. It´s an incredible sight.

For broader views of the city, a few of us even ventured to the top of the clock tower, even fewer ventured to the very top, where more amazing views of the city, and closer views of the building entranced our eyes.

Overall, we have had an amazing Saturday exploring the religious aspects of this beautiful country, and their equally amazing monuments to Catholicism.

amanda & the group

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


After spanish classes for three days, we´re all beginning to sound a little more like South America. Yesterday, we had the chance to walk through the huge market with our spanish teachers. Though only around ten in the morning, the smells of delicious Ecuadorian food made us all a bit hungry. It was hard to concentrate on the names of all the fruits and vegetables that were stacked together. Piles of apples (manzanas), pineapples, guanabana (though I´m sure that´s spelled incorrectly), oranges, so many blackberries, and more names that we couldn´t remember, and many more vegetables, including baby corn, a personal favorite of mine. The finale to the market is a small square where people sell flowers of all sorts, either natural, dyed with bright colors, or fake. It was cool to see a market so different from those in the states.

Today was also a real adventure - after spanish classes the group walked down the block to try our luck at Salsa dancing! Through many misteps, dizzy turns, and patient instructors, we managed to learn a good amount of moves, and had a fantastic time. We can really try our luck at a salsateca this weekend!

Ta-ta for now.
amanda & the group

Monday, February 16, 2009

First Day in Quito

hola familia y amigos!

Last night we arrived in Quito! After a bus ride in the rain, watching Samuel L. Jackson movies in spanish, we came into the city, passing the equator monument, to get into taxis to go to our new homes. Excited and nervous, we arrived to meet Rosa, the director of the language school, and mom to Tessa and Amanda. Tired, we were grateful for generous meals, and comfortable beds.

After sleeping well, we awoke early, venturing from our homestays to our first day of spanish class! At all sorts of levels, it was great to talk one-on-one with instructors. From going over the days of the week to irregular verbs, we all learned something new. After class we explored Quito more, walking around town we found colorful coin purses, cool leather boots, and crazy white chocolate candy with nerds- gollock. It was fantastic. We ended our day strolling through the park, when it started to rain - it rains a lot. Prepared with rain jackets, we made our different ways back home. Dinner should be ready in a few hours, and tomorrow we´ll start another day. Plans for the week include salsa dancing and learning how to cook delicious Ecuadorian cuisine.

Adios for now!
Amanda & the group

Saturday, February 14, 2009

atempt #2

After a previously failed blog attempt, onyx and I (karen)are out to actually post our regards to all the fam an friends back home. we have come to realize that our espanol es horible y nosotros necesitamos practicar mucho, mucho, mucho mas! all is well in the world and Mino is a completely lovely place. Onyx is fellin swell and says hola partir de Ecuador y yo entrigo mi miros. If any of this is correct, i will be completely suprised, so sorry in advance for my spanglish rambling.
bueno for now.
karen y onyx

Greetings from Mindo!

Hey all, Amanda and Tessa here reporting in from Mindo, Ecuador.. in the cloud forest! It´s been amazing so far. Yesterday, after some group dicussions and activities, the group hiked up to a zip line company near the hostel and we spent a few hours enjoying 13 different zip lines, letting us fly over and through the amazingly gorgeous canopy of the cloud forest. Later we got to enjoy time in the hot tub to relax and had an awesome dinner at the Hostel. Today is our scavenger hunt in the town of Mindo. We´ve been asked to question people in Spanish about things like the name of the President of Ecuador and what their favorite birds are. We found a little internet cafe here so we can write to yáll! Tomorrow we drive back into Quito to meet our host families and check out the language school where we will be studying for two weeks. Everyone´s excited and having a great time. The best thing we´ve found in Mindo so far has been a beautiful garden and the cutest puppy.
That´s all for now!
All our love
Tessa and Amanda

Nuestro grupo en Mindo! Enjoying life (and sunshine) in the cloud forest. Off to Quito mañana. Hasta pronto.
Con cariño,
Heather, Adam, Jenn, Paul, Tessa, Amanda, Onyx, and Karen

First Day in the City

Hey guys, this is Paul and Jenn. Its our first day in Mindo, we are currently doing a scavenger hunt around town for some fun. It has been raining alot but it still very warm. It is a beautiful day today partly cloudy with some sun. Yeserday the group ziplined through the cloud forest, on 13 different zip line courses. It was beautiful veiw from that high up, it rained a lot but that did not stop us!

¡Todos esta bueno! Vamos al la calle, paz

Paul and Jenn

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The SAM group sends its love!

We've just received a call from Heather letting us know that they've all safely arrived in Mindo (outside of Quito) after a couple hours' ride in a minibus. Everyone is healthy, happy, and ready for adventure. (They will not have internet access for another 2-3 days at best, so they wondered if we would post for them so you all can know that all is well and they send their amor.)

So, stay tuned in a few days to hear from the group members themselves!

Passing on muchos abrazos from SAM, this is HQ signing off-

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Welcome to the airport!

Well, it is indeed official. Another South America Carpe Diem group has come together to find themselves embarking on their journey. The entire group is together in South America and they'll be boarding a plane South to Ecuador "prontisimo." We're sending them off with great wishes and blessings aplenty for a phenomenal semester!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

First post of spring '09.

Hola from Portland, OR, and welcome to the South America spring '09 blog! We are very excited about the upcoming journey and have spent the past week here at Carpe Diem HQ going over all the final details. We are looking forward to meeting you all on Wed. Feb 11th at 10pm at the TACA airlines counter in LAX. Enjoy your last few days in the states and we will see you soon. Hasta muy pronto,
Heather and Adam

Saturday, February 7, 2009