sábado, 6 de agosto de 2011

The Market

I think I have an obsession with the local market.  I have been there over 7 times. Specifically, there is a market in Quito called, “Mercado Artesenal” and I have become pretty accustomed to bargaining for decent prices. Although foreigners rarely get the same price as Ecuadorians, it is good to know a ballpark range for the items you want so that they do not charge you too much more.  For instance, the other day I bought a pair of pants for $5, then walked by a few minutes later to hear a woman buying the same pair for $25.

Some examples of good prices for items:
·         Earrings are $1 - $2.  This is unless you buy the real silver earrings, which vary depending on the gem/stone used.
·         Tie-dye pants:  $6
·         Hand-stitched purse: $8
·         Bracelets vary depending on style. The cheapest are $1 all the way to $50
·         Scarf: $2 - $8
·         Coasters: $6-$10 depending on the style and material
·         Shot glasses: $1.50

NOTE: Many prices depend on the style and size. Coasters might cost $6, but coasters made from leather will cost more.

Advice: Prices lower if you buy higher quantities. One shirt will cost $10, or you can get 2 for $16.

If you have any questions about the price of an item not mentioned, just ask!

miércoles, 27 de julio de 2011

Baños, Ecuador: Another Exciting Weekend Excursion

Today I got back from Baños, Ecuador. We left Friday around 3:00 and arrived in time to walk to streets and visit a discoteca.  I have never seen so many good dancers!  The men and women alike were fantastic at salsa and it was a lot of fun learning a new style of dance.  We also made sure to teach them some of our U.S. moves!  In general, Ecuadorians don’t raise their hands in the air when dancing. It is mainly about the feet and hips.   I found it funny though because the DJ would play American songs, but no one knew the concurring dance.  Anyone ever heard a song that says, “put your hands in the air” (there are quite a few)?  Well, when these were played, no one was putting their hands in the air.  This is except for those few Americans scattered throughout the bar.  Haha. 
The next morning was raining so we spent some time in the market.  When it cleared, we took a bus up the mountain and had a tour of 5 different waterfalls, including the largest waterfall in Ecuador.  The girls at the school also bungee jumped (I am afraid of heights so this is the one activity I passed up)!  From there, we were dropped off at some swimming pools that have water from the volcano!  The theory is that swimming in the volcanic water is very therapeutic.  After the pool, we went back to the Hostel, changed, and found a nice place to eat.  There was a very nice Italian restaurant where the food and service was great, and also cost about $6.  If you are on a budget, there are other places for even less.  Later that night a party bus brought us up the mountain to where we were supposed to be able to see the city and the volcanic fire at the top of the volcano! BUT, since the weather was bad and it was raining, the clouds were too thick to see anything L  We were still able to try a traditional Ecuadorian drink, “Canelazo.” It is a warm drink that contains orange juice, cinnamon, and some kind of tart alcohol that I’m not a big fan of.  Either way, it was nice to try the drink that the Ecuadorians love so much.  They also had a bonfire with a comical act.  Then, after the skit was over, we went back down the mountain in a party bus for some more discotecas.  Overall, I spent $8 total for the bus tours of magnificent some scenery and entry into the bars.  Not too shabby!

ADVICE: If you are a germ-a-phob, then go to the pools in the morning. There are early bird openings at 4:00 a.m.  The pool only uses natural water so by the evening it is pretty dirty.

miércoles, 6 de julio de 2011

Do I really know where I am?

Studying my map and learning where exactly Quito is located, where other popular cities are, where I live, where my friends live, where the school is located and some major streets was one of best ideas I could have had!

martes, 5 de julio de 2011

July 4th, but no United States

It actually was not as hard to miss the 4th of July as I thought it would be.  Four students from Academia de Espanol (and from the U.S.) found a karaoke bar with American songs and we sang Queen and Elvis for the night.  Although no one was in red, white, and blue, it was still a good time!  If you are away during a holiday, make plans with an American friend or a friend willing to participate in the American traditions!  This will keep your mind off of missing the holiday back home. Who knows, you may even have more fun than if you were in the states!

domingo, 26 de junio de 2011

A Weekend Excursion

Yesterday I traveled with Jolyn Rekasis, an SIUE student, Lucy, a student from California, and JoLyn’s host brother, Carlos, to Mindo, Ecuador.  It is a city known for its beautiful scenery.  Although we did not have time to visit the butterfly house (an attraction Mindo is known for), we did get to hike the mountainside.  This mountain is VERY different from the Andes.  It is full of life, including palm trees and over 120 species of birds.  We hiked for about 4 hours and were able to see 5 different cascading waterfalls.  It was a stunning sight.  After that, we ate impanadas with cheese (a regular appetizer here) and traveled back to our homes in Quito.

Advice: If you plan on traveling to Mindo make it a two or three day trip. There is SO much to do! We didn’t even make it to the butterfly house, the horse rides through the mountains, the bike trails, the large lagoon, the famous dish ceviche de palmito, and much more. Also, plan on getting wet if you travel to the waterfalls (you might want a swimsuit, change of clothes, etc.). J

domingo, 19 de junio de 2011

Is it possible to be higher than life?

Yesterday JoLyn, Cal, and I scaled the Andes Mountains.  It was AMAZING.  The Andes are the third highest mountain chain in the world! The views from pictures are better than those you see in postcards, not even taking into consideration how much better they are in person.  We walked around for awhile and decided to take a break for some photos when Cal noticed a section of barbed wire that had been cut off by someone.  So, JoLyn and I followed him into the “forbidden” section of the Andes.  There really isn’t regulation in the mountains and there were actually a lot of others that followed us.  Good work Cal :-).  From there, we walked for about 4 more hours. Cal brought a chocolate brownie which was another very good idea.  When you are 4.5 thousand meters above sea level, you start to get very dizzy and weak.  Chocolate combats the effects of such high altitude (dizziness, nausea, light-headedness, etc.).  In fact, we refused to stop climbing and ended up walking pretty much as far as you can without having gear for the snow.  I can’t explain how spectacular it is to be standing inside of a cloud.  It is so peaceful.  Not very many people make it that high and it is definitely too far away for cars, or other devices, so noise feels practically non-existent.  Also, because there are such low oxygen levels, much life (trees, animals, etc.) does not exist either.  When we reached our highest point we stopped for awhile to soak it all in.  As I looked around I realized: I was higher than the tallest buildings, higher than planes, higher than the clouds, and yes, even higher than life.

PLEASE, if you are in Ecuador, DO NOT miss the Andes Mountains.  If you are not the hiking type, then take the “teleferico” (cable cars) to the 4.0 meter mark.  It is an experience too beautiful to miss.

ADVICE:  Wear layers and bring very warm clothes if you are planning to hike the Andes.  At first it was very hot, but by the end it was so cold we could see our breath.  Also bring something salty (chips, etc.) and chocolate.  This will help with the effects of the altitude. Further, don’t forget a bottle of water—drink it even if you do not feel thirsty!!  It is a good idea to stop midway when there are steep inclines and rest until you catch your breath again.  Definitely stop and rest if you are feeling any dizziness.  Also, if you are fatigued, stretching and a few jumping jacks will cause more oxygen to reach your bloodstream, which in turn lessens the fatigue.

sábado, 18 de junio de 2011

Pollution and Bugs

There is so much pollution in Quito that I'm not sure I will make it out alive.  That is if the palm-sized mosquitoes don't get to me first.