Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Go chasing waterfalls

I had an incredible time this weekend traveling with a small group of friends to Baños- a small town catered to tourists and specifically tourists looking to participate in adventure sports. My friends and I rented mountain bikes to bike in the valley of volcanoes. It poured all morning while we peddled- and my Ghana teammates would be proud that I didn’t fall off my bike once! We passed 8 waterfalls before arriving at our final destination. The views were literally breathtaking! We spent some time hiking to a waterfall before eating lunch and preparing to go canyoning. Two guides took my four friends and me scaling up a mountain so that we could repel down San Jorge Waterfall- all in all over 200 meters of ascending and descending. It was exhilarating!

Sunday we visited the thermal baths nestled beside the mountain and yet another waterfall. This was a great way to relax our muscles that were sore from yesterday’s adventures.

We ate well and enjoyed great conversation in Baños- now I am revived and ready to take on city and school life.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cake for the cake-eater

Yesterday was my birthday... and I celebrated Ecuadorian style with lots of cake, and lots of friends.

The tradition of my host family is to serve the birthday girl breakfast in bed. So at 6:59 I woke up to my host mom, sisters and dog presenting me with flowers, a gift and breakfast. Breakfast is one of my favorite things about life in Ecuador perhaps because my mom makes fresh juice everymorning! I enjoyed a glass of orange juice with toast and a large slice of cake (my first of four throughout the day). My host sister Gabi is studying to be a chef and bakes a good cake!

I had a full day of classes during which I shared chocolates from ¨Katy´s Chocolateria¨ with my friends. I felt like I was in grade school again bringing in treats for the classroom. I also enjoyed treats from friends.

My friends and I went to ¨The Zona¨ after class for conversation over drinks at a funky bar. We ended the night by singing karaoke and salsa dancing at a Hookah bar. I had a great day and appreciated spending time with friends and family here and hearing from those at home. Thanks!

My sister brought to my attention that I had listed my cell phone here incorrectly. It should be 593-9-286-1911.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

In the swing of things

Time is already passing quickly here in Quito. My days are filled with class and reading now- as well as enjoying the sites with friends and my host family. I am engaged in my classes- enjoying thought provoking professors and interesting topics. I feel my course load will leave me with a general understanding of Ecuadorian society, economy, and biodiversity.

This weekend I attended my first National soccer game! It was fun to cheer for Ecuador as they beat El Salvador 5-1. My friend Cammie and I had our faces painted with the flag and were asked to pose for the National newspaper!

Sunday afternoon I attended a family reunion with my host family. There must have been 55 people at their historic home. We gathered from 11:30- 8:00 spending the day singing, dancing, and eating. It was really fun to speak with some of the cousins whom had studied in the U.S.

Before leaving for Ecuador I had a tea date with Laura Pepper and Deborah Dilaway. I enjoyed listening to their reflections from summer (and life) travels. Before we left Deborah said something that really struck me- she said that living and traveling with an open heart will allow you to see the world in a broader context. I am trying to be more intentional about opening my heart to this space and place- and feel much more present than I did traveling to Brazil or Malawi. I feel less homesick and more intune with the rhythm of the city. I´m grateful for this!

There are a lot of things I am grateful for here... for example:

The view from my bathroom. While I brush my teeth in the morning and at night I like to stand at the window and watch the sunrise or the city lights.

Good friends. I am already making great friends here from my program, and am grateful to have Malory a short walk from my house.

A welcoming host family. Lorenita, Gabi, Carolina (and our dog Chama) are so fun and friendly. They make me feel very at home and are also very patient as I practice my Spanish with them.

More later, but here is my contact info. should you want to contact me:
Katy Fiedler

c/o IES Quito
P.O. Box 17-21-1967


Friday, September 7, 2007

Here's a link to some photos from my travels:

Classes are underway and keeping me busy. I'm really enjoying my professors and course materials. I'm taking:
Intensive Language and Culture
Globalization in Ecuador
Environmental Diversity in Ecuador, and
Cultural Diversity of Ecuador

On Mondays and Wednesdays I attend class from 9 am to 7pm (with a 45 minute break to walk from one university to another while eating lunch). Busy days! But then I only have class from 9-12 Monday-Friday.

Yesterday I discovered a chocolate store named "Godika: Golsinas de Katy" or "Godika: Katy's Chocolates!" Needless to say my friends and I visited the shop today to sample some of the chocolates! So good.

Tonight a few friends and I are attending the Andanismo club meeting- a student group at the University which organizes hiking and climbing trips around the Andes. Should be fun.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Estoy aqui en Ecuador!

After a stressful departure I have arrived in Quito and am quickly acclimating to the climate and life here.

Just before I was scheduled to leave to study abroad my dad needed to visit the ER/ICU for complications from a routine colonoscopy. He stayed overnight at the hospital and gave us quite a scare when he passed out in the ICU and required more attention. It was a timely trip as I was able to spend more time with him and remember what’s really important in life (I had previously found myself to be very concerned with what to pack for my semester abroad). It was a good chance for me to be present and spend time with my family.

Wednesday morning Dad was feeling better and I had finally packed my bags. My trip began with a delay at the Minneapolis airport which left me approximately 15 minutes to maneuver my way through the Houston airport and catch my connecting flight. Thank God I was in decent shape from lots of summer rollerblading with Brooks and attending a few cross-country practices- I ran the length of the airport and arrived at my gate just as they closed the door to the airplane. Luckily, the stewardess had already taken my ticket and they reopened the door for me. I don’t think it really hit me until we landed in Quito that I had actually made it on the plane.

My host mom, Lorenita, picked me up at the airport and within 15 minutes we had arrived at our apartment. Lorenita is so fun! She has so much energy and we spend a lot of our time together joking. She has two daughters, Carolina 20, and Gabi 17. My sisters were at the beach when I arrived and tonight was the first night we were all together. I know this is going to be a great home stay for the semester! We also have a dog named Chama who is often the center of our attention. I feel very welcomed and very at home!

It seems that my program will provide me with challenging classes and many opportunities to travel. This is exactly what I was hoping for! There are 26 other students enrolled in the IES Quito program this semester and we’ve been spending a lot of time getting to know each other during orientation. We have been learning meringue and salsa dancing. It’s a great and varied group and should be a nice home base.

The views here are INCREDIBLE! I can see Mount Pinchincha from my shower and every morning I can see the sun rise over the mountains and into my room. Our group visited the Mitad del Mundo, or the Center of the Earth. We straddled the (incorrectly labled) Equator and felt the affects of altitude and hot noon sun. I can’t wait to stray from the city and get to know many of the other beautiful parts of this country!

Yesterday I found my way to the mall to buy school supplies and a sweater (who knew it would be so cold on the Equator?!). I finally connected with Malory who is also studying here this semester, but with a different program. We had a great time catching up at TGIFridays (I wasn’t expecting to find a TGIFridays here- not visit it- but we found this was the closest place that’s open late between our houses). It was so good to see her and I’m really looking forward to traveling with her.

I wrote this over a week ago and have found little time to send it. I will plan to post reflections here on my blog throughout the semester.