Goodbye Ecuador, Hello India!

I’ll be the first one to admit it – I am terrible at blogging. I get too caught up in what’s happening around me and I forget to write it down. I love taking pictures, but I don’t like editing them and waiting for them to upload to Facebook, WordPress, etc. But I’ve been out of Ecuador for three weeks now and I know that people are interested in how the end of my time there was. I’m going to do my best to summarize the fun outings I had towards the end of my four months in Ecuador with short stories and lots of pictures!

I’m now in Mumbai, India where I will be for the next four weeks studying climate change science and policy with Northeastern University. Since we will be traveling all over the country, I will do my absolute best to update this blog more frequently with my observations and what I’ve learned from India. Plus pictures – India is so beautiful! After India I hope you will continue this adventure with me while I travel to Turkey and Germany to study gender, sexuality and Islam for a month, again with Northeastern.

Quilotoa

Quilotoa was perhaps the most beautiful place I saw in Ecuador during my time there. A lake in the base of a volcanic crater, the blue color of the water was absolutely stunning. I don’t think I will ever get over the beauty and serenity of the crater lake and wish we could have spent more time there. The drive to get there took above three hours as we went south of Quito, but it went quickly as we passed mountains and canyons and drove through lush greenery and then desert-like sections of land. At the crater, we hiked the hour to reach the lake and spent some time taking in the grandeur of the beautiful blue water. If we had more time, we could have taken kayaks into the lake or hiked around the edge of the lake. Unfortunately, time was not our friend and we had to quickly make the trek back up the side of the crater. Just like Pichincha, hiking anywhere in Ecuador is difficult because of the high altitude and our hike was made even more difficult with the sun and dust that we kept kicking up. Even with the difficulty, we made it up in less than an hour (!) and were on our way back to Quito!

The beautiful blue water at Quilotoa

The beautiful blue water at Quilotoa

Quilotoa

Quilotoa

Empanada Making

One of the strange parts about this experience for me was the lack of cultural immersion. I knew going into this trip that it would be very different than the 8 weeks I spent in rural Mexico while working for an NGO. In Mexico, I lived with a host family, spoke only Spanish, and lived the same kind of life the rest of my 400-person community did. In Ecuador however, I lived with Americans, worked with Americans, and mostly spoke in English at work and socially. Since I knew this would be the case when I accepted the internship, I was not disappointed by my lack of Ecuadorian cultural immersion. However, when I had the opportunity to join my fellow intern Lindsay and her host family to learn how to make empanadas, I obviously had to join! Her host mother showed us how to make traditional empanada dough, filling, and then how to fold and fry them. While we were not very good at the start, it was a ton of fun and we did get better! Plus the finished product was delicious even if they weren’t the prettiest empanadas anyone had ever seen.

Lindsay with our lovely empanadas!

Lindsay with our lovely empanadas!

Finished product! Delicious!

Finished product! Delicious!

Volcan Cotopaxi

Visiting Cotopaxi National Park was the one thing I knew I had to see when I came to Ecuador this year. A huge national park centered around a 19,347 foot high, snow capped volcano, the park emulates what Ecuador is to me. We hired a van and drove into the park and up part of the volcano. You can only drive to about 15,000 feet, but then you are able to hike about an hour or so up to the refuge at the snow line at 15,953 feet above sea level. Without proper equipment or a guide, you cannot go any further. It snowed on us as we hiked up to the refuge, but considering I missed the 100+ inches of snow in Boston this year, a few inches wasn’t that bad! After having some hot chocolate and taking photos with the snow, we hiked back down to the van and drove to Laguna de Limiopungo, a beautiful lake/wetland also in Cotopaxi National Park. It was so interesting to see the weather difference between the lake and more than halfway up the volcano. There was no greenery on the volcano, yet at its base was this beautiful lake covered in plants and flowers and so much warmer. I am so glad I was able to make it to Cotopaxi this time around!

A few condos hanging out on Cotopaxi

A few condos hanging out on Cotopaxi

Laguna de Limpiopungo looking out on Cotopaxi Volcano

Laguna de Limpiopungo looking out on Cotopaxi Volcano

Semana Santa in Quito

Semana Santa or Holy Week is a really big deal in Ecuador and most, if not all, of Latin America. A bunch of my friends and I went to the procession in the Centro Historico or Old Town in Quito on Good Friday. The procession consisted of thousands of cucuruchos, men and women dressed in purple robes and masks, walking through the streets of Quito carrying crosses and whipping themselves. Most of them walked without shoes up and down the cobblestone streets. There were also bands interspersed, which created a lively atmosphere even though the procession is not meant to be a celebration. As someone who does not observe Good Friday, it was interesting to see how big of a deal this procession was to Ecuadorians. The streets were full of onlookers over the entire hours-long route. We watched the procession next to the Basilica and afterwards climbed to the top and watched the birds eye view of the procession head towards the Panecillo.

The cucuruchos during the Semana Santa procession on Good Friday

The cucuruchos during the Semana Santa procession on Good Friday

Carrying a cactus cross

Baños

Baños was one of my family’s favorite places when we visited Ecuador back in 2008 and I knew at some point over my four months that I had to go back. The town is located at the base of the Tungurahua volcano and there are lots of hot springs coming from the volcano. The people who live in Baños pray to the Agua Santa, whom they believe saves them every time the volcano erupts. I went with three friends and we filled the weekend with adventure sports and good fun. We went whitewater rafting in Class 4 rapids through amazingly green riverbanks. And best part – I didn’t even fall out of the boat! We also went canyoning down waterfalls. I was pretty terrified to do this initially because it just seemed so crazy. And while there were times that my legs were shaking so much that I thought I would just fall down the waterfalls, it was definitely the best part of the weekend. Next up was zip-lining through the breathtaking Andes mountains. We had gone zip-lining in Mindo last time I was in Ecuador, but the feeling of the wind engulfing your body as you fly through the sky never gets old. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite weigh enough to make it all the way across some of the zip lines, but it didn’t take away from the fun! After the adventuring, we visited my dad’s favorite church where there are large paintings of every time the Agua Santa has saved people in the town. Lastly, we went to Casa del Arbol, which was advertised to be a swing at the end of the world where you could glimpse the volcano and swing out over the cliff. The volcano was smoking when we were there so I was really hoping to get a good view of it from the swing, but unfortunately it was extremely cloudy and all we could see was a wall of white.

Canyoning down a waterfall

Canyoning down a waterfall

Waterfalls at Banos!

Waterfalls at Banos!

Zuleta

My last adventure in Ecuador was to a small town outside of Otavalo known as Zuleta. I made a connection with the family who owns Zuleta through Northeastern and when President Aoun’s Global Officer Caitlin came down to Ecuador, we went out to visit the town and the Fundacion Galo Plaza Lasso that operates from there. The town was so quaint and amazingly green. We saw llamas, condors, trout, and lots of cows. The Foundation runs a condor rehabilitation center on the property and we learned all about the condor and their habitats. We also visited the dairy farm and then went to the cheese factory and watched cheese being made (very different than I thought!). There were some old pyramids, similar to the ones at Cochasqui, that we visited and thanks to Caitlin’s encouragement, I took a roll down one (featured in her video here).

The view at Zuleta

The view at Zuleta

Caitlin, Nathan, and I made it to the middle of the world again!

Caitlin, Nathan, and I made it to the middle of the world again!

Some work highlights also include a trip to Guayaquil to visit local NGOs that the Embassy works with, a visit to the prison in Latacunga, attending Northeastern President Joseph Aoun’s talk on higher education at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, attending the Ecuadorian premiere of “Still Alice”, and attending the first ever conference on women at UNASUR (Latin America’s version of the EU).

I’d also like to give a shout out to my friend Nathan who helped me overcome my fear of horses and got me to ride one on top of Pichincha! For those of you who know of my fear, I’m sure you understand how big of a deal this was for me to even come near a horse, let alone get back on and ride one. Thanks, Nathan!

Rode horses on Pichincha!

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Overall, I had an incredible time in Ecuador and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. The work was super interesting and definitely solidified my plan to join the US Foreign Service sometime after graduation from Northeastern next year. I learned so much about diplomacy, Ecuador, and overall about what I want to do with my life! I’ll be taking the Foreign Service Officer Test this fall, fingers crossed I pass!

Lots of family and friends keep asking me what’s next – right now, I am in Mumbai, India. I just finished week one here in India where I am studying climate change policy and science with a Northeastern professor and 26 other students. We will be traveling all over India for the next four weeks and will most likely experience monsoon season sometime while I’m here (but trust me, it will be a welcome relief from the constant almost 100 degree heat). After that, I’ll be in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain for two weeks on vacation with my good friend form school. From there I am traveling to Istanbul, Turkey and Berlin, Germany with two other professors and another group of students to study gender, sexuality and Islam. I can’t wait for the rest of the summer and I hope you will enjoy reading about my adventure!

Rose

Up next: Observations on the largest slum in the world – Dharavi.

The Gateway to India - Mumbai, India

The Gateway to India – Mumbai, India

Exploring Ecuador

I am so so sorry that it has been forever since I posted on here! I know that you are all wondering what I am up to, and I promise I will try and be better about posting more frequently. Needless to say, I am having a blast here in Ecuador! I’ve taken a lot of time to explore the city of Quito where I live, as well as other parts of the country.

I’ve officially been here for one month now and time is flying by! I want to recap a few of the adventures I’ve taken and show you all the beautiful landscapes of Ecuador. I highly recommend adding Ecuador to your travel list (and so does Ecuador – they even had a Super Bowl ad this year promoting tourism! Maybe you saw it?). There is so much to see and do here that make the trip to South America worth it.

Hiking in High Altitude – Pichincha

Last week, I finally felt like I was acclimated to the altitude here to try some real exploring. The Marines convinced me to join them on a hike to the top of Pichincha, a dormant volcano that serves as the backdrop to my life here in Quito (It’s behind my apartment and the Embassy so every time I look out the window, it’s right there, tempting me to summit it). I was definitely a little apprehensive about hiking with the Marines (they are definitely all in much better shape than I am), but they were great in pushing me to make it to the top.

We took the Teleferico, a little cable car like contraption, to the base of the mountain and set off on our hike. Quito is already very high above sea level (9350 feet to be exact – making it the highest capital city in the world) and anything more than that can be rough. Walking up stairs can be a challenge here and feeling out of breath is very commonplace here. I didn’t really think what that would mean once we started hiking up to the top, but the minute we started it hit me. The actual hiking was really not bad at all (except maybe the last hour or so when it was more rock climbing than hiking), but every few minutes I could not breathe AT ALL.  Normally, when you get out of breath back home, you are able to stop and take a few seconds to catch your breath. Not at altitude. Regaining your breath can take minutes sometimes and those few minutes of huffing and puffing are not fun, especially when you look up and see that you are still hours away from the top.

This was the last hour of our climb. Straight up rock climbing

This was the last hour of our climb. Straight up rock climbing

I have to say, despite not being able to breathe for the majority of the day, making it to the summit of Pichincha was 100% worth it. We couldn’t see much from the top since it was super cloudy (I’d take clouds over sun any day though. The sun is brutal here and I still got fried even through the clouds), but the views we did see coming back down were amazing. The feeling of accomplishment was also pretty great. The summit is 15,406 feet above sea level, so to be able to say I made it to the top feels great (I’m also still pretty amazed that I did it – every time I see the mountain now out my window, I get to say “I made it to the top of that crazy volcano.”).

Oxygen deprived, but we made it to the top! Cumbre Pichincha - 15,406 feet

Oxygen deprived, but we made it to the top! Cumbre Pichincha – 15,406 feet

Definitely worth the hike to make it to the top

Definitely worth the hike to make it to the top

Crazy Carnaval – Guaranda with the Ambassador

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to accompany the Ambassador to Guaranda, Ecuador, home to the most famous Carnival celebration in Ecuador. My colleague and I drove down on Saturday and while the drive was absolutely beautiful, driving in Ecuador is always an adventure on the curving streets and narrow lanes and our driver did not drive in a straight line once. For the majority of the four hours, I was extremely carsick, which was unfortunate for many reasons, but mostly because I missed out on enjoying the scenery that we drove past. I was able to see the volcano, Chimborazo, and its snow covered peak when we drove next to it.

Even though the meeting we were supposed to have with the Mayor’s Office didn’t happen, we were able to go out in the town and enjoy the sights and sounds of Carnival. One of the big traditions is to spray people with water, foam, flour and/or eggs, and we saw plenty of that. We managed to only get hit once with foam and once with water, which was pretty impressive considering every other person on the street has a can of foam and most balconies have someone dumping water on people below. We were able to watch someone traditional singing and dancing and then some current pop music blasting from a pop-up stage in a alleyway.

The Ambassador came on Sunday morning to join the Guaranda Mayor for a viewing of the major Carnival parade. Even though the details we had for him were scarce, everything ended up working out and we all enjoyed the parade from the Mayor’s viewing stand. Luckily, the stand was covered because an hour into the parade it began to pour and the streets started to flood. That’s not all either – then it started to hail. Welcome to Ecuador and enjoying all the seasons in a day – an hour later the sun was up and it has dried up all the excess water. The poor parade participants though – many of them looked completely miserable to have to dance or wave from their float in the pouring rain.

Another incredibly colorful float from Carnaval

Another incredibly colorful float from Carnaval

The acts were so colorful and lively though and the parade lasted for hours. You could tell how well liked the Mayor was; every few acts, people would come up tot he Mayor and offer him gifts or alcohol or just a big cheer. It was very cool to get to be a part of the celebration. After the parade we sat down with the Ambassador and Mayor for a traditional lunch and then drove the four hours home. We traveled with the Ambassador’s motorcade, which was awesome, and went a different, less car-sickness inducing route (thank goodness), and so the drive was much quicker and more enjoyable than the one on the way down.

Colorful Carnaval in Guaranda

Colorful Carnaval in Guaranda

Lots and Lots of Llamas – Parque Archeologico Cochasqui

Since I’ve been to Ecuador before, I’m trying to make it to places that I didn’t go to last time. Not that repeating experiences would be bad – everything would still feel new since I was pretty young last time, but I want to try to see as much as possible of the country before I have to leave. This past weekend, some of the Marines suggested we check out an archaeological site where there were supposed to be old pyramids. I love ruins, so I jumped at the chance to see a new site in Ecuador.

We love pyramids (and llamas!)!

We love pyramids (and llamas!)!

The drive took us through some brand new parts of northern Quito that felt like we were in a desert (the landscapes always get me here – one minute you’ll be driving through lush greenery and the next minute it’s all dry plants and dirt). After passing through many dirt roads and tiny little rural towns we finally made it to the ruins.

Pyramids at Cochasqui - plus llamas!

Pyramids at Cochasqui – plus llamas!

Honestly, the pyramids themselves were a bit of a letdown. They were completely overgrown with grass and plants and while you could tell they were pyramids from the shape of the mounds, it wasn’t quite the pyramid experience I had been expecting. The highlight however, was the fact that there were 150 llamas living on the site. Babies and adult llamas were everywhere and they would come up to our tour group and wait expectantly for you to feed them. I am proud to say I did not get spit on my a llama during the trip (unlike last time I got close to a llama in Ecuador).

Llamas!!

Llamas!!

Hopping Between Hemispheres – Mitad del Mundo (x2!)

Ecuador (and Quito specifically) sits in the middle of the world, which means the equator runs right through the city. Obviously this called for a trip to stand in both hemispheres at once. In the 1700s, French explorers came to Quito and spent 8 years determining where the equator was. They marked a spot and today a giant Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) monument and tourist attraction sits there. About 10-15 years ago, someone came with military GPS and found the real middle of the world (latitude 0 0 0) and build a museum with the equator line running through it. The most impressive thing is that the two “equators” are a five minute walk apart from each other. It blows my mind that there were able to get so close to the real equator so long ago without the maps and technology we have today.

Mitad del Mundo - standing in both hemispheres!

Mitad del Mundo – standing in both hemispheres!

The equator is a pretty crazy line. Water spins opposite directions as it goes down a drain depending on which hemisphere you are in and it drains straight down on the equator. The line also affects your balance (you can’t walk in a straight line with your eyes closed on the equator).

We found the real equator!

We found the real equator!

Coming up: Camping on Cotopaxi (another volcano), maybe a trip to the beach, and adventures that I haven’t even thought of yet!

Email from the Embassy

Some of you may be wondering why exactly I would want to come down to Ecuador and work with what many people describe as “a complicated relationship” with the Ecuadorian government. I have a lot of reasons, but the first and foremost one is that I am considering a career in the Foreign Service. Ever since I first found out about the work Foreign Service Officers do around the world as diplomats for the United States, I have been so intrigued by the lifestyle and work these diplomats do, I just had to see it for myself.

And that’s where this crazy process began. This week has been so surreal – this internship was a process seven months in the making and sometimes I can hardly believe that the waiting part is over. I applied at the start of July and received an informal offer from the Embassy in Quito, Ecuador (as well as the Consulate in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and the Embassies in Georgia, Bosnia, and Azerbaijan) just a few weeks later. With an internship in hand, the waiting process began and my stress levels until the end of December were sky high. I had to apply for a security clearance, without which I could not even receive a start date (or buy a plane ticket). I sent in all my information and fingerprints in October and finally received my clearance right before Christmas. I’d like to take this chance to apologize to anyone who asked me about my co-op plans all fall because I was a wreck, so anxious and nervous about whether or not everything would fall into place for this semester. Thanks to everyone who supported me and listened to my nerves, you’re all the best!

I can most definitely say, however, that it was all worth it. The Embassy here is an amazing place. It is a newer compound, so everything is in one place – the main Embassy building, a consular section, a gym, a Marine House, and beautiful landscaping. Even with all the security, walking around the compound has a very serene feeling with the trees full of leaves and all the flowers blooming.

I am working in the Political Section, which has been very interesting so far. It feels a lot like my first few months in Boston when I was still trying to get the hang out the Massachusetts political system and who were the major players in Boston politics. This is a bit harder though because not only is it a completely new set of players, but the way the government here works is also very different than the way it does in the U.S.

We focus on a lot of different issues in the Political Section and since the office is small, they’ve done a great job making me feel welcome and including me in everything that is going on. I’ve gotten to jump right into NGO work and hopefully soon I’ll be able to work on human rights offenses and issues around indigenous people. My boss has been very clear that he wants to make sure that I am able to writes some cables to Washington before I leave and right now I am thinking about issues I want to research. Right now, I am considering writing something about the state of Ecuadorian prisons. I spent much of freshman year studying the cost of mass incarceration in the US and I was able to visit a prison in Poland, so I would be very interested in learning more about how Ecuadorian prisons run and how they treat their prisoners.

Everyone in the Embassy has been extremely nice to me and has welcomed me into Ecuador with open arms. I was able to sit down and meet with the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission earlier this week and we had a great time talking about my background and about the US-Ecuador relationship. It did not feel at all as though they were sitting down with me solely because they had to. Every time I’ve seen either one of them since, they have greeted me by name and asked me how I’m doing. We were even in a meeting the other day and the Ambassador corrected the speaker when describing how co-op works and about my background during introductions. I definitely feel like I am already part of the community here. I also found out that over Presidents’ Day (which is also Carnival here), I will get to travel with the Ambassador to the largest Carnival celebration in Ecuador! I can’t wait to see what that is like!

Even though the process getting here was very long and stressful, and the process of getting me set up to actually start working this week has been full of many steps, I truly feel like it has all been worth it. I am so happy to be here and really get to start working on the issues here.

Thanks for reading!

Rose

P.S. Since I don’t have any pictures inside the Embassy, this picture of a shrunken head that I found in an indigenous art museum will have to do.

Shrunken heads were a big hit in Ecuador when my family and I visited six years ago!

Shrunken heads were a big hit in Ecuador when my family and I visited six years ago!

Stairs, Statues and Storms

It’s official. I made it through Week One of my co-op and it was fantastic! I want to first off apologize for taking so much time in between posts. I’ve been so overwhelmed trying to get settled in my apartment and in Quito, and then adjusting to a new work environment. But all in all, everything is so great.

Before I get into what exactly I’m doing, I want to share some of my pictures and experiences in the city from earlier in the week. Monday was MLK Day in the US, which meant that the Embassy was closed (perk of Embassy life – twice as many holidays!). My boss had recommended I go on the Quito Tour Bus, one of those buses where you can hop on and hop off all day to see the sights of the city. Totally worth it. For $12 USD I was able to see all of Quito and really get a feel for the city.

In front of La Basílica del Voto Nacional (Basilica of the National Vow)

In front of La Basílica del Voto Nacional (Basilica of the National Vow)

The first stop I got off on was La Basílica del Voto Nacional, one of the largest neo-Gothic cathedrals in the Americas. The beautiful facades can be seen all over the Old Town in Quito and being there in person was breathtaking. I had heard it was possible to climb all the way to the top, so on Day 2 at altitude I made the trek up stairwell after stairwell, watching as the buildings below got smaller, the stairs became more rickety and I felt myself getting more and more out of breath. The views from the top were spectacular and totally worth the climb in the heat. The architecture is absolutely beautiful and the story goes that the Basilica remains technically unfinished because if it ever were to become complete, the world would come to an end.

I climbed above the clock in the tower of La Basílica

I climbed above the clock in the tower of La Basílica

The view of Quito from atop La Basílica - amazing views!

The view of Quito from atop La Basílica – amazing views!

The next stop I visited was La Compaña church and I wish I had been able to take pictures inside. Every centimeter of the church is covered in 24-carat gold and there is no way not to lose your breath when you gaze around the church. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. It was completed in 1765 and it is amazing that it has survived so intact for so long.

The last part I want to talk about was my visit to El Panecillo , where Quito’s famous statue of the Virgin Mary sits. She sits atop a little hill (panecillo means “small bread roll,” which is exactly what her hill looks like) and you can see it on a clear day from all over the city. We made it up to the top of the hill right as the rain hit, which meant the view wasn’t as good as it would be on a clear day. A rainstorm couldn’t stop me from climbing up the inside of the statue to make it to the lookout point at the base of the Virgin. Even with the fog and clouds, the view was stunning. I definitely want to go back on a sunny day to see that 360-degree view again.

Even in the rain, I climbed as high as possible on El Panecillo!

Even in the rain, I climbed as high as possible on El Panecillo!

The Virgin Statue at El Panecillo

The Virgin Statue at El Panecillo

One of the things that struck me most about the full day I spent traversing the city was the kindness of strangers. People would come up to me and after talking for a few minutes, invite me to come visit them on the coast or invite me for free Spanish lessons. Obviously in any situation where you stand out as a foreigner, especially as a young woman, you have to be careful, but I think that when you’re traveling alone people are more willing to come up to you and just talk with no bad intentions. I’ve so enjoyed the conversations I’ve been able to have with local Quiteños and they always make the adventure more interesting.

I don’t want to make this post too long, so I’m going to stop here. Tomorrow I promise I’ll post about how Embassy life and work is going (spoiler alert: it’s fantastic). Thank you for reading! Miss you all lots!

Abrazos (hugs),

Rose

Good Morning Quito!

Today is my first full day in Ecuador and this journey is already off to a great start!

I arrived last night and was met at the airport by one of the Foreign Service Officers I will be working with. She connected me with the Embassy driver who would take me to my apartment. Immediately, I was struck by how welcoming and friendly everyone was. Even though my Spanish is rough (but already getting better!), I was able to have a nice conversation with the driver about the Embassy and how Quito is situated.

He dropped me off at my apartment, located just a short walk from the Embassy in a nice gated community, where I promptly set off my apartment’s alarm three times before finally managing to unlock the front door. Already exhausted, I was extremely thankful that I had been given a local phone and could call my supervisor and have him guide me through disarming the system (and that he didn’t mind me calling so late at night!).

The Embassy provided me with the apartment and it is amazing. I have three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a kitchen, laundry, and a balcony overlooking the Embassy that allows me to see the American flag waving high every day even though I am thousands of miles from home. Right now it is just me in the apartment, though there will hopefully be another American college intern coming down here soon.

All of my anxiety was gone the minute the sun came up this morning and I was able to see the beautiful views of Quito that my apartment provides. Those views completely solidified my choice of coming here and made the six and a half months of waiting totally worth it.

View from my balcony

View from my balcony

My supervisor was nice enough to pick me up and take me to the grocery store so I could stock up on everything I needed. Food, especially produce, is much cheaper here than in the U.S, though there were a few surprises as I walked up and down the aisles. Milk and eggs aren’t kept in the refrigerated section of the store and yogurt comes in bags. My supervisor brought me back to his house for lunch with him and his family, including his two very cute little kids. I’ve heard that there are a lot of young families here at the Embassy and I’m really looking forward to meeting them all.

I decided to get out and see the sights right away this afternoon and am writing this post at the Guayasamin Museum, which showcases the works of one of Ecuador’s most famous artists, Oswaldo Guayasamin. The art was incredible. Guayasamin focuses almost all of his pieces of the suffering and injustice faced by many indigenous and minority populations in Latin America. Many of his pieces are painted on panels that are interchangeable, giving each piece many different interpretations. I would definitely recommend the museum to anyone visiting Quito as they have done a wonderful job preserving Guayasamin’s artwork and house.

El Arbol de Vida - Guayasamin Museum

El Arbol de Vida – Guayasamin Museum

View of the Guayasamin Museum

View of the Guayasamin Museum

Tomorrow I plan to tour the city on one of those hop on, hop off buses since the Embassy is closed for Martin Luther King Day. Stay tuned for pictures and more adventures!

Thanks for reading!
Rose

The Beginning of a Worldwide Adventure

I want to start off by saying thanks to anyone who is reading this blog post. Thanks for finding my blog and for being willing to embark on an adventure with me. Even though 2015 is set to be a year of non-stop passport stamps, I am glad to know I have family and friends alongside me for this wild ride.

As some, if not all, of you know, I am heading to Quito, Ecuador in just five short days. As a co-op student at Northeastern University, I will be taking a semester off from my coursework to work full-time at the U.S. Embassy in Quito. I will be in the Political Section, though I am still a bit unsure of what exactly I will be doing! Right now I am considering joining the U.S. Foreign Service after graduation and hope that this experience gives me a firsthand look of what life as a diplomat would be like.

I am beyond excited to be back in South America. My family traveled to Ecuador six years ago and we had a blast traversing the Andes, the Amazon and the equator. I can’t wait to visit places we saw on that trip as well as cities we never got to (I’d love to go to the Galapagos, but I’m not sure how realistic that dream is). I’m really looking forward to breaking out my Spanish again, though I know it’s a bit rusty (I haven’t used it since living in Mexico in 2010!). I’m pretty sure once I’m surrounded by the sounds and culture of Latin America, the language skills will come rushing back (at least that’s what I’m hoping!).

I’ll be in Ecuador for about four months, though I would love to travel outside of the country during my time in South America (hiking Machu Picchu in Peru is on my bucket list). I promise to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of working and living abroad as a college student (and I guarantee I’ll work myself into some pretty laughable situations).

I urge you to reach out and ask questions about my experiences and adventures! I’ll try and include as much information and detail as I can (but I’ll try and keep it concise, don’t worry), but I’m sure there will be days where I forget.

I hope you’ll join me on this adventure!

Un abrazo,

Rose

PS. Coming up in 2015: Ecuador, India, the Republic of Georgia, Turkey, and Germany – join me!