Tuesday, May 31, 2011

All You Single Ladies...

..had better get your culas (butts) to the Galapagos Islands in 10.. no.. 9 days now! From what my oh so insistent new friends, Hernan & Byron have told me.. the laws are changing again. It started off that any Ecuadorian citizen could move to the Galapagos Islas, then it changed to no one else is allowed to move here but if you’re here you can stay.. with this law everyone you has to marry an islander to be able to move here. Now, they’re about to change the law so that if you want to move to the island, it will take you 10 years to get your residency card rather than getting it immediately. My friends were seriously freaking out a bit, they’re 32 and 31 and say that there are not very single women on the island, and they are very far and few between.

Apparently it is super typical for girls to get pregnant at 13, 14, 15 years of age and then they get married and have a few more kids.. it’s very typical, mainly because the island has been overhauled by the Catholic religion which refuses birth control and most importantly sex education.

So ladies, get your plane tickets and plan that boda (wedding) on the flight here! I got lots of boys in need of a good wife, the sale is on for 9 more days only.. take your tickets! If you come past the due date, your life could be that much harder trying to stay on the islands forever!!

Some of the men are pretty cute here.. but I sure do miss looking at the costeños in Ecuador... ooh ruta del sol!

Mr. Cuerpo's Kayak

Today is yesterday’s tomorrow now, and I feel HORRIBLE.. absolutely horrible! I once again woke up every hour on the hour, sweats, wheezing, could hardly breathe.. hurt to breathe, blowing my nose every 30 minutes. I had bought some Penicillin ($0.25 a pop, yea dude!) but had only taken one the previous day, so it didn’t have much time to work (it’s night time now, and I took 3 today, and I still feel the same if not worse). I’m achey, I can hardly walk outside because the sun is too bright (possibly also because I don’t have any sunglasses anymore), my throat hurts, I’ve started coughing painfully.. everything is just all wrong!! I decided I’d go crazy if I stayed in the hotel, and maybe the sun and the salt water would dry me up. FAIL, the closest (& nicest) beach is an hours walk away.. so I decided I’d just take it slow, sleep on the beach, force some salt water up my nostrils and peace out…
Wrong-O, the delicious cuerpo (body) of one of the Islanders whisked me away into lala land, and after talking to him a bit, I asked him to about the kayaks he was renting out. I told him however, there was no way in hello I’m doing it by myself (PS, this conversation with Mr. Cuerpo was allll in Spanish!).. he said of course not, he’s going with me. Mwahahahaaa! I was a happy girl, yet still wishing I could have convinced him to do it tomorrow instead of today.. the paaaain! All I could think of was that I can’t take my tissues, I’d be sniffling 100% of the time, I’m sure coughing would ensue without my water, and I just can’t do it right now… BUT Mr. Cuerpo (aka Sandro.. sound like one of those Romance novel names? See picture! Long curly hair, C-U-E-R-P-O, dark skin) says the word Tortuga and I hopped in that kayak in a flash.

It was wickedly awesome, and I can’t wait to do it again!! I saw at least 18 turtles, some amazingly huge birds, big waves, and just ginormous turtles!!! I can’t get over them! They were my favorite part… up until that moment, the only real sea turtles I had seen in the wild were the 3 that I found dead on the beach in Montanita (which sadly happens often, they think because of fishing nets).. so this experience made up for them! Their heads just poke out of the water to breathe, I saw some a couple of feet away from our kayak but under the water.. they looked MASSIVE! I wanted a ride on one! : )

Mr. Cuerpo brought along snorkeling equipment.. but I told him that I honestly can hardly breathe outside of the water, let alone face down in the water.. I was really sad though, because I wanted to do it sooo bad! Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll be better.. actually by the end of the week I had better be better!

Mr. Cuerpo didn’t make me pay for our kayak of amazingness, he cheesily (thank you latinos) said (all in Spanish, so of course I can’t help but swoon).. my heart opens and our lives dance together when the magic comes into your eyes and your laughter from seeing the turtles… Oh God, please get me off this island! He absolutely refused for me to pay him, which I hated because that’s just a little awkward, and said un beso… INFERMA! INFERMA! Got out of that one, hasta luego Mr. Cuerpo!

Heading to the G's.. Galapagos Islands that is

I chose B!

On Sunday, I packed all of my things (which was SAD, because I fell in love with the EcoResort at Kamala.. my students.. my trainers.. my tranquil yet fiesta-fide life there) and headed to Guayaquil at 11AM. It started out a bit rocky, as I got to the bus terminal and ALL of the Guayaquil bus tickets had been booked for the entire day as of 10AM.. but lucked out and got a van ride for $10.. it was shorter, safer (I’ve been hearing many bad stories from other travelers about the buses getting hijacked recently), and it dropped me off directly at the airport!

When I got to the airport in Guayaquil (the one everyone has to go through to get to the Galapagos), I went to the main airline ‘AeroGal’. They gave me horrible news, and said the tickets were booked solid until Thursday (OH FAAABULOUS, so I have to stay in Guayaquil until Thursday?! You’re kidding me?).. so they pointed me in the direction of ‘TAME’ airline.. which I didn’t have much hope for when walking in.

SUCCESS! I got a ticket for the next morning, Monday at 10AM, and a return flight to Quito on June 13th for $355. Sound expensive? I know, it hurt a little! But that is the normal rate for LOW season, high season which starts on the 15th is about $50 more.

I arrived in the Galapagos, took the bus-ferry-bus combo to get to Puerto Ayora (the main port for finding a cruise tour) and found a $10 a night hotel. Not too shabby, loud (because of everyone slamming their doors.. and waking my sick butt up in the middle of the night), no toilet paper (weird! I know), and WIFI : ). I was sick as a dog when I arrived.. and have been gradually been getting worse and worse (I haven’t even been here 48 hours!!! Ugh).

I immediately dropped my things off, and began roaming the streets to look for tour agencies.. there were MANY! A guy rolled up on his bike and started speaking to me in Spanish, I asked him where to find the boats so I can talk to them and arrange a tour. He told me that he has a friend at a tour agency and took me there. Well, this friend sucked.. I would have to say that he gave me the worst prices for cruises of everyone I ended up talking to. The guy on the bike introduced himself (Hernan) and told me he owned a café/restaurant down the street called .. Hernan’s, and told me to drop by sometime.

After not having much success with the 8 tour agencies I walked into.. I was a bit bummed and pondering what to do now. I talked to 2 guys who had recently booked a pretty sweet deal through a guy in Quito, and they gave me his business card and I was honestly about to give up and go e-mail him!!! On my way back to the hotel, I am about to cross the street, look up, and see Hernan talking to a friend and waving me over. WOW, his restaurant is super nice.. not what I expected! Hernan only speaks Spanish, lucky me.. I stayed and chatted with them for at least 2 hours over coffee, and unfortunately didn’t discover Byron’s English fluency until hour 2.. they made me suffer speaking Spanish for an hour!!! But I did it, I suppose I’m getting better.. they didn’t take off running or anything : ).

Coffee AND talking was a horrible idea, toward the end of hour 2, I was miserable.. wanted to take a nap (coulnd’t.. A.) because I’ve had insomnia for the past 2 days B.) stupid caffeine), needed to find food, needed to talk to the owner of a boat they directed me to, SO MANY NEEDS.. needed an ATM.. the list goes on and on, and miserable hardly describes what I was feeling!

First order of business, food. CHECK, found a street with the cheapest food around.

Second order, CRUISE! The best way to see all of the islands and get the most out of the Galapagos is through a boat tour where you sleep on the boat while it takes you island to island. I dropped in Eden Yacht’s office, and asked for prices. I decided I was only going to do the 4 day cruise, because I’ve never ever been on a boat for that long.. I bought motion sickness pills.. but I’m a bit nervous about how it would be especially since I already feel like crap!! So we decided on the price of $600 for 4-days on a FIRST CLASS boat.. walking in there, I had no idea it was a first class boat!! My friends Joss & Ness whom I had met in Colombia, booked a tour with a boat a class size down for 4 days, and I think they paid about $750 for it.. so I was very much pleased and happy that my plan was working out!!

Third order, ATM. Pay for that baby!

Lastly, the failed siesta.

Cumbia Me Chuchaqui

::Cumbia = Ecuadorian traditional dance; Chuchaqui = Ecuadorian slang 'hangover'::
In Colombia, I learned to Salsa.
In Ecuador, I learned to Cumbia.
Colombia, you won! Every time I try to Cumbia, I get really mad at my partner and say I just want to do Salsa. It’s basically a more boring version of Salsa.. with less excitement in my heart! Although, the main night I learned to Cumbia I had to go home early because my knee felt like it was 100 years old.. so maybe it is more difficult than I thought?

A Cumbia-fest of sorts happened in the quiet town of Manglaralto on our last night out as a CELTA group. Our students were ready to dance us farewell, and we had an absolute blast!! Manglaralto is a tiny little sleepy beach town that was a 5-minute walk South down the beach. The roads are basically dirt (well.. sand), wide, empty, yet filled with life when it wants to be. Everyone was dancing up a storm in the streets and kickin’ up that dust. I’ve never seen that many people in Manglaralto, I don’t know where they came from, but it was a crazy good time.

One of the nights we went there.. celebrating the 150th year of independence, I believe.. they were playing the ABSOLUTELY most awful music you’ve ever had to listen to and try not to look like you were in pain! We decided to go to the one bar in the town that looked like it might provide some good dancing fun.. and we found no one in there but the bartender drinking by himself and a DJ pumping the jams. The group of us were sober, so it made the event much more hilarious. All of a sudden, we look out the door and there are about 20 guys (mainly) just staring in, watching, observing.. pondering! We figured they must be underage because they sure did look like youngins! Then, a couple began to come in.. and all of a sudden there were about 30 guys in the place and 6 girls (not including us). The boys were dancing with the boys.. it was a bit awkward, and then we look out the door again and there are even more youngish kids looking in.. we decide this is just too awkward and strange, so we walked out. As we’re standing a bit away from the ruckus, deciding if we’re going to go home or not.. we look in, and everyone starts to leave.. after 2 minutes of us watching and hysterically laughing, the bar was empty again.

That’s my story. I know it doesn’t make since, I don’t think it’s supposed to!

The Infamous

Recently, when I tell Ecuadorians that I lived in Montanita for 5 weeks studying.. I get the biggest outburst of laughter and the same question. Studying WHAT? Partying?! And I give the same, “I know, I know..weird huh? Actually I was a 15 minute walk down the beach from Montanita.. does that sound better?” And normally laughter still follows.

Oh Montanita! What a name you have for yourself! As I’m sure you’ve seen, there aren’t as many pictures of me studying as there are of my students and I (also a student) dancing the nights away in Montanita (& Monglaralto). Our days were filled studying and teaching from 8:30AM until 8PM Monday-Friday.. so we had to let some steam off somehow! Sophie and I tried to start running in the mornings.. that lasted.. err… about 5 days! And I didn’t lose near as much energy as I needed to.. so I was still CRAVING Ladies’ Night (Thursday Nights) like a mad woman.. I believe most Mondays starting at 10:30AM one could hear me saying “OMG, Ladies’ Night in FOUR days.. can you believe it?! Only 4 days!”

Anyways, Ladies’ Night in Montanita begins with a 10 o’clock start with unlimited drinks for 2 hours. It wasn’t until about the 3rd week that we realized.. they must be spiking our drinks.. no it must be in the fog machines.. no they have to be putting something in these. I don’t think we’ll ever know.. but we never really know what we did. There is a pool in Hola Ola that you can jump in if you please.. SOME of us did (::cough:: Daniel), he hasn’t started growing another arm yet.. so I think he’s good. There is a stage that gets lots of action, a DJ that is normally pumping the jams like crazy (everything from typical American/European music to Salsa to Regaeton.. the world in our ears).. everyone that works at Hola Ola looks like they belong in a circus or Mardi Gras.. it’s just all out insanity. I ran into two guys I had previously met in Colombia, and each of them had been to Montanita previously and came BACK for Ladies’ Night.

I don’t know why I adored it so much.. maybe it is because I love to dance.. or because I’ve never really lived in a place with dance clubs at my finger tips.. or because all of the stress from working my butt off to get a Pass B got to me! But I think it was the love for dance and crazy happenings!

We may not remember Ladies’ Nights, but it will forever be with us.

Peace Out CELTA, Hasta Luego Montanita, Forever in my Corazon

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Unicorns, Butterflies, Sensitive, Rainbows, Stickers, Ice Cream

Yes those are a few of my faaavorite things (and for some reason I have said each of those words during input sessions quite a few times... don't ask.. the instructors say they like how my brain works... we'll find out when I get my grade :) )!

::::deep breath in::::: :::: RELEASE:::::: Do it with me :)

My CELTA is practically over!! I can see the finish line, and I can see the rest of my adventures awaiting me!!!! Sweet LBJ! This has been a wild ride, and I have LOVED every minute of it! Ok, enough exclamation points :)

So I just finished my last lesson, and went out with a complete bang! I literally had my students climbing desks, running high speed towards a barbed wire fence, looking under rocks and having fun learning English! It was a great time... it was a scavenger hunt using prepositions of place, in case you were wondering! I don't even want to think about leaving my instructors and all of the students!!! These people are fabulous, I tell them every day!

This has been the best learning experience I have ever had. I mean, I have had a few classes that I adored back in Uni, but this one honestly shoots way above them. In the mornings, we learned all sorts of things about teaching and then in the evenings we observed/taught lessons to Intermediate/Elementary adult learners. The feedback, input, EVERYTHING was just all so helpful, I feel much more confident in my teaching abilities!!

Luckily, I only have 1 input session, 1 tutorial, 1 observation and a 1 hour group teach standing in my way from freedom (which all adds up to NOTHING compared to what we normally had on our plates)!!! I've enjoyed being constantly occupied, and constantly jogging my brain for creativity.. I'm gonna miss it (isn't that weird?!). It's also going to be weird re-packing my bag every day or so to move to another town... I'm gonna miss living in a cabana on the beach and staying put!! OH, I think that will be the most painful part...however...

I am sooo ready to get my traveling going.. every time I think about what I have ahead of me, my heart jumps up and down!! Adventure just turns me on, and all of the challenges within that adventure change your life!

Life Plans:
Galapagos Islands - next week
Crazy Amazon Adventures w/Dana - June 10
Peru - July
HOME - August 5
Korea - August 26

Monday, May 23, 2011

Practicing Spanish in Korea

Part of my 'excuse' for going gypsy and traveling for 6 months (2 back home & 4 in South America) was to work on my Spanish and learn guitar.

Well.. those two things haven't exactly been happening :).
I practiced guitar for 2 months back home, but decided not to buy one down here and continue practicing because I have a hard enough time keeping up with all of my bags when going town-to-town, and the stress of carrying around something else that is bigger than me was daunting. So I ix-nayed the guitar idea and decided I would practice whole-heartedly in Korea.

I was also 'supposed' to be studying Spanish while I was at home for 2 months.. but I only practiced guitar and applied to a million jobs in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi thing didn't work out, 2 interviews, 1 year of experience, and no CELTA in hand threw me off track. The Spanish didn't get practiced, and I honestly couldn't have cared less.. UNTIL I was about to leave for South America and realized, HOLY COW I don't remember any of my Spanish from University.. I'm screwed! So.. the decision on not buying a guitar on my trip was remediated by deciding to concentrate on Spanish while I traveled. The Abu Dhabi thing wasn't too disappointing, but it swayed me back to the idea of Korea, and I had decided I definitely wanted to teach at a public school there.


My friend Dana and I applied to EPIK, which is the main government organization you go through to find a public school job. We made the decision not to go through a recruiter, because we assumed we would have a better chance getting the job ASAP in the city we wanted, Busan. Anyways, we go through the interview and the night before we both found out that we got the job.. our friends told Dana N-O-T to go through EPIK because you'll get screwed and never find out which city you'll be teaching in until you arrive in Korea. So Dana and I were just confused, period. We started working with a recruiter a few weeks back and he told us that he had jobs in Busan and Changwon. THEN we find out that the jobs he have for Busan don't start until the end of September and he thinks it will be more difficult to get a job in Changwon because there are so many recruiters there (What the heck?! Busan is definitely the more difficult job to get.. and he just confused me even more!)

So anyways, I applied to Chonbuk University in Jeonju, Korea for the heck of it. Because I figured everything else was a confusion and up in the air, might as well make this whole thing more interesting. I got a reply the next day. I'm thinking WOAH. That was quick. Long story short, I thought the interview went horrible... they thought it went well, and I just had my second interview with the Director this time and I GOT IT!!!

I will be teaching at Chonbuk University in Jeonju starting August 29th. A UNIVERSITY!!! I'm sooo sooo thrilled!

There.. I promise myself I will be studying Spanish, practicing guitar, and studying to take the GRE! I hope there will not be another blog in the future about how I didn't accomplish any of these goals!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Have a Table Runner

...well, I did.

Then I turned it into a beach towel, since I'm backpacking on a shoestring and
a.)have no extra room in my bag
b.)holy tourist sarong prices
c.)why not?!

Then I turned it into a rug for my cabana.. it's just too darn cute!

Therefore, it goes back and forth between the beach and the floor.

Then I turned it into a shawl because winter just started and the beach gets pretty darn windy in the evenings.

I haven't washed it yet.. but I probably should before it reverts back to its original job.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I just started the third week of my CELTA course, only two more to go!!! It's gone by SO entirely fast, I can't believe it! AND, I LOVE IT! I'm surprised at how much I'm learning, and how much the topics interest me.. which I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised since I've chosen ESL as a temporary sort of career.

Although I live at the beach, I get to look at it more than I get to lie on it or frolick in its luscious waves! The day starts at 8:30 with breakfast, 9:30-11:30 Class, 12-2 Guided Planning, 2:00 Lunch, 5-8 Teaching, 8:00 Dinner. Luckily, it takes 30 seconds to walk to the playa from my cabana, so I aint complaining! The course could be a lot worse, and set up a lot differently from what I hear. I am SO happy I chose to do it here through Southern Cross!

At night, we're teaching adults from the community (they get classes here for free!), which is awesome! I think they're learning a lot, and they really really want to learn English! Some are taxi drivers (one ran over the back of my flip flop.. WHILE my foot was still in it), surf instructors, hotel workers, shrimp biologists ( :) ), and artists. They are super chill (of course) and love life! I've never seen such pretty smiles in my life!! They're just great!

We teach in a thatched roof hut where kittens jump on students and make them scream (claws), our dogs roam in and out, students bring their puppies (as in, a Rottweiler puppy, that chews the screens, and when we tried to pick it up and make it STOP ripping the place to shreds.. it latched on to a students pony tail.. and we kind of had to pause the class to release her hair from its mouth!). Lights often stop working, and we have to cram 16 students (plus 6 teachers and 1 trainer) into a tiny room and teach for 2 hours.. sizzling hot & mosquito infested! The dragon flies tend to fly in at 7:00 on the dot, every night!

Life here is great, super relaxing, I have a choice of about 15 hammocks to lie on. It isn't relaxing though when we have an hour long lesson plan we're working on, paperwork, assignments, etc to do at the same time. But for the most part, I'm in heaven! A lot of the other teachers I'm working with would never call these cabanas luxury.. but I WOULD! OMG, compared to some of the hotels/hostels I found myself sleping in, in Colombia.. I'm living the good life! Sure I have huge bugs in my pillowcase, but you won't see my crying!

Some of the teachers & Some of the students:

A Grasshopper in my Pillowcase

Living on a sand dune on the coast of Ecuador always leads to random things.

Two days ago, this huge winged thing flew down from my loft area and scared the absolute crap out of me... I thought it was a bat because its wings sounded so powerful & batty like... it was a HUGE grasshopper looking thing (but not as cute) and I think it hated me! I was for sure it was going to leap onto my neck and suck my blood.. a Twilight sort of grasshopper. I tried to open the door, and it flew somewhere else and scared the begeezes out of me.. luckily it flew AWAY from the door though. It was dinner time, and I'm never late for dinner.. but there was no way I was leaving my cabana until I KNEW it was outta there! So, I turned my light off, turned the porch light on, and opened the door. Obviously this bugger wasn't that attracted to light. The cook came over to my cabana to see if I was coming to eat (like I said.. never late for food).. and my spanish being not so great.. I had no idea how to tell him there was a huge winged animal the size of my middle finger galavanting around my room.. so I just pointed and screamed GRANDE GRANDE AYUDAME EEk! Long story short, it finally flew out!

Of course after that, I was preparing myself to not have a heart attack if something else starts flying around my room.

Then, the other night.. someone's cabana got broken into.. even though we're supposedly on a 'safe and secured resort'.. his cabana was the farthest down, and the sad thing is.. is that we were ALL on the property, but we were eating. So the people that work here think that it is someone from within Kamala, yet they have no idea who, and didn't have the police here. None of us really got the best of sleep that night, I was cuddled up in my bed and had to call my Acababa friend to see if she thought I should leave my porch light on.. even though I would be able to see really creepy shadows.. and then I moved my glass top table in front of the window, so it wouldn't be as easy for someone to crawl into my cabana like I did the other night!!

THEN, last night there literally was a grasshopper/cucaracha sort of thing IN my pillowcase. I mean, holy cow. I think the cleaning lady put it there! I'm gonna start cleaning before she cleans, so she doesn't get mad at me!! I was (and shouldn't have been) lying on my bed and doing work, head on pillow, arm around pillow, propping myself up.. WHEN I feel something move under one of my fingers, at first I ignored it, but the second time I noticed I FREAKED out, looked into my pillowcase and see something with legs.. either a grasshopper or a cucaracha and the length of my pinkY finger. I slept surprinsingly well that night, considering.. but GEEZE that's just not normal! I know what I'll be checking every night before I go to sleep!

I have geckos that wander in and out of my cabana, talking up a storm. There is a little baby a quarter the size of my pinkY finger.. <3 my little children!

There are strange birds living in a tree outside of my bathroom that sound like frogs. Seriously, I couldn't believe it when I went out there and found out they were birds (picture to come!)

There are about 4 or 5.. sometimes 6 dogs that live with us. Three kittens. Sometimes the neighbor down the beach's horses run around here. Bulls have come and stampeded a bit after our dogs chased them. The peacocks like to walk on the bar in the early morning. Mosquitos don't even need to be mentioned seeing as they have eaten me alive!

The list literally goes on and on, I would just like all of the animals in the world to stay out of my pillowcase and live a happy and fulfilling life, with joy and peacefulness!!