Galapagos – Part 2

Here are the highlights of the rest of our Galapagos trip:

March 9 (Friday) – ‘The Twins’ & San Cristobal
-Up at 6:30, breakfast at 7:00
-8:00 – explored San Cristobal; saw many iguanas, crabs, birds (yellow canaries) and some sea lions
-10:30 – snorkelled through the “twins” islands. These two islands are made of ash and used to be one island, but were eroded by water to form two. This adventure was the most amazing snorkelling. We saw a turtle, red/purple/blue/orange coral on the sides of the islands, many fish, and what we think was a hammerhead shark!
-LUNCH – sushi
-After lunch we got our hiking shoes on again and climbed (sometimes we needed our hands) to the beautiful views at (almost) the top the island. It was very hot that afternoon, but it was a wonderful hike of beautiful landscapes. We also saw red footed boobies for the first time!
-Dinner and playing cards with Ruth and Robbie from Edmonton.

Here are some highlights of the day:

Canary grabbing some breakfast

Sea lion

One of the many beautiful beaches

Happy hikers at San Cristobal

Red-footed boobie

Incredible landscape

March 10 (Saturday) – Santa Fe and South Plaza
-Up at 6:30 and breakfast at 7:00
-8:00- hiked around Sante Fe
-10:00- back on the boat and just relaxed for the rest of the morning, chatting with other passengers on the boat.
-Lunch – garlic pasta, shrimp, coleslaw, cauliflower frittata, beet-like dish, and chocolate moose for dessert.
-Nap time
-Hike on South Plaza – really interesting terrain – red and orange shrubs and lots of cacti – (and iguanas and sea lions of course!)
-Back to boat and travelled to next destination, Baltra channel
-Snorkeled at Baltra channel
-Dinner at 7pm- beef with pickles and olives – stewed- delicious!

Here are some highlights of the day…

Posing for a class photo?

View from Sante Fe

Fausto and the iguana on South Plaza

Group overlooking the water on South Plaza Island

The Samba just off the shore of South Plaza

Us on South Plaza

South Plaza

Sea lion

March 11 (Sunday) – James Island and Bartholeme Island
-Up at 6:30, breakfast at 7:00
-8:00- hike around James Island- walked on the 400 year old lava – really interesting photos- including the “spa” area which apparently is good for your back.
-10:15- snorkeling around James Island – we saw a shark and penguin! And other fish of course! It was really shallow where we were.
-LUNCH
-2:00 – Snorkeling again – around Bartholeme. I didn’t go but Mike did. He saw new fish and a penguin shooting through the water! I listened to music and sat around the front deck.
-4:00 – Hiked up the boardwalk on Bartholeme. Amazing. One of the best spots for sure. Took lots of photos and on the way back we saw penguins and took a video of them!
-7:00- Dinner

Some highlights of the day…

James Island Lava Field

Lying on the Lava Field 'Spa'

Mike on the Lava Field - James Island

Lava shapes

Mike on Bartolome Island

Crazy cactus on Bartholome Island

Volcanic rock on Bartholome Island

 

Famous Bartholome View

Us at Bartholome Island

March 12 (Monday) – James Bay and Rabida Island
-Up at 6:30, breakfast at 7:00
-8:00- hike around James Bay. Saw fur seals, blue footed boobies, a molting crab
-10:45- snorkeling around James Island – we saw 7 white tipped sharks, a turtle and a few new fish
-LUNCH
-2:00 – Hiked on Rabida Island. Red / purple beach sand. Saw a couple hawks. Sweltering heat.
-4:00 – Snorkeling again – saw fur seals, and many fish. Very calm clear and bright.
-7:00 – Cocktails, thank you to the crew. Dinner, settling tabs, dirty jokes and packing.

Some highlights of the day…

James Island

Sea crab

Walking sea shell...aka hermit crab

James Island

Galapagos Falcon..or is it an owl? - on Rabida Island

Rabida Island

Driving the Samba - with "Capitan Jose"

March 13 (Tuesday) – Seymour Island
-Up early at 5:30 and left the boat by 6:00 for a tour of the island. Saw many birds with big red neck sacks (Frigate birds). Saw the sunrise.
-Back to the boat around 7:15, then breakfast, packing and leaving the boat to the airport!
-Shopped and waited, then back in Quito at 2:30ish (Quito time).

A few highlights of the day…

Seymour Island

Blue-footed boobie - dancing around to try to impress a potential mate

Frigate birds - puff out their red sacks to attract the females

Seymour Island

Little sea lion hanging out on the rocks

Flight back to Quito

It was a wonderful trip! Our guide, Fausto Rodriguez, was an extremely knowledgeable guide and very professional – and a lot of fun too! Our crew on the Samba boat was amazing. They were all very organized and professional too, which made our trip exceptional. We would highly recommend Galapagos- a unique paradise!

 

Galapagos Islands

It is true what other’s say, the Galapagos Islands are amazing. When you get off the plane, the fresh, hot and humid air hits you instantly. The seal lions, iguanas and blue-footed boobies are plentiful and found on many islands. I couldn’t believe how close we were to the animals and how indifferent they were to us. It was truly an experience like no other.  We spent an exquisite eight days in Galapagos from March 6-13, sailing/cruising on the Samba boat with our very knowledgeable, professional and outgoing guide, Fausto Rodriguez. This was also the place where we ate some of the best food of our trip. A big kudos to the SAMBA chef! We snorkelled and hiked every day, met a fantastic group of people (14 of us visitors in total), and visited ten different islands. Since eight days is a lot to cover in one blog, I’m going to break it down by day, giving you the brief itinerary, then a few pics of the day. Alright, here it goes…day one….

March 6 (Tuesday) – Galapagos- Santa Cruz Island
-Flew in from Quito and arrived around 11:30 a.m.
-Had a small tour of the “twins”- they are volcanic sink holes
-Went to a farm, had lunch and saw tortoises and birds living in the wild
-Walked around Charles Darwin Research Centre and the town of Santa Cruz
-Dinner on the boat at 7pm, a delicious fish meal.

Pictures of the day…

Wild tortoise munching on the vegetation

Turtles at Charles Darwin Centre

Colourful iguana at Charles Darwin Centre

Lonesome George - hiding on us at Charles Darwin Centre

Crazy cactus

March 7 (Wednesday) – Floreana Island
-Up at 6:30, breakfast at 7am
-8:45- Snorkeling – saw thousands of fish and many sea lions
-10:45 – Visit to Punta Cormorant – walked along a gorgeous beach with the softest sand! Saw sting-rays, crabs and iguanas.
-12:00 – Lunch
-NAP
-3:00 p.m.- Visit to ‘Post Office’ and around islands with sea lions. We also saw boobies, iguanas, crabs, birds (red neck).
-The ‘Post Office’ is a place on the island where people write a post card to themselves or someone they know, then they stick it in a box. While you’re there, you have to find a postcard from someone from your city and hand-deliver it to them. What an interesting idea! Believe it or not, we actually found a post card from someone from Winnipeg so we will hand deliver it to them when we get back. Looking forward to seeing their reaction!
We addressed post cards as well, so maybe one day we’ll receive one back!
-Dinner at 7pm – Chicken, avocado and peas, beets, coleslaw, yuca

Pics of the day…

Our Samba boat

Mike on the beach during the hike

Do you see the sting-ray?

Sea crab

Post office box

Mike looking for sea creatures

View from the boat

Samba crew

March 8 (Thursday) – Punta Suares & Espanola Island
-Up at 6:00, breakfast at 6:30
-7:00 – Hiked around Punta Suares for a few hours –one sea lion didn’t want us to pass!
-Saw many sea lions, birds, iguanas and and nice spot where there was a water blow hole.
-Took at dip in the water next to the boat when we got back, then took a nap
-12:00 – Lunch
-Relaxed until snorkeling at 3pm – went to two differnt spots
-Very rocky today and windy.
-Went to ‘sea lion beach’ on Espanola – wow- so many of them! Took a nice swim.
-Spaghetti for dinner
-Card game with Ruth and Robbie – 10 diamonds
-Nice sleep because the water was calm.

Pics of the day…

Sexy iguana

Blue-footed boobie

Shawna and a sea lion

Crashing waves

Friends

Sea lion

Sea lion cuddle time

"One of these things is not like the other ones..."

Beautiful beach

The next five days are coming up…stay tuned…

 

Banos Waterfalls and River Rafting

It is taking a while to sort through the Galapagos pictures, but we wanted to send another update. We’re currently following around a group from Denmark of twenty 18-24 year-olds – taking photos, videos and blogging about them on my company’s website. It’s lots to keep up with everyday, so it’s tough to get to our own blog. However, I wanted to post these few fun pics of the last couple days. The first couple photos shows a trip we took to the beautiful waterfall of Cascada Del Diablo. The second set of photos shows us getting ready for the river rafting we went on today. I couldn’t resist including Mike’s photo! :) It was a wild ride on the river and a lot of fun! I didn’t even fall out of the raft!

At Cascada Del Diablo

Mike at the Cascada Del Diablo

Getting ready for the river rafting

Mike Fagundes, Superstar!

 

Swimming with sharks

We have lots to post about Galapagos, but we wanted to start off with a short post first – mainly because I still need to resize all of our 1000+ photos. Overall, it was an amazing experience especially since animals are not afraid of anyone or don’t care about people being around…including sharks. Check out the video link below. It’s a little shaky at first, but stick with it. Our guide Fausto captured this ‘little guy’ while on one of our snorkels….

More to Galapagos adventures to come….

A long overdue update…

Well after a short hiatus from writing on our blog, we’re back again. Sorry for the delay. You see, I believe Ecuador was trying to eat us instead of us ‘eating Ecuador.’ We ran into some glitches on our trip – most specifically, Mike ending up in the hospital for four days. Glad that’s over. I’ll leave him to tell you about the details. Don’t worry – he’s just fine now.

Mike in his sexy hospital gown

Since our last post and after the hospital shinanigans, we had a quiet weekend (Feb 9-11) by enjoying the beauty and relaxation of La Parque Carolina. This park is located in Quito, but it feels like you’ve escaped town. Inside the park, we visited an exquisite botanical gardens with many different types of flowers. My favourites were the lilies and orchids (for those who know me, that is no surprise!)

Orchids at the Botanical Gardens

 

More pretty flowers

Every week has been busy with work at Lead Adventures and our Spanish classes. We’ve had the usual grind Monday to Friday overall. However, on the extra long weekend of ‘Carnival’ in Ecuador (Feb 18-21), we skipped off work on Friday to head to an amazing (understated) hot springs called Papallacta! We stayed overnight and came back Saturday afternoon. It was exactly what we needed! On Sunday, we hung out at our apartment, then Monday we headed to a volcano crater to take some pictures and then off to Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world: aka the equator). It was a really interesting tour where we saw all kinds of ‘tricks’ of what happens at the equator. For instance, if you drain water in the northern hemisphere, it drains clockwise and in the southern hemisphere it drains counterclockwise, but in the middle at the equator, the water drains straight down. We’re not sure if this is legit or not, but we couldn’t see how they would ‘fix’ it. Also there were force/strength changes on each side of the line (I don’t believe this) and we were able to try to balance an egg on a nail. For all of my ‘egg’ friends, I completed my task, but apparently the egg was supposed to be vertical, not horizontal on the nail! LOL! It was a great weekend overall and we came back to work refreshed.

At Papallacta hot springs

Standing at the Equator

Working on my egg balancing at the Middle of the World

Delicious meal from the Middle of the World

The following weekend (Feb 25-26), we walked around the Centro Historico area in Quito and found some great souvenirs and cheap boots ($18)! If you can believe, the same boots in a different area of Quito are more like $60. I was very proud of my good find! That same day, we walked to the famous Basillica which is a breath-taking church. We climbed to the top of the towers facing the clock. It was a little precarious going up, but the view was well worth it.

A long climb up to the top of the Basillica

 

At the Basillica

We made it - and what a view it was!

On Sunday, we attended our first Ecuadorian football game (aka soccer in North America). We cheered, got drenched by the rain, ate hot dogs (with chips inside I might add!), and met some new volunteers with Lead Adventures.

Cheers!

We headed to Ibarra from Feb 27-29 (Mon to Wed) to take videos and pictures of the Lead Adventures volunteers working at Ibarra’s Animal Rescue Centre in the Andes Mountains. We saw lions, tortoises, cuchuchos, monkeys, parrots, squirrels, and the list goes on! It was exciting to see how the centre really cared about its animals, helping them to rehabilitate. Anita and Oscar were excellent coordinators and very welcoming to us. Mike and I stayed with a host family for two nights which was an interesting experience. We practiced our Spanish a lot, especially with the daughter, Anthonella, who was just the sweetest little girl of only about 3 years old. If you’d like to see more photos, check out the Lead Adventures’ Blog.

With my close friend, the cuchucho

Mike's breakfast in Ibarra...no seriously, they eat this for breakfast!

 

When we got back from the trip to Ibarra, I had a visit to the clinic to see our ‘buddy’ Dr. Davalos, who sent me for some tests. Within the next couple days, he confirmed I was going to be just fine. Can you believe he sent me my results via email so I didn’t have to go in and pay for a visit? This guy is gold!

The weekend just before going to Galapagos (Feb 28-Mar1), we went out with a bunch of volunteers from one of the day care centres in Quito for some wine, Ecuadorian hot ‘moonshine’ and some laughs. In our group were three people from London, England, one guy from New York and a gal from Boston. Needless to say we had a great time…and the next day was spent in bed! On Sunday we needed to get caught up on work, so we sat at a cafe in the Mariscal Foch area with our laptops, while having some lunch and afternoon snacks. Luckily while we were there, a little group played music for us- an accordian, drummer, and guitar player.

We have much to update now from our recent trip to Galapagos (March 6-13), but that’s going to have to wait for another day! It was truly a unique experience!

Us at Bartholome Island in Galapagos

Until next time….take care….

Shawna

Tasty Treats, Otavalo and Teleferiqo

Our day to day here is pretty much the same. We go to Spanish class from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m., grab something from the bakery, then head to Lead Adventures to start work. Lunch is usually from 1-2p.m., then back to work until 5:30 or sometimes 6:30 p.m., depending on the day. Then home for dinner, Spanish homework, watch something on the computer, and go to bed. That’s our typical day. It may come as no surprise that we’re exhausted by the weekends, but we also can’t wait to do something fun! I’m eager to tell you about this past weekend, but first, I will mention that last week we ate “cuy” for the first time. Don’t know what that is?…well, it’s our furry friend…. the guinea pig. It’s very common here in Ecuador, and although I consider myself a friend of the North American household pet, I also found it to be delicious!

As a special treat, we set out after our Spanish classes to a town just outside of Quito with three of our fellow Spanish schoolmates and one teacher. When we got off the bus, we walked to this little restaurant and were told by our teacher we could order ‘the friendly beast’ in full, half or quarter parts. I carefully settled on the quarter part and Mike went for the half. The lunch came with potatoes, avocado, and an interesting fruit juice (which I think was Guava). I will let the pictures do the talking, but I will say, it tastes salty and very much like the dark meat of chicken. Myself and one of our schoolmates, Melanie (who is from Kingston, Ontario), had a bit of a hard time eating these little guys, especially since we saw them being roasted on the street, just minutes prior. It was something I’ll likely never order again, but glad I’ve tried it. Plus, the locals think you’re pretty cool for being brave enough to eat it!

El plato de cuy

'Cuy' cooking on street

Friday we headed to ‘Old Town’ with my co-worker, Elizabeth and her sister, Carla. We ate some of the best food and even saw a band playing in the streets…

In front of the Bascillica

Marching band in streets

Figs with vanilla and cheese, empanadas, and a corn/cake-type dish wrapped in banana leaves...and the strongest warm liquor drink I've ever had.

Now onto Saturday’s big day. Mike and I took a taxi to the north bus station in Quito. We were told to buy bus tickets there for Otavalo (a really interesting place about 1.5 hours outside of Quito) and get on the bus. Easy as pie. Well, we bought the tickets, then we saw people going through another area of the terminal and paying 20 cents to go through. We were not told about this. As we stand back for a few minutes watching this and each of us looking at each other and saying “I don’t know what we should do!”, we decide we should try. Luckily, we were correct in passing through this way, as once we got through, we see that the driver for the bus for Otavalo is yelling out “Otavalo”. We quickly go up to the bus, but then we both realize that we have to use the washroom and there are no facilities on the bus. So, we stand by the bus for a while wondering what we should do. Can we wait? I doubt it. Ok, in our broken Spanish, we tell the guy we’ll be right back… hopefully they don’t leave without us. We find the ‘banos’ (bathrooms) and realize there is a 15 cent fee. When you pay, they give you the toilet paper. A new experience for us. Luckily the bus doesn’t leave without us and we end up waiting in the terminal for another 30 minutes. Then the bus starts to move and we’re on our way.

After a breath-taking view on the way to Otavalo through the mountains, we arrive at the bus terminal. We get off the bus…..now what? Where do we go and in what direction? No one helped us with that part. I start to panic, but Mike keeps his cool and we just start walking…barren streets….but isn’t this supposed to be one of the largest markets in Ecuador!? As we walk a couple blocks, we finally see tents down one of the streets….phew, we found the market!

One man band in the market

Fruit, vegetables, knick-nacks, sweaters, jewelry, etc. line the streets of this small town every Saturday. It’s amazing, really. We work on our Spanish as we ask how much things are, state ‘we’re just looking’, and ask about trying things on. Bargaining is interesting – and it’s very common here. We don’t bother fighting too much about the price, since Ecuador has such a large population living under the poverty line. It’s quite eye-opening. I’d rather pay more for something that has been hand-crafted and sold in the markets by those who’ve made it themselves – give back to the community in a way, I suppose. The whole experience really makes me grateful for what we have back in Canada.

Lunch in Otavalo...$7 USD

What next? Well, we found a travel agency place in Otavalo in the late afternoon to see if we could find something to explore in the area before we headed back to the big city of Quito. Luckily, a beautiful park and waterfall was only 10 minutes away. Here are some photos of that exquisite place…(they really don’t do it justice, but I have to include some photos anyways!) It was an amazing day in Otavalo. I didn’t want to leave the countryside.

With Indiana Jones at the waterfall

Getting soaked at the waterfall

Along the trail to the waterfall

On Sunday, it was actually fairly clear in Quito (no clouds in the mountains), so we decided it was the best day for the Teleferiqo. This is a cable car that takes you up to 4100m above sea level. The view is breath-taking…and so is the small climb once we were up there! It’s amazing what the altitude does to a couple from the Canadian prairies! It makes us feel so out of shape. It was all worth it though – just for the fresh air and ‘la vista muy bonita’.

Going on up...

 

Made it.

Can’t wait for more adventures this weekend…we are going to Cotopaxi area to check out a volunteer program with my work. Practising Spanish, taking video footage, cultivating fields, preparing meals, and watching some traditional dancing is on the agenda.

Stay tuned,

Shawna

Ecuador’s Fine Ecovia Riders Slice Bag

We were warned. A very busy rapid transit bus leads to trouble…and the tale is true. About a week and a half ago, we were crammed in like sardines in the ‘not so rosy-smelling’ bus. I was distracted by one girl, while the other started slicing open my bag – while I was holding on to it, I might add! I had a feeling something was ‘a-miss’ and moved away from the girls to surprisingly find a sawed-open bag. After looking around upon my discovery, the girls were no where to be found. Luckily, nothing was taken. I moved away just in time.

sliced bag Quito

A sad bag...gone to baggie heaven.

A lesson well-learned. A new bag is being used and new prevention tactics have been implemented. All is well again in Quito.

I’m a marketer, not a mark,
Shawna

Ecuadorian Toilet Design and Maintenance Manual

Shawna’s mentioned some of the quirks of the plumbing in our apartment already, but after our water supply was sorted we had some more fun.

Not even a week into the apartment, we (I) managed to clog the toilet.  Having only one toilet, and a pittance of spanish words to relate the issue to anyone, the situation quickly became critical.  The last time I tried to ask the handy man if I could use the toilet before he started working on it, I ended up having to use gestures and it turned into some kind of perverse version of charades.

The toilet we have is a little different than the ones we’re used to in Canada.  The most notable difference is the absence of the water tank above and behind the bowl – see the photo.  This may seem like a interesting aesthetic choice, but more importantly, this presents a couple “inconveniences”.

Silly Toilet.

Inconvenience #1:  If you’re the lean back and relax type, you’re out of luck.

Inconvenience #2:  This one is critical.  The point of having a tank above the bowl is to facilitate easy movement of the water from the tank to the bowl thanks to gravity.  This works well in the regular operational case for this toilet.  See Figure 1.

Figure 1: Happy toilet

First problem:  No plunger.  Shawna and I scoured the apartment, and could not find a plunger.  Alright, what do we try next?  Well, the tank is running and some water is clearly getting through the clog, so maybe some more water would help force the issue.  The bowl is HUGE so we should be able to get some good pressure by adding enough water.

Luckily I’ve got a giant bucket of water handy from the ‘no running water’ situation, so I go ahead and just dump it into the bowl.  No problem.  It all fits, under the rim even.  At this point I’m giving it a 50/50 chance that the additional water pressure will push things through, and get us back to normal.  This of course is in my professionally amateur plumber opinion.  We wait.

Sadly, after a few hours, there’s no change.  I decide to take a look in the tank again and see if there’s maybe some dohicky in the tank that might help force the issue.  I definitely found something…  Bonus points for those who saw this coming.

Given the low location of the tank relative to the upper part of the bowl, it becomes clear in Figure 2 that it is possible for the water in the bowl to flow back into the tank if the water level gets high enough.

Figure 2: Sad, sad toilet.

Normally this wouldn’t happen, but Captain Bucket over here just threw that idea out the window.  Yes, the tank is now the same consistency as the bowl.  Awesome.

And of course the toilet is still clogged.  My kingdom for a plunger.  Of course we’re not going through this exercise at an hour when we can go buy one.

Alright, now what?  Shove something down the hole?  Sure!  What are we going to use?  How about a coat hanger?  Hmmm, only plastic ones…  not ideal, but cheap and cuttable.  So I fashion a 2 foot length of plastic coat hanger to probe the depths of the hole in hopes that the clog is within reach.  I even have enough length and angle to not need to touch the bowl contents.

In goes the end of the coat hanger.  Probe, probe, stuck, wiggle, probe, get a bit further, probe, blocked, but feels smooth, maybe just a turn in the drain, probe, probe, SNAP.

Perfect.  Now not only is there a clog somewhere in the drain, but there’s also a 8 inch length of plastic coat hanger in the mix to make it interesting.

At this point, I’m in full Mike-Fix-It-Rage, so I make the call – I’m going in.  I roll up my sleve, the hand goes into the slough.  I start probing for the lost length of coat hanger.  Find it.  Alright, might as well feel around and see if there’s anything else to be discovered blockage wise.

So I’m probing the various holes at the bottom of the bowl.  I’m hunkered over about elbow deep in the mess, and this gives me a view of the washroom at a different angle.  Something bright green grabs my attention from the toilet born disaster at hand, and I look over to the bottom shelf under the sink.  What the heck is that?

Eye spy with my little eye something green.

That is really weird.  Some kind of futuristic hand bell?  a joystick?  a giant chess piece?

It's all about perspective.

a plunger maybe?!?

SALVATION.

Mike out.

Figuring things out – one step at a time

What an adventure it has been thus far! I am grateful for a number of things – particularly – my amazing husband, Mike, who is much more brave than I when it comes to figuring out the language and how things work around here. We now have running water in the apartment (hooray for showers!) and our apartment owners are wonderful. The daughter (Pao) speaks English – so it’s handy for us. When the plumber came in on Saturday to say he was going to fix something, Pao was not here yet and Mike wanted to tell him that he just wanted to go to the washroom before the guy got started. Whoah, was that ever funny! Mike was trying to explain to the guy (who doesn’t speak a lick of English) while I was running around trying to find the words in the dictionary. In the end, we just used hand gestures, lol! The guy laughed at us – but at least he understood.

A few things I want to point out that are a little different around here (besides the language of course):

  1. Single-pane windows: There is no need for double-pane due to the great weather, but boy, I miss the double-pane windows back home. You can hear everything outside – people talking, cars going by and alarms going off. I suppose it’s just as loud as Mike’s snoring so at least I can sleep through it ;)
  2. Water taps: I am not sure how to explain these things but I will try. It’s one handle, and you turn it on a little for warm water and stronger for cold water. Mike says to think of it as it taking longer to warm up when the water is on strong – therefore it’s cold water. The taps are electrical. They also look funny. I’ll have to send a pic sometime.
  3. Grocery stores: Reading the labels is interesting, but we’re figuring it out. The funny thing is, when you go to the check-out to pay, people just leave their carts by the conveyer belt – and not in any orderly fashion either. You have to push empty carts out of the way to get to the check-out. Bizarre.
  4. Food court meals are actually good: We live about a three minute walk from Plaza Granados – a shopping mall that has a grocery store and about a dozen shops. We were talking to Pao (our English-speaking apartment owner) and she said that the best food is from the food court. We found that hilarious…but after tasting…it’s true! We’ve had traditional food – salted pork on fluffy white corn, fried corn, cheese and potato soup, avocado and tomato. Yum! We even bought the fluffy white corn at the grocery store, since we liked it so much.
  5. People wear shoes in their houses: This is the case for our apartment at least. Everyone who has been here hasn’t taken their shoes off – something to get used to for this clean-freak girl.

We are very lucky that people are helping us out where they can and we look forward to starting our Spanish classes. We’ll be taking them everyday from 8:30-10:30 am and then working from 10:30-on at the office at Lead Adventures. Sounds like the job is going to be fun. I’ll learn more soon.

We didn’t do too much exploring this weekend (just in our area), but we hope to next weekend. One step at a time, I suppose.

It’s time for me to sign off. I think I’ve babbled enough for one day. I hope all of you are well!

Adios!

Shawna