Oh the Places You’ll Go!

The following is a series of posts from Ecuador by Jazmine Shoup, the recipient of Partners 2012 Ecuadorian Education Abroad Scholarship. Jazzy is traveling with the UK Honors Program lead by Kentucky Ecuador Partners Education chair, Dr. Larry Grabau.

A few days away!

May, 12, 2012

 In only a few short days I will be boarding a plane in Louisville and be on my merry way to Quito, Ecuador! Excitement fills my body as I begin to think of all of the adventures to be had while I’m there! This is the first post of many while I will be there! I’m going to try my best to post all of my experiences as often as possible! (when I have access to Internet, of course) stay tuned!!

Week one!!

May, 19, 2012

Where in the world to start!! First, this experience has been truly amazing and exceptionally rewarding! We’ve been here for four days now, and It’s almost hard to remember everything cause we’ve done so much! We’ve gone to saint Francis cathedral, El palacio en Ecuador (kindof like the white house of Ecuador!) it’s so cool! We were able to see where president Correa worked and held meetings! We climbed to the top of the Basilica that had an exceptional view of Quito!!! So beautiful! We visited a local University in Kumbaya and Toured there campus. We strolled in the Parque Carolina and had a tour of a local hospital where we were able to learna about the local AIDS and HIV clinic. Very rewarding and humbling experience! We climbed to the top of a VERY tell mountain and saw the Alto Rancho water project! When we climbed the mountain, we were litterally in a cloud! It was surreal! And that was all in just two days!

These last two days have also been filled with incredible experiences! We were able to travel to the equator and learn about it! Very interesting! Then we went shopping to Otovalo and were able to buy so many cool textiles! Purses, bags, scarves, cups, paintings, sweaters, jewelry! You name it, they had it. And it was all hand crafted and beautiful! After Otovalo we had our one night home stay with a local family! We stayed with a family that had a mom and two daughters, all of whom were so kind and generous! The home stay was so much fun! We were able to help with preparing the tratiditional meal, and chat with the family in Spanish! Then we played UNO and just had a great time laughing and being with one another! Today was also a great day! We went for a morning hike in the Andes mountains! It was too beautiful for words! A picture couldn’t even do it justice! It’s something I would recommend everyone doing!! After that we went to Otovalo and visited with a man who hand crafted wool and wool textiles, and then to a house where they made hand crafted Ecuadorean instruments! I wish I could write more, but internet time is limited, so I will keep writing with updates as soon as I can!!

So many more adventures to have!!!!!!

Only in Ecuador!

May, 25, 2012

So we have a bit of free time right now so I thought I would get a nice blog in to update everyone on the recent travels of our trip! So I´ll start where I left off- Banos! After our time in Otovalo and Cotacachi we made our way over to a very cool town called Banos. Translated it means hot springs becuase there are great hot springs in the town! We stayed at this amazing little hotel with hammocks, and beautiful scenery, and cute traditionally decorated rooms. While we were there we just walked around the town looking at the cute shops all over and going to a delicious chocolate store! And when I say delicious, I mean delicious! After just walking around, we went on a very steep hike up the mountain to a beautiful view of Banos! I made it about half way, but a few made it to the top and loved it 🙂 After Banos we drove about 20 minutes where we rode cable cars across a river through the Andes mountains, the wind blowing in our hair simply soaking in the experience. Then we drove a little further and took an hour or so hike to an amazing waterfall! A few of us walked to the bottom and a few of us walked to top- from what I heard from everyone´s responses, equally beautiful! After our hike and waterfall adventures we made our way to town called Puyo where we visited with a local hospital. The hospital employees 15 missionaries and 67 Ecuadorians! It was a wonderful place to go, especially since people were ministering to the people of the local community in such a beneficial way! It´s exactly what I hope to do with my life one day!

So now I am on to another day! And boy oh boy was this day exciting! We played with monkeys, hiked through the Amazon jungle, experimented with Amazonial medicinal treatments, swam in an incredible waterfall in the jungle, and visitd with a local village where we were able to have traditional markings of their people painted on our faces! So to say the least, the day was some what surreal and incredibly amazing! I have simply fallen in love with the culture, people, and beauty of Ecuador! Until another day!

by Jazmine Shoup

Uk Study Abroad Trip

May 19, 2012
My 2 roommates and I woke up around 6:30 to pack up and get ready for breakfast with our homestay family.  We stayed up pretty late the night before so we were tired and didn’t want to get out of the comfortable beds.  At 7 we went to eat breakfast with the family.  Soledad served us fresh juice, eggs, tortilla s (AKA corn biscuits), and some delicious fruit tea.  It was by far the best breakfast I have had in Ecuador.  After breakfast the girls begged us to play card games that we had taught them the night before, so we played one final game of Go Fish and then said our goodbyes.  It was really sad to leave because being with the family was such a positive experience.
On the bus we all chatted about our homestays and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.  We arrived at Laguna Cuicocha a bit later and after learning about some of the history behind the lake and the active volcano underneath we began a hike.  We hiked about a third of the way around before calling it quits.  The altitude was really affecting some of the girls, and we were surrounded by clouds so it was difficult to see.  Nonetheless, the lake was absolutely stunning and the story behind it was equally as mesmerizing.
We then headed to Otavalo where we ate a traditional lunch and then departed to visit an indigenous wool shop.  We watched a man turn raw wool into a complete scarf.  We were all very impressed and had a newfound respect for the people who make and sell wool products in the markets.  Then we went to a music shop where a man showed us how to make reed pipes and then he and his family performed for us.  A lot of the girls bought instruments and souvenirs.
After our learning experiences we travelled back to Quito and the Hotel Embassy where we relaxed until dinner.  We went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner which was nice because I think some of us were beginning to miss American food, and even though Mexican food isn’t American, it is something we were more familiar with.
It was quite an eventful day, and I think one of the most educational.
by Allyson Hughes

Hola from Ecuador!

May 18, 2012

University of Kentucky Study Abroad Trip

Today was a very busy day for our travelers! We started off our morning with a very anticipated stop—Otavalo! Otavalo is the largest open air market in the country, and one of the biggest in South America. We made lists of all the gifts and souveneirs we wanted to purchase and practiced our haggling skills on the bus ride. Before arriving in Otavalo we stopped at a sight seeing store and two Ecuadorian girls got on our bus to sing traditional tunes and let us “preshop.” They sold scarfs, bracelets, and traditional Ecuadorian pony tail wraps. I bought one and let one of the girls arrange my hair in the traditional Ecuadorian style. When we arrived at the market we quickly set out in groups to and pretty much bought one of everything. It was a lot of fun to haggle prices and see all the different colors and items represented in the market. After spending as much money as we could, we loaded the bus and headed to lunch at Runa Tupari where we ate lunch at their community kitchen. Then we went into the town of Cotacachi to a leather market.
After Cotacachi we dispersed into groups of two or three for our homestays. We were dropped off at different houses in two villages. My group of three had a wonderful time picking fruits from the garden of our homestay family, including fruits I had never heard of and of cours the favorite, Mora, which is a combination of blackberries and raspberries and make an absolutely delicious juice and marmalade. We spoke Spanish the entire time, since our families did not know English, which was a great way to build our speaking and listening skills. We helped make dinner after walking around the community and were treated to a delicious dinner of grilled steak and peppers, stir fry choclos, potato cakes, and Mora juice made from the exact berries we picked earlier in the afternoon. After being fully stuffed, we sat around the table and talked for hours. Our family was so accomodating and made us feel like part of the family. I was disapointed when we finally had to depart for bed because I knew our stay was almost over.
by Mariah Rowland