To the Middle of the World and Beyond

Hello everyone! This is my first post from Ecuador. In less than 24 hours, I will have officially been in Ecuador for one week. It has been amazing thus far! Today was my first day of classes at CEDEI (Centers for Interamerican Studies). I can tell that the classes are going to be challenging; however I am going to stay optimistic about them because I know that I am going to learn a lot.
I met my host family Saturday evening, and so far I am in love with them. They are the Carvallo-Solis family. There are five members in the family, but only one son still lives at home. Their home is absolutely gorgeous. Inside the home there are two kitchens, three dining rooms, three living rooms, a spiral staircase, a garden, and a house for the maid in the backyard. I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to live in such an extravagant house.
Cuenca is a beautful city. The city is separated into two parts: the old section and the new section. El Rio Barmaba (The River Baramba) is what separates the two sections. Cuenca is lined with cobblestone streets, French-inspited architecture, parks, and 17th century churches. There is a perfect combination of new swanky clubs mixed with colonial architecture.
While everything has been great, I would be lying if I said that I was able to understand and speak Spanish perfectly. My first evening in Cuenca my host mom Marina took me out to their family owned reception hall called La Floreana. What I didn't know before arriving was that it was there reception hall and she wanted to show me where their family worked. Being a little shaky on my Spanish skills, I thought that Marina was taking me to a welcome party that was being hosted in my honor. As soon as we arrived at La Floreana, my face lit up with excitement and I turned to Mariana and repeated over and over "Muchas Gracias" (Many Thanks). I walked into La Floreana and was immediately greeted by my host brother Santiago. Not wasting any time I turned to Santiago and said, "You did not have to go through all this trouble just for me". With a confused look on his face, Santiago replied "My mother brought you here because she wanted to show you where we all worked". I immediately tried to look serious and nodded my head pretending that I knew that was the reason all along.
Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I promise to continue to keep you all updated.
Peace and Love :)

Here I go again...

Well, it is time to leave the country once again. My destination this time is Cuenca, Ecuador. I am both excited and slightly nervous. Before I left for Vietnam, I felt as if I had months to prepare. I do not know if it is due to the fact that I have less anxiety about this trip or what the underlying cause may be, but I feel extremely calm about this trip. The scary part is I am heading to the airport in less than 24 hours!
What I have discovered after traveling to Vietnam is as long as you have your passport, money, underwear, and comfortable walking shoes you are good to go... at least for a a few days :). This trip is going to be different from Vietnam. First, is the length of the trip. I am about to embark on a ten week trip where I will visit Guayaquil, Quito, La Costa, and El Oriente. I will be taking 16 credit hours of Spanish classes with 18 other Ohio University Students. One graduate student is traveling with us. She will serve both as our chaperone and one our professors.
I will be living with a host family. I just received their contact information yesterday. They truly sound like great people; I cannot wait to meet them.
With an open mind, lots of sunscreen, and my malaria medication, I am ready to leave for Ecuador. Look out Ecuador here I come!

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