Wednesday, December 26, 2012

[Part 2.] A MUSTard READ.

OK… yes, I know it was a little more than a day for this last post, BUT in my defense, I had it all ready to go, I just didn’t have my computer for a week…  You will have to stay tuned to hear all about that adventure filled week. *

As for the first couple of weeks in December they were quite filled with parties and traveling. The first whole week in January is what is called the Quito Festivals. It is a time where everyone in the city has huge parties to celebrate the Independence Day on the 6th of December. (Except the parties are all week) They have a certain card game that is also played at this time called Cuarenta (or 40). I will now say that I am an EXPERT Cuarenta player and actually beat my teacher in a game when we played…

So after that fun filled week, I went finally started traveling and headed down to a town called Cuenca. Cuenca is a beautiful city with a Historic Center that blows a lot of other towns out of the water. There are a ton of Churches, and many different shops/restaurants/vendors everywhere selling things.  I had a wonderful time there and actually was angry I didn’t plan to spend MORE time there. I thought I was going by myself but while having lunch with two of my classmates, I dropped the idea to them and they seemed up for the challenge. I had the luxury of taking a flight to Cuenca, so I got there a day before the boys and had time to explore and walk around the city by myself.

 While I was eating supper alone, I saw another man (who looked as if he spoke English, and was also traveling) eating as well, so after I finished most of my meal, I got up the courage** and went up to this complete stranger in hopes of making a new friend. It totally worked. It was nice to have someone to drink a beer and have a conversation with. And as it turned out, he wanted to go to the same city I did the next day, so we made plans to meet up when my other two boys got here to go to Chordoleg.
Chordeleg is known for their silver jewelry and market. So the four of us met up in the morning and took the hour bus ride to this great little city in hopes of having a great day. Now, I had a wonderful day.. looking through all the jewelry shops and trying my best to converse with the people in the shops… the boys on the other hand, well let’s just say it is a little ironic I went to a town known for their jewelry with 3 boys. They didn’t even go in one store because that just isn’t what most boys are interested in. However, they allowed me to shop and never rushed me to hurry up and pick something out. When I finally did pick something out, I even bartered with the man and got him to sell a ring to me for 25 dollars!

The next day we decided to go to The Cajas National Park.  The Cajas is a wonderful little national park with tons and tons of lakes scattered through the mountains. Getting there was a bit of a bust because the bus driver didn’t let us out at the correct point, so we had to wait on the side of the road for another bus to drive by to bring us 8 km back up the mountain so we could get going on our hike. (So on a side note make sure the guy who takes your money is on the bus or atleast know where you are going… OTHERWISE they just blow right past your stop.) It was a cold day but we figured that once we started to hike we would be just fine and honestly we were. Come to find out however, this whole entire park is basically one big wetland so needless to say our shoes and socks were soaked by the end of our trek. We even managed to get lost for a little while and had to do some major mountain climbing in order to get to the road instead of turning around and hiking back for 3 hours. Thank gosh there was another girl with me, otherwise I would have felt very VERY miserable complaining to the boys about how much it sucked getting lost.

The trail that we took was one that didn’t bring us directly back to where we started and so again we were in the middle of nowhere waiting for a bus to drive by in order to bring us back to Cuenca. So while waiting, we did what any group of 20 somethings do best… started walking with our thumbs out. A ton of cars passed us, but finally a very nice man decided to pull over and give us a ride home. He had a huge van and he was the only one in it! *** We had a great conversation on the ride back, and he dropped us off right close to our hostel. So now I can officially cross off Hitch Hiking off of the bucket list I don’t actually have.

Again, you will have to wait a couple days to hear about my most recent travels and holiday festivities… but until then, I hope that everyone had a Happy Christmas and made a cake to help Jesus celebrate his birthday.  


*I would say tomorrow but you know how that went last time… whoops.

**Maybe it was the wine…. Liquid courage is still courage in my book

*** No, the van wasn’t White… Yes, the van had windows… No there were no blood stains or faint screams coming from anywhere.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

[Part 1.] Playing Ketchup.

Disclaimer: This will be a two part blog... I found this part started already that I forgot to blog about.

Well, it's that time again. With a cup of tea in my hand and my mind full of Spanish Vocab I start throwing my thoughts around, trying to make sense of everything that is happening around me whilst* trying to please the wonderful readers I happen to attract.

I should actually start off wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I am not going to lie, Thanksgiving has been the only day thus far that I have been homesick... (sorry mom and dad) I am a big fan of Thanksgiving because it is so much less stressful for people than Christmas and you get to eat ALLLLL day.  So, because of my love for Thanksgiving I decided to mention to my "mom" that I was throwing around the idea of making a small Thanksgiving meal but wasn't sure if I wanted to put that much effort into it. She then replied with "We will go to the store tomorrow and you can get what you need. Then we can invite some people over..." After that, it was history. It turned out that we kept thinking of more and more people to invite and it ended up that we were cooking for around 25 people total! This made me a WEE bit nervous... but with her expert skills in the kitchen and my well, skills? in the kitchen we made it happen. We decided to celebrate on Friday vs Thursday since many people had to work on Friday Morning. This ended up working out perfect. Everyone seemed to have a great time and were very thankful that they were apart of this American tradition. (That was the icing on the cake for me. Not only did they enjoy the food, but they appreciated the Holiday!! HOORAY!)**

I suppose a lot has happened since I have last blogged. I apologize to my devoted followers that I have let down but life has been a bit crazy down South. To start off, if I sound much more mature/older/smarter/better it is because I am officially an Aunt. This being my first niece and all I should probably step up my game in life so it seems as if I can be an ok role model. But seriously. I am so jazzed to see that little Baby G when I get home. She seems pretty cute, even though she is pretty fresh still, and from what I hear from mi hermana she is very well behaved and is doing just great! Other than the fact that she is not a fan of baths... but HEY, you can't win em all right? She will just be that really stinky baby.

I believe I finished my Spanish classes up for a while last Friday. This week a friend is in Quito, so I will be hanging out with her, and then the next week is Christmas and I leave for Colombia for about 3 weeks. I really think that my Spanish has improved however, I still need to get MUCH better to feel as if I accomplished anything. I learned the basics of how to form sentences and conjugate words… So now I just need to practice speaking and I know I will get much better.  I can’t believe I was in classes for a month.. MAN how the time flies. Really I am very excited to start traveling so much more because my Spanish improves so much faster when I NEED to use it.
I know I shouldn't talk about Christmas and Thanksgiving in the same post BUT no one is here to stop me so I am going to do it. Christmas down here is going to be very different I can tell already. Currently it is rather close to Christmas and honestly, I am feeling no spirit. Now, this isn't "I am feeling no Spirit" in a depressing way but really just in a different way. Down here there is no focus on drinking White Chocolate Peppermint Mochas everyday, baking 1000 different kinds of Christmas treats and the ever so lovely constant thoughts of what to buy so-and-so for Christmas. I really don't mind it what so ever. I really think that this year, Christmas will have an entire focus on what it should be on. JESUS' BIRTH! This is exciting but I will admit I about peed my pants in excitement the other day in the Grocery store because I heard a Christmas Song. (that was my first of the season, and it was 4 days ago... this is a record for any American I think) Regardless, it will be sad not to be around my family and friends but I am very excited to experience a new kind of Christmas with a big family that is wonderful.

SOO: Coming up on Tomorrow's Blog. Latest Travel Stories as told first hand by THEE Laura Anderson . With twists and turns, romance and break ups it will be sure not to disappoint.

*Yes, I used the word whilst.. No I am not sure one would get points for this word in Scrabble but I tend to use it every now and again.
** You can refer to my Facebook for pictures of the FEAST.

#Ecuador #Christmas #Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 18, 2012

¿Por qué querrías hacer eso?

I think I have figured out the slogan for Ecuador.... Ecuador: The land of no Post Offices.

Ok, they exist... but The other day I asked Gonzalo (my older, temporary new brother)* where I could mail a couple letters/postcards etc that I have. His response "Why would you want to do that? Isn't that what E-mail is for?" Turns out this kid has never mailed a letter in his life. So I went to the best source (his mom) and was told that people don't really mail letters down here. They operate on the PO Box system but even then many people don't even have a PO BOX. If something needs to be delivered it is usually not sent through the USPS but through someone like UPS. So to all of you back home... Hopefully your mail will be coming, I just need to figure out a convenient way to send it!

I have officially completed one week of Spanish Classes. I now know what it feels like to be mentally exhausted. I knew that learning Spanish would be hard but geeze, every day after class I was so exhausted, it was ridiculous. Now, let before you start to judge let me explain to you my thoughts on why I believe this happened:

Laura J's TOP 3 Reasons for Exhaustion

1.) For my classes it is just me and a teacher, which means that I have to be paying attention the entire four hours I am in class. If I daze off for even a minute, my teacher catches me because she asks me a question that I don’t know or asks me a how to conjugate a word that I should know by now but don't know how.

2.) Not only do I have to pay full attention to the topic but it is a topic that I don't know and can't fake a made up answer for. Yes, I took two years of Spanish in high school but most high school students just took it as a require class. And having taken it as a freshman, that is almost 8 years ago and you and I both know that it is hard to remember what we had for lunch last week, let alone what the past tense for tener is.

3.) I, Laura Anderson have not had to use my brain power this hard in a long time. I graduated from school almost a year ago. Now, I am not saying that I have stopped learning but I have not had to put that much brain power into many of my jobs. I feel like it is completely different learning a skill versus learning something like a language.

I have even had to get back into the homework mode. The best part about me doing my homework is that there are usually children around me when I have to do homework. So it ends up being me and 3 or 4 bi-lingual (for the most part) 10 year olds gathered around me VERY eager to help make sure I answer each question correctly but laughing at me when I don't understand something .**

The weather here has been extremely rainy this week, but it is unpredictable. One point during the day it is sunny and beautiful, then after lunch as I am walking to the bus it starts to hail. I supposed I shouldn't complain since it is not snow, and is usually rather nice, but dang... It would be nice for a little bit of a heads up so I would know what I need to wear to be comfortable for the day. I am guessing all of November and into December will be like this since it is their "winter/rainy" season.

Other than than the downpours, life down south has been great!I haven't really done much since the first week I was taking it easy and acclimating to all the changes and last week I was so exhausted everyday, I would eat lunch, go home, do homework and then hit the hay. The food here is wonderful and so are the people! Since I am staying with a family I have met SO much of their family and many of their son's friends. Everyone is so welcoming and always offers their phone number "Just in case you need anything or anyone to party with". I love that about the people down here because I honestly think they mean it. Once you are welcomed into their family/friend group.. you are there for the long run.

Ok. Enough rambling. There is tons more to say but it will just have to wait for other posts. I have already stayed up past my bedtime and my teach can totally tell when I have been up all night.*** No bueno.

*Who is this HERMANO guy....
**When they start to get cocky I throw out words in English that they don't know, just to make myself feel better.
***Maybe if she didn't give me so much, I wouldn't have to stay up so late. *

             *also, maybe if I didn't put it off for so long I could go to bed earlier. It's bitter sweet really.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A papya al día mantiene alejado al médico ...or atleast I hope it does.

Ok. So to start off, I must admit... I thought I would be better at this blogging thing. Montana proved that wrong, but Montana also proved that Internet is not important in any way, shape or form. I felt as if I was off the grid for the past 6 months but honestly loved it. But I don't know, I felt that if people really wanted to know how I was doing, they would have sent me a message of some sort to ask. However, now that I am in the Southern Part of the Americas I suppose I will try and keep people updated on my new life for the next couple months.

So put your seat backs and tray tables are in their upright and locked position as we get ready for literary takeoff.

Ecuador, the land of 10,000 lakes... wait. no. Ecuador, the lost underwater city... errr.. Ok. So I don't exactly know the slogan of this place yet, but hey give a gringa a break, I have only been here now for two days. BUT what a wonderful two days it has been.

I was greeted at the airport by the lovely Elina, the woman I am staying with, her son Diego and the ever so wonderful Adriana. Elina even had a sign with my full name on it! (how cute right?) Once we get to my new home, I am showed where my room is and once I put my stuff down, we sit around the table, speaking choppy English trying to understand each other until everyone is tired enough since now it is around 2:00 in the morning.

My first actual day in Quito is filled with eating a fresh papaya for breakfast*, getting an Ecuadorian cell phone number, and going to a birthday party. The party was the highlight of my day because I got to share a meal with family and felt like I was getting a peek into what my future holds for me. (Which is obviously to host parties where you can only speak in Spanish, while eating delicious food...)

The best part thus far is the fact that everyone has been so nice to me trying to speak as much enlgish as they know while I sit back and try and comprehend their Spanish. If it is one thing I know about myself is the fact that I get very frustrated when I am not good at something. Now, I am not saying that I am an all-star at everything, but I am not used to being so bad and out of the loop on something as simple as understanding people. This however will give me the motivation I need to pick up Spanish a lot faster than I would have back home in the states.

With that being said. I am proud to announce that I have picked a Spanish School that I will be starting first thing Monday morning. I looked up a couple different schools online and today I went and looked at the top two on my list. The first one I looked at I liked right away, but it was more expensive than the other, so I had to at least go take a look at my other option. Upon struggling to find it, once I got there, I knew right away that the first school was the school for me. I decided that I am willing to pay the extra 1.35/hour to be in a place that I will really like vs. a place that I only kind of enjoy.
The other great thing about this place is the fact that most of the profits they make go towards helping developing communities in the area that they work directly with. I have the opportunity to volunteer with these places too, if I so choose.

I am not going to lie though, I am rather nervous to start only because I have been out of a school setting for almost one year now. What if I forget a pencil on the first day of school, or the other kids don't want to get lunch with me? OR I am not as good as Spanish as them so they make fun of me in Spanish, but I don't actually know what they are saying, so I laugh too. Goodness gracious, I hope I don't have nightmares before my first day.

OK. Enough rambling for one day. This girl needs some supper.

*I have fallen in love with papayas. Today I bought five huge ones for TWO DOLLARS. I feel like in the states, you can't even buy one papaya for two dollars. I have a feeling fruit will be my Kryptonite while down here.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Connection. BOOM.

Preface: Sorry this took so long but my computer would not connect to any form of Internet. BUT IT GOT IT!! HORRAY! So, sit back, crack a cold one, and ENJOY! [This one is on the house]

Two weeks ago today (hopefully when I get to post it, it will have been exactly two weeks) I packed up my car, plugged in my iPod, strapped down  my bike and began the trek out “West” to start a new chapter of my life. So far I would say that it is going well, but like any other chapter in “The Unexpected Life of Laura Jean: Life on the Prairie to Life Anywhere Else”* I can only imagine what will come next, in this brief small adventure filled section. I have decided to stray away from my Blind Dates and try and blog more about my experiences since you all failed in finding me dates. This isn’t to say that I won’t EVER blog about dates again, but for now, or should I say [until the next one] you will be getting updates about my time here in Montana. **

Now this is where I spill my thoughts:

Montana. AKA, “Big Sky Country” What does that mean anyway. As I was driving through this GIANT state on my way to my most recent adventure, all I kept thinking to myself was, ok… The sky does not look any bigger than usual, and the scenery sucks, so why do so many people love this place. Let me tell you one thing, it is definitely not because of Billings. Billings Montana was one of the ugliest towns I have ever seen in my life. (Sorry to those of you who are from the Big B, MT) But seriously, it is a very industrial, dirty, un-scenic city that I was happy to just drive through. The whole time I was driving through, all I kept thinking was “This better get better, otherwise I may have just made a HUGE mistake.”  and well, of course, it did.

On day two we stopped in Bozeman for the night, and let me tell you. I have found a new favorite city. Bozeman is this college town full of urban, local, awesomeness. I know what you are thinking; it can’t be that cool right? WRONG! These people actually know how to drive cars when bicyclists are ON THE SAME ROAD. It is a very common occurrence. They have BIKE RACKS for people to park their bikes. They have a fully updated main street, lots of small, local shops, and tons of fun bars all within walking distance. The best part is, all of this is nestled in the mountains! So beautiful, and so awesome, and I can’t wait to go back up and actually VISIT.

That's all for now. I have another post waiting to be finished. BUT I will post it in the next couple of days.

*Copyright LA, not to be stolen. However suggestions are GLADLY appreciated.

**All disappointed parties may stop reading here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Date #1.

So, here I am.  Alive and well after date number 1.  I don't really know how to start an introduction to something like this, so I suppose I will just go for it! Oh and just for the record, I am not going to use names of the boys, just in case they actually log on and read this... (which I will talk about very soon)

I found out that I was supposed to meet him at the theatre at 7:10, so I did my best to show up on time, and when I arrived, he was standing in the lobby waiting for me.. (Ok, So I was that two minutes late , but I would deem that as  acceptable, because after all, you don't want to be the first one there) Also,I really had no idea what he looked like. I had only seen one picture on a website that I could base my findings off of.  So I went up to, who I hoped, was him and cheerfully said hello, and we made a bit of small talk. I asked him what movie we were going to see, which he then proceeded to tell me that he was told he had to take me to see The Devil Inside Me. Thank gosh I knew that that stupid* movie was not playing at the cheap seats, otherwise like I said before, I would have left right then and there. But, after I got out the truth, I was quite happy that we were going to see The Muppets!

So, we walk up to the counter, and he automatically says, 2 please, and then pays for my ticket! Phew... what a relief that was. I didn't want it to be that awkward, well um, err... one? two? Then you just say ONE, I will just get myself, to stop the awkwardness that is happening. So then we walk into our theatre, go into the small talk scenario for about 5 mins, and then the movie starts. We watch contently, commenting to each other ever now and then, but for the most part, we are just watching the movie. After the movie is over, we get up, start walking out of the theatre and talk a for maybe 2 more minutes, and then part ways. THAT IS IT.

I would say that it was a pretty painless first date, but honestly... it was kind of disappointing! After the movie I even made the effort of saying, "Well what are you up to now", to which I got the response of him being hungry and needing to go and study for a test. After I agreed, and said that I too had some homework to finish up, we parted ways, went to our cars and said, "well, see ya later". He didn't even ask for my number, or  set up another time to hang out or anything. So either he didn't enjoy how I watch movies so he never wants to see me again, he is shy about asking girls for their numbers, or he just didn't even think about how he would contact me after this date was over. No mater which option it is, they are all kind of depressing!

Now for the twist. An hour or so later, I get a notification that I have a friend request on FB. So I check to see who it is, and of course it is him. Now, first thing that went through my mind was, alright cool, that must mean I am not a terrible person to watch movies with. BUT THEN IT DAWNS ON ME. THE FLAW IN MY PLAN, THE UNSEEN, UNHEARD SILENT NINJA THAT WANTS TO PUT A DAMPER ON MY NYR. I have been posting all of these blog updates all over my facebook wall for the past week. If I accept his friend request, he will be able to see all that I have been posting, and HE WILL BE ABLE TO READ THIS POST! I didn't know what to do and started to call my friends asking for advice. And really, it isn't that big of a deal, but still, it would be pretty embarrassing if I logged onto someones facebook page and read about the date we had just had! Especially if we only talked for a total of 10 minutes! After coming up with some solutions, which include deleting all notions of the blog off my wall, and blocking the web link from him, I just hope that he doesn't stumble upon the link somewhere, and reads this, and thinks I am a terrible person.

Now  again, just for the record! I am not out to embarrass anyone, or make a fool of anyone, I am honestly just doing this for fun, and to prove a bit of a point. I hope that if he is reading this, he takes it with a light heart, and an humorous spirit!

So just for the record: My thoughts about Date #1.
I had a good time, but honestly we didn't really have an opportunity for anything to go wrong. Do I suggest ever just going to a movie with someone you don't know? No. Go to coffee, or dinner or ice cream before or after just so then you can get to know each other better. At least I didn't have any awkward hand holding situations or anything... but still. I don't really know anything about him, like at all. But, as they say in show biz, ON TO THE NEXT!


* By stupid I really mean super freaky.

Pre-Game Post.

All the great sports team and college kids all practice the same art of pre-gaming before the big game or event. Of course they are done in completely different ways, but nevertheless, it is still before the event. (Game film, beer its all for preparation of something right?)

This post, is my pre-date post.

Tomorrow is the big day. I, Laura J. Anderson, have a date tomorrow. I received the news today that the date had been set up, of course right away I was excited to hear it! I have been getting worried that I may not ever reach my NYR of 26 dates, if I can't even find a first one. Well, lady luck is on my side, and will hopefully stay on my side tomorrow night around 7:20... or 7:00. Truth be told, I can't remember what time I am supposed to meet him. Most movies usually start at like 7:20 I think, so maybe I will just go with that.  I know, this is not a good way to start, and I am always terrible at being on time anyway*, so this could be a bad first impression. I need to mentally prepare myself for what I am about to get into, the journey I am about to start, and the chances I am going to take.

I am going to be honest here people, I am NER-VOUS, like real nervous. Now, being the cool calm collected person I am, it may not seem at all like I am, but sheesh.. this is a bit ridiculous. I blame part of my nerves on a blind date HORROR story someone told me today in which he kept repeating, "Seriously, I am not making this up...". I will be the first to admit that I always am thinking of the worst possibly things that could go wrong. However, I know that this one will be pretty painless, and most likely just fine. .. or so I keep telling myself. Unless he tries to hold my hand... WHAT DO I DO IF HE TRIES TO HOLD MY HAND????

The Agenda:
Going to a movie at West Mall 7. I do not know which movie, all I told my friend was that if it was a scary movie, I will get up and leave. I don't do scary movies. Other than that, I am up for anything. My guess? The Muppets, well that is just my hope, I haven't seen it yet, and would love to go to it! But, I do have quite a distinct laugh that is quite loud in a theater setting, so maybe going to a funny one could be detrimental. If it is about an animal, I am destined to cry, and seriously that would just be awkward to cry on a first date. So I guess that leaves me with an action flick... I am ok with that.

So my pregame.. err... pre-date ritual will be to pick out my outfit, get a pep talk, eat supper, and listen to some ABBA or Jay-Z/Kanye on the way to the theatre. So if any of you have any tips, advice or suggestions on what to wear, how to act or anything else in general, PLEASE let me know. The suggestion box is below, and is waiting to be filled with knowledge.

Also, as for the results of this date.. well you will just have to click back in and read all about it tomorrow!


*Seriously, ask anyone. They will all say that same thing. I am late. I show up late to things. I am a terrible person because I can never be on time.. blah blah blah.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Years Resolution.

New Years Resolutions... They are kind of like bananas, everyone has them, but nobody keeps them.. IT'S CALLED BANANA BREAD PEOPLE, learn how to make it. But anyway, I was talking with a couple of my friends over beer, around the first of the year, expressing how I don't ever have NYR, because, well I don't want to fail.* But, we started discussing how maybe it would be fun if I chose the Top 10 NYR that everyone picks and make them mine, dominate them, and then brag about it. As great as this sounded, we came up with a better idea.

I shouted out the idea of going on 52 blind dates and blogging about them. Realizing how unrealistic this goal was, I decided to drop it down to 26. That is two dates a month, and I think** that that is do-able. Now, I, Laura A, have not been on a real date since my Sophomore year in High School. Yes, that long ago. So lets just say I am actually SUPER NERVOUS, but my excitement outweighs the butterflies, so BOOM. I don't see why people can't just date anymore. It seems like you either have to be single (AND LOVIN' IT***) or have that coveted Ring by Spring. (I go to a Private Baptist School, where I think there is an engagement everyday... seriously)

But, as I sit in Week 2 of January, I find myself still at square one, dateless and ashamed. I need to find a way to get blind dates without putting to much thought into them. So, if you know of anyone that I don't know, PLEASE, for the love of all that is good in the world, SET ME UP! I won't break their hearts****, I promise.


*Also, I am Catholic, I already have to do a "resolution" for during Lent. Let me tell you what, that is hard enough already, and it is only a couple weeks.
** I am starting to think that this might even be impossible.
*** gag.
**** I just won't call them back

My First Time.

Ok, here we go kiddos. My first post. Please hold on to your hats, and your patience. Just like any good business student know, while writing some sort of document, I need an Executive Summary. 

In this blog, I will be expressing my thoughts, feelings and passions. I can't pick one subject to talk about, because that is not how my mind works. There will of course be continuations of posts from time to time, but no matter what I post, it is guaranteed* to be enjoyable. As of right now, I have a minimal background/design, but looking towards the future, I see greatness. Overall, I hope you will be pleased with my blog, The View from My Stoop, and please give any suggestions you may have.


 (ok, not guaranteed, but I am hoping)