Showing posts from May, 2012

Trekking in Cotopaxi National Park!

My mom is here to visit! On her first weekend, we went to Secret Garden, my favorite Ecuador hostel, and had a lovely time. My mom rented a horse and I joined in on a trek to Cotopaxi National Park. Here are some great quality photos (sarcasm-still need a new camera after mine got stolen in Colombia) from my Blackberry. We intended to go up Cotopaxi to the Refugio and glacier but the wind was so strong we couldn't even open the doors to the car at the base. Our guide said he had never seen anything like it in 15 years, and it was a sign that we should respect the mountain. He took us to some treks around the base instead, and we had a great time. This was all about 2 hours outside of Quito.

White Water Rafting in Tena

I went to Tena with a group of friends last weekend to raft a level 3-4 river. Tena is a town that is an entrance to the Amazon in Ecuador. We showed up Friday night and stayed at a little hostel with a lovely view. Tena is a cute little town that seemed safe. There was one bar/club that the entire city of Tena goes to on the weekends. We jumped up on a platform and danced the night away to cheesy reggaeton.

View from my hostel in Tena
 Dancing at the only club in Tena  The rafting was incredible! We used the tour company ‘River People,’ which has all certified bilingual guides. Our guide kept me feeling totally secure but still encouraged us to do some crazy tricks with the raft. We did a raft wheelie, and paddled backwards into a wave to make the raft go ‘surfing.’ There was some bridge jumping, rafts flipping over, riding rafts like cowboys, and swimming into waterfalls. The worst rapid was called the ‘waffle maker’ because it has been known to fold rafts in half. I almost fell out, b…

Damiana Levy Dance Studio in Quito

I LOVE my dance studio here in Quito! For the first couple months in Ecuador, adjustment wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. In Tallahassee, and then in Guatemala, I had my place in the community, and that was lacking here in Ecuador as I threw myself into a new job. I tried out some belly dance classes at a different studio, but could tell it just wasn't my style. So I kept searching for dance studios online and found one that stood out- Damiana Levy Dance Studio. Damiana, the owner, is everything I could hope for in a teacher. Not only is she a beautiful dancer, but she pushes you and inspires you to be the best possible dancer you could be as well. The classes are structured, strict, and yet I still have fun and get to be expressive.

Damiana Levy Facebook
 Having a fun time dancing in a circle around a birthday girl in class
My teacher and studio owner- Damiana Levy
There are 4 levels for adults.
Level 1: Beginners
Level 2: …

TelefériQo in Quito

A couple weeks ago I tried to do the Ciclopaseo with some friends and we had no luck trying to rent a bike. The company kept telling us there were employees renting bikes in what was clearly an empty store (we know it was empty, because we were standing in front of it). How you could so blatantly lie is unbeknownst to me, but we used that motivation to do something fun and FINALLY go up the TelefériQo (teleferico and Quito combined). It is a huge cable car or gondola lift, one of the tallest in the world. It took about ten minutes to get to the top, and we were lucky that it was a clear day on our way up! When we went back down about an hour and a half later, it was already grey and raining. It’s about a three dollar cab ride from where I live in the North, and going up costs about 4 bucks. We decided to pay the three extra dollars and skip the huge line.
 Look how long the line is! We paid 3 bucks and skipped the whole thing Laura and Brian in the gondola The TelefériQo goes up the side …

Visiting Jurassic Park... in Colombia!

This was really the last sight of our Colombia trip. Way to go out with a bang! Parque Tayrona looks straight out of Jurassic Park. It’s an easy day trip out of Santa Marta, but we had a slow start and were short on time. Therefore, we decided to ride horses into the park instead of doing the 2 hour hike to the beach we wanted to visit. The horse rides were mostly without incident, but I think they could sense that all 4 of us fear horses.

 This horse can sense my fear!!
 At least I'm not the only one scared shitless!
These beaches were so worth the rides
I wish I could have spent more time here... Approaching the beach we saw a monkey and iguana just hanging out like it was their job. Welcome to the jungle! The park had hostels where you could stay, so I want to return for a longer stay and hang out overnight because we only had an afternoon there. The way out of the park was a gorgeous hike along the beach and then into the tropical forest. I feel like Parque Tayrona is some huge sec…

Playa Blanca, Colombia

This was a ridiculous little overnight trip from Cartagena. We heard there was a ferry to get to Playa Blanca, a small strip of beach on an island off the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Of course we slept through the ferry option and had to use the ‘alternate route’ which turned out to be one of the greatest adventures of our trip. A guy we had met from our hostel told us that in 3 simple steps, we could get to Playa Blanca without the ferry. The following are the directions he gave us, with my additional comments in parentheses. 1. Take a taxi to a tiny tiny village called Pasacaballos. (Holy hell, where are we? This is the sketchiest place I have been in my life.) 2. Go to the port and take the cargo boat across the water passage to the island. (Which of these five ports are we supposed to go to? Ah, here we are. Shit! I take it back! THIS is the sketchiest place I have been in my whole life!) 3. Moto taxis will be waiting for you on the other side, and the beach is a 40 minute ride from…

Caribbean Coast of Colombia

I visited two cities on the Caribbean coast that I am going to squeeze into one entry because I only spent two days in each. Cartagena was a bizarre experience because the second night we were there, it was the presidential summit. Yes, the infamous Secret Service agents ripping off hookers presidential summit. The old walled city was really all I saw because each time I was there, I was passing through. Regardless, I had a ton of fun in this city, in part because of the awesome group at my hostel. I am used to a lack of diversity here in Ecuador, and Cartagena had such a strong African influence that it really surprised me. The town itself was really vibrant, bright colored buildings and flowers and hanging vines everywhere. The beaches in Cartagena aren’t the best, but there are amazing beaches within a short distance.

 Sunset in Cartagena
Lovely Colonial Streets
We splurged on a nice sushi meal one night in Cartagena
The architecture here was unreal!! Santa Marta was my favorite coastal …