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7 de mayo de 2017

Aventura a Baños, Ecuador

Habla! (slang for Hola) 

I know what you are thinking. Nicole hasn't  posted anything for such a long time while yeah I know. Anyway, last weekend was quite the adventure. I did the whole process of airplane travel, going on a bus to the airport, getting my belongings checked at customs, and landing in Quito, Ecuador from Lima, Perú. I was pretty proud of myself because I never flew by myself for the whole process of airplane travel. I met up with one of my best buds, Kelly or Kel or Kel Bell for short. Kelly is a good friend of mine from St. Mike's who is almost done studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador. We both traveled on many buses to finally get to our destination of Baños, Ecuador. Did they name it that because people pee in the streets? Get it. Baños means bathrooms and you go to the bathroom in Baños the city. Okay enough with potty talk. Baños, Ecuador is a funny place. There were these dinosaur cars that people rode around in. There were whole streets of the same type of kinds. For instance, I thought a street should be called la avenida pizza because every restaurant I saw was a pizza place on one street. Also, people casually make taffy in the street. No big deal. Anyway, we stayed at a hostel for two nights. We didn't get to do much the first night, except eat food and accidentally have a stray dog follow us for miles like we were its owners. She was so adorable, loved to be pet and get attention. Kelly told me that the stray dogs usually don't follow her for this long; she thought I must have something to do with this weird occurrence. The second day, we did quite a bit, zip-lining, swinging on a swing under a la casa de árbol (tree house), shopping, going to mass, and looking at a beautiful waterfall. Then on our last day, we took buses back to Quito and walked around. I was surprised by the heavy rainfall that came just after the sun disappeared. The rainfall had pieces of hail in it. Everything was fine getting hit slightly by tiny balls of ice and becoming very wet. Ecuador is very fickle with the weather in comparison to Peru's constant temperatures. The wet weather was a gift just for me because Kelly said it normally isn't this bad. It was a good time seeing Kelly and a new place. Descubran el mundo!

Hasta Luego, Nicole

21 de abril de 2017

Hola todas,

I know I am really bad about keeping up with a blog, but anyway I do what I can.  This past weekend I went to Iquitos, Peru which is one of four districts of the Amazon. I am so glad I went because it was such a different experience than Lima. There are motor taxis because the native people use the rivers as roads. It down poured for fifteen minutes and then stopped. Mosquitos are pretty aggressive. They loved my blood. I borrowed  98.1% DEET repellent from my friend and put it on my skin one day because my 25% DEET wasn't working too well. However, DEET is a man-made insect repellent that is fairly toxic and may cause neurological damage. Therefore, I was a bit nervous about using almost 100% DEET. I went through the day actually getting some bug bites. It didn't seem that effective, but I am not dead from malaria or DEET yet. Also, there are piranhas in the water, but Hollywood exaggerates how aggressive they actually are. My tour guide said that as long as I am not dead in the water; they will not bother me even if I am bleeding, but I am not entirely sure about that. But, I did go swimming in the black river in the Amazon, and I am still alive. I didn't get any piranhas bites. I also tried to fish for them. My friends caught some, but the ones I was trying to get were very good at stealing my bate. We all had the option to try the piranhas we caught later, and I tried some. They tasted pretty good, but I felt bad about eating them. For those of you who don't know. I am trying to be a vegetarian to lessen my carbon footprint and help save the environment. Cows produce a ton of methane which is one of the main carbon emissions contributing heavily to the green house effect, making the earth a lot warmer, hence global warming.  In addition, I care about the fair treatment of animals, and many times before they are slaughtered for their meat , they are treated so terribly. It isn't right. Anyway, I ate meat this time because I wanted to experience more of the peruvian culture. And, food is such a big part of culture. It is kind of a dilemma for me because I know I should not be eating meat, but I think cultures are important as well. What else did we do? I got to hold a squirrel monkey, an Anaconda, and a sloth. Good times.  Oh and we met a native tribe of the selva de Amazon (Amazon jungle).The chef member painted lines on our faces to represent our relationship status. We got to dance with the natives and blow darts out of a blowgun. It also was interesting to see the people in their native dress during the time of the Conquistador Columbus even though they just wore their traditional outfits for the tourists, but normally they wear modern clothes. I was glad that they didn't just put on a show for us; they just hung out mainly while the tour guide spoke since I felt like we were kind of exploiting them. However, these people do get compensated through the tour company I believe. That is all I got for now. Hopefully, I can blog again soon! Discover your world to the fullest!

Saludos, Nicole


23 de marzo de 2017

Water (el agua)

Hola todos(all),

I know it has been a little while since I last posted.  It has been crazy this last week and half. I have been trying to figure out what classes to take, but the main concern of mine recently was how I do I live with limited water. For those of you who don't know, Perú was hit with heavy rainfall over the past week. There was intense flooding in northern parts of Perú. This has been one of the worst flooding crisis in a while for Peruvians. The flooding has damaged approximately a hundred and a half thousand properties, has affected 650,000 people, and killed 79 people. The severe flooding backed up treatment plants in Lima, Perú. I am currently in Miraflores district in Lima, Perú. Water was cut off for me from mid-saturday to yesterday morning since our water tank ran dry mid-saturday. For others, the water wasn't available since Thursday of last week. I wasn't thinking at first when I heard about the flooding and water being cut-off from residences. I was confused because I still had running water, and my host mom just told me to take quick showers. She didn't say not to flush the toilet or use less water to do whatever I need to do. Therefore, I was using water, but not that much less than normal. Then, I realized that I should have been using less water. After it ran out, I went for a run because I was told that same day the water would return at 2pm. While after 2 pm passed, there was still no water. I realized that I probably wouldn't have water for a while. I did not shower that day, but the next day, my host parents got water from somewhere else, so we could bathe and flush the toilets. I got to use a rag, soap, and water to bath from a bucket. I felt a little better, but I was panicking. I was starting to think what if all the bottled water ran out. Will I ever get running water back? I was having a mental breakdown. I took for grated the water I used everyday. I did not know I needed water for so much. I need water to shower, to cook, to wash dishes, to flush the toilet, to brush my teeth, and to stay hydrated. After reading a post by my resident director, I felt guilty because here I was freaking out about how I could only do so much with a limited amount of water while other people lost their homes and loved ones. They needed the support and useable water more than anyone. Needless to say, over the past few days, I have learned to live with a tiny amount of water, to care for the water, and to recycle and reuse water. I have also volunteered my time to help those most affected. And, I even got to shower with running water! I feel blessed! Water is so precious for living yet so damaging in large quantities.  
          For some residents here, they would not say that they take water for granted. They say that floods have happened in the past and the government was supposed to have a plan to quickly fix the crisis situations, but they do not care if the citizens do not have clean water. The government is corrupt and cares more than anything about money. However, these floods were the worst that has been seen in a while probably due to global warming and melting of ice caps. The government aren't the only ones at fault. Even though mother nature isn't controlable, we all impact the environment; some more negatively than others. But, we have choice; we can either sit on the sidelines and watch the earth become destroyed or we can care for the environment. Use less water. Eat less meat. Grow our own food. Compost. Buy local food from local farmers. Recycle. It doesn't matter if we can't do all these actions or more. It just matters what we can do to lessen negative impact on the earth. Remember the earth provides so much for you, so give back to the provider! And, keep discovering!

7 de marzo de 2017

¡Hola Amigos!

I have been in Lima, Peru for a little over a week now. I am currently still doing orientation through the study abroad program, IFSA-Butler. I am starting to be more accustomed to the area and my bathroom. Taxis, buses, and any car will usually not stop for pedestrians and will continue at a very high speed. Don't throw toilet paper in the toilet; instead, in the trash. I know right toilet paper not in the toilet, weird. However, this is due to low water pressure. There is no personal space unless you mean the shape of your body, of course. Always greet and say Adiós or Chaufa (slang peruvian term for good-bye) even if you only have known the person for a few minutes, and it is common to kiss on one cheek. The toilet is your best friend when you got to go constantly because your stomach doesn't know the bacteria in Peru quite yet. Anyway, I am excited to began my classes next week at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Perú. I will be keeping you updated when I can with all of my adventures and discoveries in Perú. Keep on discovering, mis amigos!