Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hacienda Zuleta

We made it to Hacienda Zuleta by noon yesterday and were greeted by Caye's dad, Fernando, step mom, Carolina, and her two brothers, Manuel and Antonio. We then continued on to meet some of the staff who work at Zuleta. The hacienda is a rural eco-tourist hotel with miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. It is extremely beautiful... as you can of course see by the pictures!

The afternoon continued, playing frisbee and attending a party for Zuleta employees. During the party the employees showed off their "effigies". The effigies are made each year as a symbol of saying goodbye to the past year and welcoming in the new year. Many of them were very funny and even involved one of the male staff members dressing up as a woman in high heels. The prize for the best effigie was a sheep and second prize was $50.
The night continued back at Caye's families' house with spanglish conversations and more fruit. I think we have managed to eat about ten new fruits in just the two days we have been here.

Today we have been keeping busy as well. We slept in, but then went on a mountain bike ride to see condors, the trout farm, and horses. There will be more excitement tonight in celebration of the new year with drinks and burning of the effigies.

We hope you all are having a safe and happy celebration tonight! Feliz año nuevo a todos!


On the afternoon of the 28th we started our next set of travels by saying goodbye to Hank and then Sam, James, and his family before my parents drove us down to Madison. In Madison we caught the Van Galder bus down to O'hare and arrived at the airport around 9pm to wait for our flight, which wasn't scheduled to leave until 8 the next morning. So after a lot of waiting, people watching, and getting pretty much no sleep we were allowed to finally check our bags and enter the terminal to eat breakfast and drink coffee. We then caught our plane to Miami and had to hustle to our next plane for Quito but everything worked out beautifully and we landed right on time in Quito, made it through customs with no issues (even with the beard) to meet Jaxon and Caye at the arrivals gate.

They drove us to Caye's mother's house for the night and there we ate fruit, drank wine, and talked about all kinds of different things before retiring for the night. In the morning we awoke early, packed the car, and started our road trip to Caye's dad's house at the Hacienda Zuleta about two hours north of Quito. Before leaving Quito we stopped at a local store to buy fruit and snacks and then a bakery to buy sweets and bread.
The drive was beautiful and much less scary then how I've had South American driving described to me before, although there were definitely lower level of "safe" decisions made by other drivers. Along the way we were able to get some pan de yucca (yucca bread - delicious) with yogurt and a bunch more fruit which we had never tried before, all of them were delicious.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Holidays and Hasta Luego!

Happy holidays... a little late, we know! The family holiday celebrations are over and we had a wonderful time with both of our families eating, talking, gift-giving, eating, playing cards, just hanging out, and eating some more. Sorry for the lack of updates but we have been super busy just getting our day to days done that the blog has been put on the back burner. As of today our next journey starts! We are boarding a plane bound for Ecuador to meet up with our Mango friends and to check out everything that South America has to offer. Hank will be staying behind with Morgan's family and his new friend Ruby in Wisconsin.

We probably won't be updating that often once we are abroad (no computadoras are going with). We will try to keep everybody up to date as often as we can, but signing up for the email-updates is an easy way to know when we post without having to check all the time.

So for now North America, hasta luego!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Week in Review.

We arrived at my parent's place a week ago now and have been busy. So far we have written personal statements, photographed artwork, sold artwork, arranged gallery shows, bought/made Christmas gifts, written reviews, gone to a play, eaten amazing food, had wonderful conversations, cleaned, organized, biked, snowboarded, ran, slept (in a bed), and the list goes on. I will try to put more detail into the last couple lines, sorry about the lack of photos we've been busy. Anyhoo, here goes. The day after we arrived we tore the car back to normal and took Hank to the vet for a check-up and shots.

The next day I went snowboarding for 7 hours (in the rain) up at Rib Mountain in Wausau with a bunch of old friends: so much fun. Thursday we ran errands and then went to the American Players Theatre in Spring Green to see The Gift of the Magi which was fantastic. Friday we went back to Cafe 27 to enjoy Tom and Denise's amazing food before heading to the library and Stevens Point Co-op. After errands we made our way to the Central Waters Brewery in Amherst to have a beer. It turned out that it was the Amherst teacher's Christmas party and so I was able to drink a beer and mingle with a bunch of my favorite teachers from 1st grade to graduation (although there were some notable holes in the list).
Saturday and Sunday involved a ton of cleaning and re-organizing of my parent's garages and rooms. My payment to them for letting us stay there (although I'm not too sure how happy my Mom was about me cleaning). Sunday night involved great friends, delicious food, and fun conversations.
Yesterday was a ton of Christmas errands - fun but it sure doesn't feel quite like Christmas when the temps are above freezing and the grass is still green. Well, until next week, we wish you all the best for the Holidays!