Monday, June 30, 2008

el cajas

Once we returned early afternoon I rushed home for lunch and a shower. I really enjoy the outdoors but the lunch of a cheese sandwich and the night's dinner of packaged cream of tomato soup and overcooked pasta didn't quite to it for me. I basically just filled up on the whole-wheat crackers and an orange I had packed. Not all was lost though because late Saturday night, on an open fire, I made one of the best s'mores I have ever had. Like seriously, yummy! Back to Sunday... To start my mom made me my own salad! Haha, she had seen how I always took so many servings of the large family-size one so she figured I deserved my own. How sweet, it was delish as always :).
Following mi ensalada I had fish, rice, and... yuca! It was my first time trying it and oh. my. gosh. was it good! They fried it which took away from the nutritional content I'm sure but wow. I thought it was just a couple of french fries so I pretty much avoided it but by the end of everything else I was still hungry so I figured I'd better eat up. Thank you tummy! I'll be back soon this week with updates on more exciting news. Here's a preview: I'm planning on eating out a lot more since I have very little time left in Cuenca, thus, there will be a multitude of new varieties of food. Until then, I hope everyone is having a good week in the states or wherever you may be!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

feliz cumpleaños helen!

This weekend was so much fun! I'm going to work my way backward, so please just relax, sit back, and enjoy my show :)Last night was my friend, Helen's birthday so we went to a Mexican restaurant. I had one of the best Vegetarian burritos with Red Wine.
The night before we had a cooking class where we learned how to make Locra de Papa. I've had it once before since being here... I liked it but the second time around was so much better! I added avocado and our homemade salsa, it was one of the best dinners I've had so far!

Earlier that day this was lunch- salad, chicken, potatoes, rice. :/
The day before, however, I was happily surprised with an Italian-inspired meal! Scrumptious garlic bread and al dente pasta with Ecuadorian cheese, mushrooms, and meat. Monday's lunch was also very enjoyable... and meat-less! I had a broccoli omelette and mixed bean salad. I was so hungry and ate my plate completely clean! This weekend we went to Ingapirca. It's an Ecuadorian Incan ruins site, I cannot even describe how absolutely incredible!
Out of the entire group I probably got the most excited about our stop before Ingapirca, an indigenous market a.k.a. South American farmer's market a.k.a. Danielle thought she died and went to heaven. Seriously. Isn't that produce absolutely beautiful?!

Friday night was my host-aunt's birthday. As usual dinner was pretty much non-existant and we just went to the grandmother's house for dessert. I didn't eat the cake but it was nice meeting the extended family... they are just as nice as my nuclear family. I'm so happy with everything and every one! Well, that's all for now folks! There'll be a few more lunch pics for the rest of the week and then my documentation of this weekend's camping trip. El Cajas here I come!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

settled in cuenca

Boy, have you missed a lot in the past few days :). After a quick plane ride and a seemingly long struggle with my bags I made it to CEDEI! My host family was waiting here with everyone else's. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful they are. I got so lucky! The food has been super good so far too... but I must admit that I haven't been able to stick with my vegetarian diet. It's just too much of an inconvenience for everyone! I'm not too happy about it but I would dislike causing problems more. I am simply going to stress plant foods as much as humanly possible, especially when I have control over my choices, like eating out. On Tuesday morning I had a toasted croissant with jam, coffee with hot milk, and an apple. It was light and yummy but didn't hold me until lunch time at all. I really have to get used to their eating schedule because it's so very different from what I'm used to. I had my Spanish speaking class from 8-10 and then returned home to lunch, the largest meal of the day is around 1 or 2. My first experience with it included juice, chicken broth soup, salad, chicken drumstick, rice, and potatoes. The biggest player of the meal was the juice. There are millions of fruits I have never heard of or tasted, and their nectars are very popular. It was good but very sweet and since I usually don't drink juice I only had a few sips. Out of everything I probably ate the largest amount of salad... there was avocado in it, my favorite! After that I ate most of the chicken, all of the soup and some rice and potatoes, although by that time I was pretty full. Then I went to the CEDEI office for a tour of the city. We were split up into groups of three and led to important points of interest for us around the city... the bank, post office, etc. and then were given a scavenger hunt to do. I had a really good time wandering :). When I finally walked home for dinner (around 7) I was eager to fuel all my walking exercise. However, as it turned out, my mom just offered me a small sandwich, or coffee, or even just cereal. Supposedly it's just not an important meal in my house or any other. I had fruit and a bowl of cereal. The rest of the night was spent bonding with my host-sisters. We had such a good time practicing my Spanish and my older sister's English. I feel like we're going to get really close in the next month, plus, the relationships will definitely benefit my fluidity in the language.
Wednesday was similar to the day before. Although the main lunch dish was a pasta and I had my class in the afternoon like it will be from now on. Oh and my gosh, how could I forget about my special dessert, Postre and Flan. I couldn't eat all of it but it was so good.
Thursday was fun because I went out to eat with my friends rather than return home for lunch. We ended up going to an eclectic restaurant, La Borrero. I ordered La Ensalada de Casa and un Sandwich Vegetariano. The salad was huge, as you see, and the sandwich as well but I didn't hesitate to devour it all. I love my veggies! There was avocado on the sandwich, after all :) and as my main meal I needed to fuel up!
We all went out for ice cream after too. I got a small cone with a scoop of some of the best Cafe (coffee) Helado I have ever had! Mmm... mmm... good day! And it ended well too because we all went out on the town. What fun, night life is so much more laid back here.

After breakfast the next morning my 15 y/o host sister, Christina, took me around the neighborhood to show me a few things. We were walking for about 3 hours. She's the sweetest thing and bought me a coconut ice, her favorite, for me to try along the way.

Once we got back it was time for lunch! We had hominy, rice & corn, chicken, salad, and another juice. Once again, I filled up on salad and tried to limit my meat intake.

That night Christina, Carlos (my 18 y/o host brother) and I went to his high school graduation party. He goes, or rather used to go, to an all-boys school and Christina and I were dates to friends of his. I had such a great time dancing and "speaking" Spanish ;) with everyone. And that's all folks! I think I'm going to try to post twice a week from now on. Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Hello from Quito, Ecuador! I was so excited to find that I have wireless internet in my room and now I finally have the time to post! Okay so... everything has been absolutely amazing so far. I mean, really, there is no other way to describe it. This is what I've been waking up to: See what I'm talking about? The views are breathtakingly beautiful! Food has been much less exciting since yesterdays meals were basically confined to a plane and today I've had to be careful as my stomach adjusts. On the bright side I made sure that my last American meal was worth it! I woke up famished way before the others so I made a Toasted Peanut Butter & Jelly. Classic and scrumptious! Great thing I ate too because breakfast plane food was anything but. Thankfully I had a delicious Cinnamon Roll Larabar to keep my hunger at bay. The meals following that one weren't too interesting.

As usual though, breakfast was always delicious, I mean, it is my favorite meal of the day! The past few mornings I've had tons of fresh fruit and a mix of granola & cereal with walnuts and strawberries in yogurt (yesterday) or milk (this morning). Yum! I didn't eat the eggs or toast in this picture. After a great start like that I've been crazy busy the past two days. The group and I have done a ton of sightseeing throughout the city.

Yesterday we went to a beautiful basilica and climbed up a combination of stairs and ladders to reach the top tower. Totally worth it though since we got to look over the entire city of Quito. During these excursions I've been packing Larabars, but at this point I'm all out. So sad! They served me well though and held me over last night before we went out to dinner at a restaurant across the street from the hotel, Hunter's. Unfortunately it specializes in BBQ so I was pretty much confined to fish. I ordered Steamed Sea Bass... it was pretty disappointing. Ah well, can't win 'em all the time! Following our outing I just came back and worked on a Spanish placement test with 5 of my new friends. It was actually pretty fun because we were all a tad bit delirious from being tired so everything was entertaining. Nonetheless I got to bed at a reasonable hour and slept wonderfully until 7:15 this morning. We went upstairs for breakfast again and then went to la midad del mundo a.k.a. the equator, the line dividing the northern and southern hemisphere. I had a good time walking around and looking in the shops and even got my passport stamped as proof that I was there!
  Plus lunch was amazing! It was only $3 for the meal of the day- an Empanada, Locra de Papa (potato soup) , and a special mix of "corn", salads, potatoes, and beans. The original dish was steak but the restaurant made an exception for me and boy was I glad. Everything tasted incredible! Now I'm back at the hotel, all packed up again and off to Cuenca. It's a 45 minute plane ride and I'm going to go straight to meet my host family. So exciting, wish me luck!)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

hasta luego

Hello my blogging friends :) just wanted to let you know my plans before I actually go... My flight arrives in Quito around 1 in the afternoon (Ecuadorian time). We then have a 2-day orientation in the city, where we'll be staying in a hotel, before we make our way over to Cuenca. At this point I'll meet my family and move in to the house I'll be living in for the next month. The following day my Spanish class begins. I'm not sure at which point I'll be able to post next but I promise to take lots of pictures and try to eat as healthfully and authentically as I can until then... you know, to keep you interested. "See" you soon!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

18 hours and counting

Woah. Any one else hear Blossom's brother? Haha, that was my favorite television show for quite a few years when I was younger! And he definitely said it the way I feel right now! I'm surprisingly not feeling much of anything... the calm before the storm? Not to say that I'm not ready or looking forward to tomorrow but I'd expected to be really nervous or really excited or really something? Hm, I'm waiting on it. Sorry for not posting yesterday, I was so busy! The smoothie didn't end up holding me as long as I'd hoped so around 3 I had another Veggie Hummus Wrap. I need to use up the hummus before I leave :) I'll probably have another one today. I ate an apple for dessert while enjoying the sunshine on my patio. I'm beyond glad that the weather cooled down, I love spending time outside! For dinner I went with my family to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Yep, a steak house. I obviously didn't choose it but my parents had a gift certificate and it was a really nice restaurant. I had a slice of bread and House Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette to start. That was probably the highlight of the meal because my entree, Chilean Sea Bass (coincidence? lol) was nothing to brag about. I asked it to be made without butter and maybe that's the flavor they usually depend on. I had a side of Broccoli to up my veggie-count. When I got home I had a small bowl of grapes and two Late July cookies to fulfill my sweets & chocolate craving for the night. By the way, I haven't been blogging about it but I've been doing great with my resolutions and waking up everyday, at least 4 times a week, to jog for the past 3 weeks. I didn't want to jinx it by telling you and then not being able to do it. But I did it :) hope I can keep it up when I'm away! So have I mentioned that I didn't sleep a wink last night? I simply could not relax and no herbal tea would do it for me. I actually spoke to a friend of mine from school (who lives in Oklahoma) for 2 hours at 3 in the morning (2 for OK) since she was waiting for her sister to get home. It's so weird saying goodbye on the phone, especially I've unfortunately gotten used to not seeing her because she spent the last semester in Florence, Italy. We already made plans for her to stay with me in December though, it's going to be amazing, she's thes best! I had a bowl of oatmeal afterwards since I was already hungry for breakfast. It was about 5 am at this point. I stayed up a few more hours until I suddenly fell asleep around 7 and woke up again at 11. I'm kind of bummed starting my day so late but I did need some shut-eye. I had another smoothie, this time with a lot more berries since I wanted to finish them up and no peanut butter because I had it with my oatmeal for breakfast. It the spot as usual! Now I need to run a few very last minute errands and help my mom prepare for the bbq tonight. Since I live so close to NYC I'm also much closer to Kennedy Airport than a lot of the students I'm flying to Ecuador with so I invited 2 extremely far ones, that I'm sure will be my friends soon, to spend the night. Not only would it have been far and long for their parents to drive back and forth but they would have to do so beginning at midnight since our flight takes of at 6:20 am. Good thing the girls are coming with me! It'll be nice to have some immediate company to get me excited, plus, my parents will be able to meet theirs and them over some food which will hopefully settly my mom and dad's nevers a bit. Alright well, I'm going to go live my last day in the US for a while, I hope everyone can make the most of this beautiful Friday!

Friday, June 13, 2008

farewell CVS

What a looonng night! It was oddly slow the entire time I was working which great in that I got to socialize with my co-workers more (don't tell my boss :) but not so great because time was moving slower than molasses! I made it out to tell the tale though so I'm going to say it was not to shabby for a final day working for CVS/Pharmacy. I began working there the spring of my junior year of high school and just have not been able to get away since. It's convenient because they like me so they were more than happy to hire me for a month and a week when I know I couldn't have possibly gotten a new job for such a short period of time but I hate feeling like I haven't made any progress. Mind you, it's a part-time job but still. Anyway, as of now that is, next summer I'll have a full time (hopefully paying) internship so I won't need to go crawling back. Yay for growing up in that sense! I literally took this picture as I was running out the door today on my way to work. My afternoon snack of an Apple and Kashi TLC Trail Mix Granola Bar unfortunately did not hold me over much at all. I wanted dinner asap! Luckily I packed something yummy! An Amy's Black Bean Burrito and a large salad that I threw together at home earlier. Oddly enough, I still found myself rather hungry a couple of minutes ago when I got home from work, so I had a snack of 2 of my Late July cookies (apparently they are vegan... according to the box) with 1/2 cup of blueberries. Even now, as we "speak" I'm snacking on a half of a corn on the cob. What is with me?! I really hope everything settles and I feel satisfied soon! I need to get a good night's rest because I have to finish packing tomorrow. Have a great night, see you in the AM!

dos dias

My gosh, I'm down to two days, 48 hours! It has been a wonderful morning. I've been leisurely getting ready and doing things around the house and waiting to get hungry. It took so long this morning! I woke up around 10 (yay for sleeping in) and didn't want "breakfast" until noon. I have a feeling this may be a joint breakfast and lunch because it certainly is satiating enough. Well, I don't know if you recall but today is the day, the perfect day for a smoothie! (Please don't mind that the pictures are sideways... it won't allow me to turn them) I blended 3/4 cup of Hemp Milk, 3/4 a Banana, about a cup and a half of Blueberries and Raspberries together, 2 tbsp of Flax Seed, and a tbsp of Peanut Butter. Divine! Absolutely delicious and satiating! I cannot rave enough about my spin on VeggieGirl's 2 favorite smoothie. What an ideal summer breakfast... sadly enough I won't be able to have fresh fruit while I'm in South America. I've been advised "to avoid raw fruits and vegetables including salads especially when traveling to areas where hygiene and sanitation conditions are poor." Only when they are cooked or able to be peeled will I be able to enjoy the best two food groups of all. It really is so sad. This will probably be one of the hardest things I'm going to have to do, maybe even harder than learning the language ;). Will I do it? Alright, enough procrastinating, I need to finish packing! Have a wonderful Thursday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


And the countdown continues :). The combination of the continued scorching heat and inspiration from breakfast posts on other blogs all I wanted was a Yogurt Parfait this morning. Well, everyone can't always get what they want apparently because I opened the fridge to find all the berries gone! Poor me. Haha, not at all, I was just a bit disappointed. But when I actually thought more about it, it may be a blessing in disguise. I want to try to limit my dairy intake because I think that is what may have been upsetting my stomach and I haven't picked up Soy Yogurt yet. Hopefully I'll be able to pick everything for tomorrow :). As an alternative I toasted Rudi's 14-Grain Bread, spread about 1 tbsp of Peanut Butter on it, added a pat of Elderberry Jam, sprinkled a tbsp of flax, and stuffed the Morning Sammy with 1/2 a Banana and an Apple. Great new combo! I have a pretty relaxed day again today... I may go into work later and then all I have to do is finish cleaning my room. It's not that I couldn't do it last night but I think mentally getting my room back in order makes me think "the end" as if once I'm done I really have to leave it and everyone behind. I'm excited, I totally want to go, but as the day creeps closer I'm getting more sentimental. My mom has been reminding me that she's not going to kick me out early if my room's clean but she's been considering it lately while it's still in it's messy state ;). By the way, my sister has a half-day at school today because of the heat. If you're in the area and are going to be outside remember the importance of staying hydrated and cool! Enjoy your Tuesday everyone!

Monday, June 9, 2008


A mere 5 days to Ecuador this morning. Two of the girls I'm going with already made plans to sleep over my house the night before the flight because I'm so much closer to the airport. I have all my Ecuadorian host family information. I'm on my way to being completely packed. I've made all my necessary changes at the bank and at&t.. I can count all the days on one hand! I slept reasonably last night but I think my nervous-excitedness is keeping me up... not to mention quite possibly making me sick. I hope I'm ready to wake up and see this out my window I can't even quite wrap my head around the concept! In the mean time I'm trying to research Ecuadorian and Chilean cuisine as much as possible to ensure that I can eat healthfully. This morning I had a bowl of PB Banana Flax Oatmeal. I'm hoping that it'll settle my stomach and hold me for a while since I'll be working at CVS Pharmacy all day. Have a wonderful Monday and stay cool please!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

an indian feast

In both Ecuador and Chile lunch is the largest meal of the day so I figured I'd follow suit with adjusting to the South American eating habits. I decided to try an Indian favorite among other bloggers and I don't know why I haven't tried this earlier! I made Happy Herbivore's Red Lentil Dal today and what a wonderful idea that was. I adore Indian food and this definitely did not dissapoint. Not to mention that I have become a life-long devotee of Garam Masala and am so glad I could only find a big bag of this "magical" spice. I had brown rice and brocolli to round out my large lunch. I really don't even know what to say other than try this recipe now if there is any inking that you like, could like, will like Indian food! I had a peach for dessert and now I'm going to spend the afternoon with a few friends of mine. Hope you're enjoying your day! :)