Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hormigas En Un Palo

Today in Children's Nutrition we broke out the celery, peanut butter, and raisins for some hands on learning with a healthy snack, Hormigas en un Palo (Ant on a Log). Profe Claudia began the class by talking to the students about why it is important to understand where your food comes from, and how preparing food helps give insight into what you are eating. Then came snack time, the kids lined up to assemble their own 'Ants on a Log' and then chowed down. It was definitely a new snack for many of them and it seemed to be a success! 

Hormigas En Un Palo 
Claudia and Cate showing the students how it is done! 

Snack time! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fiesta en la Biblioteca!

After a long winter break, we, the PDs of MPI Ecuador decided the kids of Rumiloma needed reminding of just how fun and awesome the library can be, so we decided to throw a party.  With a turn out of about 35 kids the party was a huge success, complete with a water balloon toss, musical chairs, a turtle making art craft and enough popcorn and cookies to fill a cruise ship.
It's not a party if someone isn't reading!

Profe Cate with some fiesta going niños

Mateo and Jonathan about to lay down the law with some water balloons.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Going for the Glacier

Cotopaxi sits at 5,897 m (19,347 ft) and is the second highest peak in Ecuador. Lucky for us, this beautiful mountain is practically in our backyard (only about an hour away by car), and can be seen from most places in the Chillos Valley, including my bedroom window. 

Yesterday a group of 10 us piled into two cars and took the drive to Cotopaxi National park to hike to the glacier line. The park is an amazing place, with wild horses, lakes, flat expansive plains, amazing views of 15,000 ft + peaks, and, of course, Cotopaxi. A road runs almost all the way to the Refugio, a small building used as a base for the more serious climbers making their way all the way to the top. We had to climb for about 40 minutes from the parking lot to reach the Refugio, which was jam packed with people of all nationalities and many different levels of mountaineering experience. Groups squeezed through the tiny hole of a door with large packs, and warm snowsuits, ready to make the trek to the top come midnight, while families with small children in simple fleece jackets sat around sipping hot chocolate. (There was even a glimpse of some high heeled boots being worn!) We enjoyed some hot chocolate ourselves, while letting our brains adjust to the thin air, and then headed back out the door to complete our hike to the glacier line. The rest of the hike took about 30 minutes. When we finally reached the glacier line we celebrated by taking a "few" snapshots and exploring a large crack in the ice. Although it was hard to see at the top, the shifting clouds gave way to different views of the peak and the valley below. It was an entrancing experience and definitely made me want to keep going, all the way to the top.

The steep incline at the beginning 

Taking a break with some coco 

The Refugio 

Finally at the glacier line 
Cate and Ben exploring the ice

The hike back down was easy as we kind of glided down the gravely trail. Once back in the car we rewarded ourselves with chocolate and headed back down the road, stopping to look at a little fox who was curiously staring at the passing cars. At the bottom the clouds finally parted and we were able to see Cotopaxi in all its glory. Another photo shoot took place until the clouds consumed the mountain once again. All in all, an amazing day with one of Ecuador's finest. 
Claudia and me enjoying the view

Our fox friend 

Carryn, Torie, Heather, and Taylor at the bottom 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Meet Our New PDs!

At the end of last quarter we said goodbye to our 5 month PD, Kirk, and sent him on his way back to the states. It was a sad occasion but we are excited to be welcoming two new PDs, Carryn Mills and Torie Barnard, to the Ecuador crew! Here's what they had to say about themselves and what they hope to experience during their time here in Ecuador. 

Torie Barnard

I’m coming to Ecuador from the amazing Pacific Northwest!  I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and completed my B.S. in Human Physiology at the University of Oregon in 2008.  I love running, cooking, baking, spending time with my much loved friends & family, and doing anything in the outdoors.  I’m very excited for the opportunity to be a part of the MPI Ecuador team!  I have a great passion for health & wellness education and I can’t wait to begin living and working in Ecuador.  I have much to learn from my new community and from my team as well, I am truly excited for the adventures that are ahead!

Carryn Mills 

Arriving in Ecuador during the rainy season was a welcome change for this Southern California native. I have always loved exploring new places and learning about other cultures so I am very excited to be here in Ecuador. I graduated from Hamilton College in 2011 with a double major in Comparative Literature and Studio Art. I enjoy working with and learning from other people. I particularly enjoy learning other languages because I am fascinated by how we communicate. I look forward to teaching English and Children’s Art classes where I will get to explore my interest art and literature. I am passionate about the well being of others and I cannot wait to discover all that this amazing country has to offer!

Friday, January 10, 2014


We have all returned after a wonderful 3 week break, during which some of us traveled and others went home to visit their families. Here is a small recap of some of our adventures!

Heather, Cate and Claudia:

We spent three weeks traveling together through Argentina and Chile. We began the trip in Buenos Aries, visiting museums, eating delicious foods and attending a drum circle concert-- a highlight of the trip. From there we flew to beautiful Bariloche, located in northern Patagonia, where we spent a few days enjoying the lakes and mountains, including an overnight trek to Refugio Frey, a well known rock climbing destination. We then took a bus to Chiloe, an island located of the coast of southern Chile. There we celebrated Christmas and wandered around sleepy coastal towns drinking coffee. Next we took a 14 hour ride to Santiago and then on to Valparaiso, where we witnessed the new World Record for fireworks on New Year's Eve. Last we popped over to Mendoza, Argentina's wine country, and enjoyed great wine, olive oil, scenery, and company-- biking through the vineyards and horseback riding through the foothills of Mendoza. 


I travelled to the chilean desert alongside Greg, and then went to Santiago and Valparaiso for a couple of days. After going full moon sand-boarding, floating in the salt lakes, participating in holiday dance parties, and seeing the second largest geyser park in the world- it was an eventful trip. I then went home for two weeks to spend the rest of the vacation with my family and friends- it was nice having some time off, and it got me excited to come back for another try at Ecuador!


I spent this Christmas break with 14 family members (no joke).  I was lucky enough to have this many visitors from the US come and see Quito, Sangolquí and our community center in Rumiloma.  We then all set off for the Galapagos, spending the first few days on Isabela Island and then taking a 15-person cruise around the other islands (meaning, yes, we were on the boat the entire time).  I spent the majority of Christmas staring at sea lions, giant turtles, whales, sharks, penguins and, of course, blue footed boobies. I then was off to the Amazon at Yasuní National Park for the last four days, which was incredibly interesting especially after all we have learned about the Yasuní through the news, Quito protests, and Manna development discussions.  To get back home, I had to take a canoe to a motor boat to a bus to a plane to a taxi, but I am thrilled to be back to work in Sangolquí.


I started my break with a  short and relaxing trip to Canoa, during which I learned how to surf! I then flew home to Pennsylvania to spend Christmas with my family and visit friends in New York City and celebrate New Year's in the Big Apple. It was really great to see my family because it had been a long time since all of us had been together for the holidays. 

Heather Kryzak:

I spent two weeks in the States, visiting my sister and my friends in Baltimore/DC and the rest of my family in Maine. I had a white Christmas, and got to go skiing for the first time in 3 years. I came back to Ecuador for New Years, since there are a lot of cool traditions here. I spent New Years with Joshua and his family, we got stopped by Ecuadorian men dressed like women "viudas" and burned an año viejo at midnight


I went on a three country trek spanning 24 days.  Starting in the northern Chilean desert of San Pedro de Atacama, I worked my way down the 4,000 mile coast line to Patagonian city of Punta Arenas.  Entering Argentina in the world's most southern city, Ushuaia, I continued up through Argentinian Patagonia to end my journey in Buenos Aires and Uruguay's Montivideo.


Over the break my parents came to Ecuador and we hung out, went to Otavalo, Cotocachi, kicked it in Quito. They came to the centro to see where I worked. We rented an apartment en La Ronda just below the Panecillo which was cool.  Then we went to Peru and hung out in Cuzco, ate Alpaca and my dad and I climbed Macchu Picchu.  

We all had a great time on our individual adventures but were excited to return to the library last Tuesday. We hit the ground running, as quarter two inscriptions began on the same day we all got back and continued throughout the week. It was very hectic in the library with nearly all of our classes full by the third day, and wait lists filling up quickly as well. We are excited to be offering a new level of Adult English, as the demand for English classes continues to grow each quarter. This is only possible because of our two new PD's, Carryn and Torie! More to come on them in the next post. 

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday break and a happy new year!