Tagged: volunteer

A front row seat to Hannah’s “reverse culture shock show”

Surprise! (or not surprise). I’m coming back to the states for the holidays. I’m coming back to cuddle my little sister, drive on the right side of the road and visit meijer at 1 am. I’m coming to buy a new pair of nikes, drink slushies and make snow angels. I’ve got my little list of to dos and most of them are financially cheap and include touching the people I love.

I’m writing (for the first time in a long time I know, I know) to talk about what it feels like to come home. I’m grateful that I was able to come home about a year and a half ago to celebrate my baby bro and his super cool wife on their wedding day (I was the best woman, cool right?). During that visit, I experienced a phenomenon that I’ve heard other volunteers describe. The phenomenon that when we come home, sometimes it’s hard for people to know… what to… do with us I guess. How to ask us questions, what to ask, how to talk about issues, how to ask if the thousands of dollars of fireworks affect our hearts after our experiences in Zambia, how to interact with us, how to talk with us about Trump, how to bring up family events that happened while we are away, just what to do with us in general. Our presence might make some uncomfortable, understandably. We’re going through some big life changes and we make ourselves uncomfortable sometimes too. Perhaps a more evident and uncomfortable feeling many of us experience, is the feeling that we have when we want to share about our new lives but are nervous, don’t know how or don’t feel like the interest of hearing about it is there. So here are a few of my pointers on how to make my trip back home a little more comfortable for me (and hopefully for you!) and how to make me feel even more love during my trip home.


  • Tell me that you don’t know what to ask (and I will figure something out)
  • Ask me about the kids that I love



  • Ask me about the differences between my life in the village and in the big city (where I now live)
  • Ask me about what it’s like to miss out big events like weddings, funerals and sports games
  • Hug me
  • Ask me about my Zambian friends, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, mentors, supervisors, grandma’s and grandpa’s and how they’ve facilitated my growth, comforted me and gave Zambia meaning to me.
  • Ask me about my volunteer family
  • Ask me about my new job as the Peace Corps Volunteer Leader
  • Ask me about Zambian hospitality
  • Ask me about my Zambian family
  • Ask me about my pupils
  • Touch my face
  • Ask me what it’s like living abroad with Trump as president
  • Ask me what it was like living abroad with Obama as president
  • Ask me to see some pictures
  • Ask me to watch some videos


    Our crew

  • Ask me to teach you some Bemba (the local language I used and one of the 72 Zambian languages)
  • Ask me about any strange phrase I’m using (it might be a new habit. Would love to explain how English is often used differently
  • Ask me about my pets
  • Ask me about my house
  • Tell me you don’t understand something that I’m saying
  • Ask me about Oscar
  • Ask me how many Mangos I’ve eaten (but don’t expect a real answer)
  • Kiss my cheeks
  • Ask my about my crew(s)
  • Ask me about my daily lifeWhatsApp Image 2017-11-20 at 10.06.40
  • Ask me about the difference between my daily life in the village and my daily life in the city (things like cooking, bathing, using the bathroom, etc.)
  • Ask me how my body is adjusting to the Michigan cold (and I will answer how it is not)
  • Ask me about swimming in the lake with my babies
  • Ask me about my newly found love for African music and dancing to it
  • Ask me to dance for you (play a little music and I would love to)
  • Talk about your experiences in travel as your personal experiences separate and different than mine

Please try not to: 

  • Ask me “how is Africa?”
  • Ask me about seeing lions, tigers and elephants in my backyard
  • Ask me a question if you aren’t interested in hearing my answer
  • Ignore the fact that I’ve been away for the past two plus years
  • Compare my experience to your trip abroad (or to anything really, and I promise to try not to compare mine to yours either)

I’m going to be vulnerable and explain that my life here is well… my life here. That to me means that I hold my experiences here deep, deep inside my heart. They are difficult to explain and sharing opens up that space for either validation in them or disappointment if I’m sharing with someone who seemingly doesn’t care. That sharing my life here feels risky sometimes because of that. So I am asking for your patience and grace while I learn how to share my life here and yet still protect it deep inside my heart, which feels like the safest and most appropriate place for it sometimes. Because it is so difficult to explain the value that I’ve found in my experiences here. I think that all of this is okay and I hope my loved ones and I are open to the journey of growing together in sharing our experiences.

I hope that me sharing these feelings hasn’t intimidated you into interacting or not with me during my visit home. I hope you will still feel open to me and share your love with me as you know I want to share my love with you. Even with the dos and don’ts that I’ve shared, I can feel y’alls hearts and will always follow that instinct. The instinct that tells me that your love will be enough for me. I hope that we can all be brave enough to be vulnerable in sharing our lives no matter how deep they might be being held at the moment. Thank you for your patience and grace as I step into my new unknown that I still call a home. See y’all on December 8th. Enjoy the front row seat to my reverse culture shock show…

Much love always.



Typical emotional Han and her next chapter

It would be foolish of me to pretend that I am ALL excitement, happiness and pure joy for every new chapter that I start. Truth is, yeah! I get nervous. Goodbyes are hard no matter how many times I convince myself that it is just a “see you later” and the unknown can be intimidating. That being said, peace trumps all other emotions when I know I’m making the right decision and right now, my peaceful emotions are BA and are dominating all others. alhumdulilah thank God.

My next chapter? It’s a big one folks (to me that is). I might even have to call it a brand new novel. A sequel to the book series I call my life. The news is… I joined the Peace Corps! In less than 2 months (June 8) I will leave for two years to volunteer in Zambia with the RED program (Rural Education Development). I’ll be teaching English. Those are the knowns as of now. There are plenty (and I mean plenty) of unknowns. I have been doing as much as I can to prepare myself (online research *mostly youtube videos that is*, meeting with RPCVs (returned Peace Corps volunteers), dating my people A LOT, etc.)


Here are some questions that people have asked:

Q) Why? 

  • A) Ecuador unleashed a wanderlust that I cannot contain. I am excited about the unknowns of any trip that I take. About the people that I will meet, what they will teach me about life, myself, the universe, culture, nature, etc. “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” I have found that to be so true. And there are people out there that know so much that I have no idea about. Topics I don’t even know exist. Holla to my peeps who understand that excitement! I’m thankful that Peace Corps is introducing me to my new community and can only imagine what I will learn from these new people. It’s like my next test in this journey called life. It feels so right.

Q) So you can’t find work in the United States? 

  • A) Maybe! But again with the peace that I felt in my heart after making this decision, I can’t help but follow it. Wouldn’t I be foolish to ignore that feeling? Or am I foolish for not following the traditional “get college degree, get married, buy house, settle down, have kids…. etc.” narrative that we are told? I guess we’ll find out after a few years *wink wink*

Q) How are you gonna handle the conditions you’ll be living in? 

  • A) Another unknown of the whole thing.. I’m not sure what exactly the conditions will be in my village. But likely (95% likely), I will have no running water or electricity. And yes, this will be a huge test for me! Even bigger than that one stats exam back in the day. A life test. How adaptable have I become and can I become through this? How savvy (as my Dad says) have I grown to be? Stay tuned… Anyway, yes. Like I said. I am nervous. But I can feel how right this is because even these challenges that I know I will face, feel peaceful.

Q) What are your biggest fears?

  • I’m worried that a lack of presence will make it easy for people to forget about me. (I know sad but a real fear).  I fear that I will miss my people so much that it will hurt everyday. I’m nervous that I’m not as strong as I think that I am and that I will fail (isn’t it like that with all dream chasers though?) I’m afraid that I’ll get painfully sick (yeah, diarrhea is inevitable I know) and will miss the comfort of home. I’m worried that a student will ask me a question and I won’t have the answer. I’m afraid of loneliness, mosquito bites, insomnia, macaroni and cheese cravings, internet withdrawal, that people won’t accept me, that I’m not healthy/strong/smart/brave/communicative/adaptable enough,… Yeah, I have a lot of narcissistic fears. They’re a real part of this process and I’m choosing to recognize them (even in the public eye of my blog hehe)

What questions do y’all have for me? 

I’m thankful right now to my people for being extra sensitive with me. I’m emotional! (even more than normal… I know you didn’t think that was possible.) I feel like is a big step and I’m appreciative for everyone who has my back throughout it all. Much love ❤

Check out this link for my timeline of Peace Corps journey. Oooo la la 😉

Home is where the heart is


As the knowledgeable guru Lady Gaga once said, “Be my home, just for the day. I’m a Gypsy,Gypsy,Gypsy, hey” (Love you Bobby). And as the story from the powerful group the Temptations goes, “Papa was a rolling stone, (my son) Where ever he laid his hat was his home.” (Papa was a pretty cool guy it seems, also a douche but hey..) and finally, my girl Estelle told me “You don’t know where I’m going, and so you think I’m lost. When I dance, I dance to the beat of a drummer that you can’t hear and can’t see. So if I look offbeat to you, well the problem must be you, not me.”  These are some songs on my mind as I transition into my new little chapter in life.

Como dice la profesora inteligente, Lady Gaga, “Es mi casa por solo un día. Soy una gitana gitana gitana hey.” (Te quiero Bobby). Y como en la historia del grupo poderoso The Temptations, “Papa era un ‘rolling stone’ (mijo) Dondequiera se pone su sombrero era su casa” (Papa era un senor muy chevere, también gacho pero hey…) y finalmente mi amiga Estelle me dijo “Tu no sabes a donde voy, por eso piensas que estoy perdida. Cuando bailo, bailo a un ritmo de un baterista que no puedes oír o ver por eso parezco sin ritmo a ti, el problema es tuyo no es mio.” Estas son buenas canciones muy relevante en mi mente ahora moviendo en mi nueva escalera.


Surprise party. My friends are so special ❤

Aventure – A new little adventure leaves me technically without my own place to lay my head (for a month before I travel) but the Universe has my back! I’ve been blessed with family and friends who’s casa es mi casa (homes are my home). Alhumduallah! This means that I’m going to be couch surfing for a little while while I work on campus at the marketing department until October. Yay adventures! and yay for more time with people that I love!

Aventura – Una aventura nueva me deja sin un lugar técnicamente donde duermo (por una mes antes de viajar) pero el Universo siempre me cuida! He estado muy bendita con familia y amigos quien dice “tu casa es mi casa” Gracias a dios! Eso significa que voy a “couch surf” por un ratito durante mi tiempo trabajando en el departamento marketing en campus. Yay aventuras! Y yay por pasar mas tiempo con la gente que le quiero! ❤


Casa – My home in Midtown, Detroit was definitely a safe haven for me (and hopefully every guest that I had). The walls were plastered with memories in photos, posters, notes from friends, birthday cards, etc. It’s here that I learned about what it’s like to have a home and more importantly share it with others. I learned about the importance of creating a space for everyone; an open, caring, welcoming space that people feel is their own as well. I’m thankful that others have showed me this kind of home in the past and love that I was able to have my own mini version here in Detroit. I cherish every moment of the journey and thank everyone for sharing this home with me ❤ . The couches in this picture has seen a lot of love and that’s brings a smile to my face. I have so many wonderful memories in my Detroit home and will hold them in my heart forever. Gratitude!

Home – Mi casa en Midtown, Detroit era un lugar importante para mi (y todos los visitantes que tenia). Las paredes estaban cubiertas con memorias en fotos, pósteres, notas de amigos, cartas de cumpleaños, etc. Aquí, aprendí de la importancia de tener una casa y mas como compartirla con la gente. Aprendi como es crear un espacio por todos; un espacio abierto, cariñoso con amor donde la gente siente que es suyo también. Estoy agradecida que otras me hayan mostrado un hogar así en el pasado y me encanta que haya tenido la oportunidad de tener mi propia version de eso acá en Detroit. Aprecio todos los momentos del viaje y doy la gracias a todas las personas que han compartido esta casa conmigo. Que chevere que los sofas en esta foto hayan visto mucho amor. Tengo muchas memorias fantásticas en mi hogar de Midtown y siempre van a quedar en mi corazón. Gracias!


My friend (nunbun in his language Tamil) sent me this picture of all of the things that were given to him from my place ❤ Mi amigo (nunbun en su idioma) me mandó esta foto de todas las cosas que di

Cosas – Also, since I won’t have my own place for the next three years, I’m totally downsizing all of my things. I’m giving away all of my furniture, kitchen supplies, electronics, etc. It’s quite freeing and I’m realizing that it’s totally necessary to successfully live a gypsy life. Also, I think the Universe provided me with what I needed and if I put these things back out there, it will provide me with what I need again in the future. Also, at the end of the day, they are JUST THINGS! How freeing it is to rid yourself of everything that holds you down in one place (yes though, it was hard)

Things – También, porque no voy a tener mi propio espacio por tres anos, reduciré todas mis cositas. Voy a dar todo de mis muebles, cosas de la cocina, electrónicos, y todo! Me siento muy libre y me doy cuenta que eso es totalmente necesario si quiero vivir una vida gitana. También, ya se que el Universo me dio las cosas necesarias en mi vida y se que el me cuidará y me dará las cosas necesarias otra vez en el futuro si los doy a otra gente ahora. También, por fin SOLO SON COSAS! Es un sentimiento de mucha libertad dar todas las cosas que nos dejan en un lugar (aunque si muy difícil)

IMG_7122Gente – I’m thankful for the people who already offered to take me in ❤ Look at this map that was hung in my home for people to sign and show where their roots are. It’s amazing how everyone comes from different places, backgrounds, cultures, sizes, colors (I could go on) and meet in the same place. The journey is beautiful! And the people that we meet is what it’s all about. I can only thank God for introducing me to these amazing people who will be watching out for me in this next chapter.

People – Estoy agradecida por la gente con que ya me dijo que puedo quedarme. Mira a esta mapa que estaba en mi hogar para que la gente firme para mostrar de donde son. Es chevere que todos vengan de lugares, culturas, idiomas, colores, tamaños, religiones, (puedo seguir) diferentes y conocer un lugar juntitos. El viaje es muy lindo! Y la gente que conocemos es la cosa mas importante! Gracias a Dios por introduciéndome a esta gente linda que van a cuidarme durante este capitulo nuevo.

Here are just some of the people who have my heart (and therefore are my home) ❤ They’ve been kind enough to offer their place to me! Aqui estan algunos de la gente que tiene mi corazón (y por eso son mi hogar) ❤ Ellos me han ofrecido sus casas a mi.

I know this post has a lot of words but there is so much that I want to say. I feel like a little baby every time I say it, but it’s real. The thought of leaving this home hurts! There are a lot of  internal battles that I’m trying to work through (like trying to accept this awesome help that people are extending me!) Thanks to everyone for listening and encouraging me and loving me. I’m not sure where I would be without my community. As always, MUCH LOVE!

Ya se que eso tenia muchas palabras pero hay muchas cosas que decir. Me siento como una bebe cuando lo digo pero es verdad. No me gusta pensar en irme de esta hogar. Muchas batallas en mi corazón que estoy tratando de superar (como aceptando esta ayuda de la gente fantástica en mi vida me da!) Gracias a todos por escucharme y animarme y quererme. No estoy segura donde estaré sin mi comunidad. Como siempre, MUCHO AMOR!


Gracias, Ecuador

Gracias, Ecuador…

– por familia (for family) 


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– por enseñarme la valor de la pacha mama (madre tierra), (for teaching me the value of mother earth)




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– por amigos nuevos (for new friends)




– por ellos (for them)


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– por mis hermanitas loquismas (for my crazy sisters)




Foto del día 27-07-13 a la(s) 9.10 #2

– por cultura y historia

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No queria escribir eso porque no queria pensar en el hecho que mi tiempo en Ecuador ya acabó. Me siento una mezcla de millones de emociones indescriptible. Primero, estoy muy agracida por esta expericiencia. Pienso que nunca sere la misma persona despues de todo que aprendi durante este viaje. Si, quiero regresar (ahora mismo de hecho) pero en el otro lado, estoy emocionada para ver que puedo anadir a mi propia hogar despues de aprender todas de estas lecciones. Que bueno que pueda cambiar mi vida aca a causa de la cultura buenisma alla en Ecuador. Gracias, Ecuador por todo todo todo. Ya sabes que voy a regresar pronto. Como puedo olvidar?? Mucho amor a todos. Gracias por seguir mi aventura y por tu apoya. Es muy valioso a mi.  ❤

I didn’t want to write this because I didn’t want to think about the fact that my time in Ecuador has already ended. I feel a mix of a million emotions that are indescribable. First, I feel so thankful for this experience. I think that I will never be the same person after everything that I learned on this trip. Yes, I want to return (right now actually) but on the other hand, I am excited to see what I can add to my own environment after learning all of these lessons. What a beautiful thing that I can change my own life/ culture here because of the wonderful lessons that learned there in Ecuador. Thank you, Ecuador for everything. You already know that I will be returning soon. How could I forget? ❤ Much love to all. Thank you for following my journey and for supporting me. It means more than you know.

Una mochila – A backpack

Backpacking is well… a good way of seeing lots of places in little time. It’s also an opportunity to learn about how to maintain energy, how to get away without washing your hair, how to make due with what is available and of course to learn about yourself. My experience was valuable but I must admit, connecting to a a community and building lasting relationships is very difficult while moving around so much. Therefore, I was excited to return to my Quito family! Pardon the novel of photos.

Viajando con una mochila es pues… una manera buena de ver muchos lugares con poco tiempo. También es una buena oportunidad aprender como mantener energía  como vivir sin lavar el pelo, como puedes vivir con las cosas que tienes y claro aprender sobre tu mismo. Mi experiencia era muy valiosa pero necesito decir, conectando a una comunidad y desarrollando amistades es difícil cuando estas mudando mucho. Entonces, estaba emocionada regresar a mi familia Quiteña. 

Sunday, July 14th – arrived in Cuenca at 7:00 am after 9 hour bus ride, walked around, met up with my Couchsurfing host, Joy (now my new hermanita!), ate lunch with the family and went to a birthday party. Felt very blessed by the welcoming nature of the new people that I met here. Cuenca turned out to be my second Ecuador home.

Domingo, el 14 de Julio – llegue en Cuenca a las 700 después de 9 horas en autobús  camine un poco y conocí mi host de couchsurfing, Joy (ahora mi Ñaña), almorcé con mi familia y fui a una fiesta de cumpleaños. Sentía muy bendita de la actitud y hospitalidad de la gente en Cuenca. Cuenca ahora es mi segunda hogar en Ecuador. 



Monday, July 15 – Visited Ingapirca, a ruin site close to Cuenca. It was very impressive.

Lunes, 15 de Julio – Visite Ingapirca, una sitio de ruines cerca de Cuenca. Era impresionante.


Tuesday, July 16 – Explored Cuenca with Joy, cooked the only meal that I know how to, Goolash, a very unhealthy and unecuadorian (sp?) meal that my family actually enjoyed! During the night, my family took me to a local viewing spot and we took way to many pictures. I already didn’t want to leave Cuenca!

Martes, 16 de Julio – Exploré Cuenca con Joy, cociné la unica comida que puedo, Goolash, una cena no saludable y inecuatoriana, pero mi familia le encanto actualmente! Durante la noche, mi familia me llevó a una vista y tomamos bastante fotos. No quería salir de Cuenca! 









Wednesday, July 17 – Visited Vilcabamba, a city close to Cuenca known for it’s tourists, fresh, healthy and relaxed lifestyle. Due to my stupidity and travelling beginnerness, I spent about 8 hours in bus for a 1 hour visit in the city. But hey, it’s all about the journey.

Miércoles, 17 de Julio – Visité Vilcabamba, una ciudad cerca de Cuenca conocida para sus turistas y vida saludable, relajada y fresca. A causa de mi falta de experiencia en viajes yo pasé 8 horas en bus para visitar la ciudad por 1 hora. Jajaj pues la cosa importante es la aventura. 



Thursday, July 18 – To make a long story short, I couldn’t say goodbye to my Cuencan family so I stayed longer!

Jueves, 18 de Julio – Una historia larga pero no podía despedir de mi familia Cuencana por eso, me quedé mas tiempo! 


Friday, July 19 – Walked around the beautiful city some more and at night went to a few different bars and danced until my feet couldn’t anymore.

Viernes, 19 de Julio – Caminaba mucho en la ciudad bonita y durante la noche fui a algunas bares para bailar. 


Saturday, July 20 – Relaxed morning with the family followed by a very exciting night. Went to a legit rave and danced (A LOT!) and then because that wasn’t enough dancing we went to a “hippie” bar to dance some more. I met some fun strangers (I love talking to strangers, sorry mom!) and truly enjoyed myself. My feet hurt the next day (of course).

Sabado, 20 de Julio – Una mañana relajante con la familia y una noche emocionate  Fui a una rave y bailaba MUCHO y después fuimos a un “hippie bar” para bailar MAS! Conoci algunas personas desconocidas (lo siento, mama!) y disfrutaba mucho. 



Sunday, July 21 – Finally was able to say goodbye. Left Cuenca for Guayaquil (a four hour bus drive). I arrived in Guayaquil around 7 p.m., used an internet cafe to find a hostel and took a taxi. Upon arrival, I couldn’t find the hostel (yay!) so to make a long story short, I found a hotel that gave me a $25 room for $10 (be sure to ask me how this happened in person, the story is a little loco!). I ate dinner and walked around a little because there was some sort of festival. Slept good with air conditioning and everything. Oh yeah, I wasn’t robbed despite everyone’s comments about the danger in this city. Score!

Domingo, 21 de Julio – Finalmente despide mi familia. Me fui de Cuenca para Guayaquil (4 horas). LLegue en Guayaquil a las 7 por la noche, encontre un hostal y cogí un Taxi. Pero luego no podia encontrar el hostal! Una historia larga, encontreé un hotel para $10 dolares (orginalmente $25). Cené y caminé un poco porque habia una festival. Dormí bien con aire y todo. Oh y nadie me robó a pesar de lo que la gente me dijo sobre la violencia en esta ciudad. WOOT!

Monday, July 22 – Walked around Guayaquil during the day. Left for Puerto Lopez during the night.

Lunes, 22 de Juilio – Caminaba en Guayaquil durante el dia. Me fui para Puerto Lopez durante la noche.





Tuesday, July 23 – Spent the day watching whales, visiting la Isla de la Plata (Galapagos por las pobres) and snorkeling. I felt appreciative for nature (la pacha mama).

Martes, 23 de Julio – Pasé el dia mirando las ballenas, visitando la Isla de la Plata, y snorkeling. Sentí muy agradecida para la naturaleza (gracias a la Pacha Mama). 🙂





Wednesday, July 24 – Visited a beach close to Puerto Lopez and went on a tour of a local forest. Saw MONKEYS!! Arrived in Montanita for a night there. It’s one ginormous party with mostly only gringos (honestly what I don’t want).

Miercoles, 24 de Julio – Visiteé una playa cerca de Puerto Lopez y fui en un tour de un bosque. Miré Monos! Llegue en Montanita para una noche alla. Es una fiesta grandota con muchos gringos (honestamente lo que no quiero en mis viajes).




No habia mas botas! There weren’t anymore boots.


Oh yeah, I hitchhiked! And it worked… and I loved it. Tambien fui a hitchhiking! Y lo való y me encantó.

Thursday, July 25 – Walked around Montanita and left for Puerto Lopez to take a bus back home.

Jueves, 25 de Julio – Caminé en Montanita y me fui para Puerto Lopez para coger un bus a mi hogar.



Friday, July 26 – Arrived in Quito at 6:00 am and reunited with my Quito family 🙂

Viernes, 26 de Julio – Llegue en Quito a las 600 y reuni con mi familia Quiteña.

Some stories that you should ask me about in person:

– Sitting in the front / driving bus

– Hippie straight from the movies

– How I got a $25 hotel room for $10

– Buying crabs in a bus

Algunas historias que debes preguntarme cara a cara: 

– la historia del conductor del bus y yo manejando un poco 

– Un “hippie” 

– Como tenia una habitación de $25 por $10 

– Comprando congrejos en un bus 

Some lessons that I learned:

– Welcoming someone into your home is more valuable than you think

– Giving without expectations of return is the only good way to give

– There are people in life that you just click with and these people shouldn’t be taken for granted

Algunas lecciones que aprendi: 

– La hospitalidad es mas valiosa que piensas

– Dando sin exceptivas es la única manera de dar

– Hay gente en esta vida que te cae muy bien y debes reconocer eso 

Please pardon my errors! I am heading out to the rainforest but wanted to let you know how my two week adventure went. Thanks for the support and talk to you all soon! Much love 🙂 ❤

Por favor perdon mis errores! Ya me voy a la Selva para quería decirles a uds como fue mi aventura. Gracias por la apoya y nos hablamos pronto. Mucho amor!

Chao Chao for now

Saying goodbye to some really amazing people and saying hello to a new adventure. It’s really bitter sweet. Wow have I fallen in head-over-heels love with the people and the culture here in Quito. So thankful for my experience in the day care center. The people there are truly a blessing. I can’t say it enough.

Despidiendo algunas personas completamente chevere y saludando una aventura nueva. Siento muchas emociones. Wow estoy enamorada con la gente y cultura aquí en Quito. Estoy muy agradecida por mi experiencia en la guardia. La gente allá es una bendición. No puedo decirlo suficiente. 


Tias, mis corazones y yo – The women who work in the day care center, my loves and I.


El grupo con que pasaba mi rato. Estoy enamorada! The group that I spent my time with. I’m in love!  Mishell, William, Tiffany, Daniela, Naomi, Marco, Tamara, Adriel, Justin y Emily (enferma en esta foto)


Sols – Suns

The next chapter of my adventure is a little loco. Tonight at 11:30 pm, I’ll head out on a ten hour bus trip to Cuenca (a city a little south). From there, I’ll decide where I want to go next. I have a tentative plan but it’s exciting that I have two weeks to completely spend my time in the way that I want to. What an exciting trip! Of course, I will keep in touch so you all know that I am safe. 🙂 ❤ Much love!

La próxima capitula de mi aventura es un poco loco. Esta noche a las 11:30, voy por un camino de 10 horas en autobús a Cuenca (una ciudad en el sur). De allá, voy a decidir a donde quiero ir. Tengo algunas ideas pero es emocionante que tengo dos semanas para hacer lo que sea con mi tiempo. Que emocionante! Claro, voy a mantener comunicación para que Uds. puedan saber que estoy segura. 🙂 ❤ Mucho amor! 


The general idea of the cities that I want to visit. Let’s get to this! La idea general en que yo quiero hacer. Vamos!

la foto

This backpack was made for books not clothes and hygeine products for two weeks but hey, I can make do! Esta mochila es para libros no para ropa y productos de hygeine por 2 semanas but hey, si se puede!

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This is my ready for the adventure face woot! Esta es mi estoy lista cara!

Thanks as always for the love and support 🙂 Love you all!

Gracias como siempre para el amor y apoya 🙂 Los quiero!

Arriba y abajo. Up and down. Arriba y…

Up, down. Up, down. Up and down! And now I know how to say this perfectly in Spanish after completing the teeth brushing program with the kids. It was totally awesome! I was accompanied by a professor/ friend/ “aunt” from the Spanish school that I am a part of  for the program on Wednesday. We first demonstrated how to properly brush the teeth to the kids. Up and down not side to side, the molars, the insides of the teeth and please don’t forget the tongue! The program was truly fun and a test for me. I was definitely being stretched and pushed out of my comfort zone but hey, that’s the kind of experiences that I LIVE for so I was digging it. After we demonstrated, each kid came up to the front and showed the rest of the kids how to brush properly then they received their “prize” (a bag packed with two toothbrushes, two tooth pastes and four flosses.) How exciting, right?!? The majority of the kids that I know would have probably said, “that’s it?” but that’s why these kids are special. The loved their prize. God is good and my heart is full.

Arriba, abajo. Arriba, abajo. Arriba y abajo! Ahora soy una experta con esta frase después de finalizar el programa de cepillarse los dientes. Era chevere! Una profesora/ amiga/ tía de la escuela de Espanol me acompañó para hacer el programa con los niños del center. Primero nosotros demostramos la manera correcta de cepillarse los dientes. Arriba y abajo, las mueles, a dentro y por favor no se olvide la lengua! El programa era muy divertido y también una prueba para mi. No estaba en mi caja cómoda pero estas experiencias son mi razón de vivir entonces, me encantó. Después de demostrar, cada niño vino para mostrar el resto la manera correcta. Después, ellos recibieron su “premio” (una bolsa con dos cepillos, pasta y hilo dental). Que emocionante, no!??! La mayoría de los niños que yo conozco probablemente diría “eso??” pero esto es la razón que estos niños son especiales. A ellos les encantó su premio. Dios es buenismo y mi corazón es lleno. 


Pasé la tarde antes del programa con mi hermanita y mamita preparando. -Spent the evening before the program preparing with the hermanita and mamita.














Inti Raymi Festival

After a weekend of the “in-a-different-country-need-to-stay-close-to-a-toilet” sickness (TMI??), I was ready to get going! So, despite what many of my friends and family said that I shouldn’t do, I made plans with some CouchSurfers. Couchsurfing.org is a website that connects travelers and people who want to meet new people/ learn about new cultures all over the world… and yes, it was totally legit. In fact, one of the best times that I’ve had yet! The plans to head over to Otavalo (South America’s largest market) for the Inti Raymi (day of the sun festival) were discussed over coffee with about 8 people or so a day before the event. We had three cars, about 15 people and planned to leave Friday morning (1 car), afternoon (1 car – me) and evening (1 car). Inti Raymi is a festival to essentially honor Inti (the God of the sun). The tradition in Ecuador is to bathe in a Waterfall close to Otavalo at midnight to cleanse the body and demonstrate appreciation for nature.

Después de un fin de semana con la enfermedad “estoy-en-otro-pais-y-necesito-quedarme-cerca-del-baño”, estaba lista para ir! Entonces, a pesar de los consejos de algunos amigos y familia, hice planes con algunos Couchsurfers! Couchsurfing es un sitio de web que conecta muchos viajadores del mundo completo. Estas personas quieren aprender sobre otras culturas y conocer personas nuevas… y si, estaba completamente legítimo. En realidad, estaba uno de los tiempos mejores de mi viaje hasta ahora. Los planes estaban ir a Otavalo (el mercado mas grande en Suramérica) para las festivales Inti Raymi (dia del sol). Nosotros nos reunimos con café para discutir y plantificar antes del evento. Teníamos tres carros, casi 15 personas y plantificamos salir por la mañana (un carro), por la tarde (otro carro incluye yo) y por la noche (otro carro). Inti Raymi es una festival esencialmente para demonstrar el honor de Inti (el Dios del sol). La tradición es bañarse en una cascada cerca de Otavalo en el medio de la noche para limpiar el cuerpo y demonstrar apreciación para la madre tierra.

I met up with Phil (born in Ecuador, grew up in the states, lived in tons of different areas in the world and moved back to Ecuador), Mary (traveler currently living in Texas), Vickie (from Hong Kong traveling all of South America) and Anjelica (from New Mexico studying Spanish for her summer). The three hour car ride went by fast because of the awesome company and exchange of stories. When we arrived, we met up with the group, found the hostel and prepared for the festivities. First, we went to the Plaza de Ponchos for some dancing. People brought their own instruments and played a very simple but beautiful beat and moved in a circle.

Me reuní con Phil (nació en Ecuador, vivía en los Estados Unidos, vivía en lugares diferentes en cada parte del mundo y ahora vive otra vez en Ecuador), Mary (una viajadora que vive en Texas), Vickie (de Hong Kong y viajando en cada parte de Suramérica) y Anjelica (de Nueva México estudiando Español para el verano). El viaje de tres horas fue rápidamente a causa de la conversación buena. Cuando lleguemos, nos reunimos con el grupo, encontramos el hostal, y preparamos por las festivales. Primero, fuimos a la Plaza de Ponchos  para bailar. Personas trajeron sus propios instrumentos y toquemos un ritmo simple pero bonito. Cada persona bailaron en un circulo.

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Circles looked something like this. I was happy cuz I could totally dance this simple step with grace!  – Los círculos aparecen algo así. Estaba contenta porque totalmente podía hacer este baile simple.

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Me inside one of the circles. This man was very drunk but more importantly, very friendly! He asked me to take his picture. –Yo estaba en uno de los círculos. Este hombre estaba muy borracho pero mas importante, muy amable! El me preguntó tomar una foto.

After a little dancing, we made the ride to the waterfall for the bath at midnight. We made the ten minute walk to the waterfall, got ready and got in. Only 6 of the 15 of us made the risky move of going in the water. The water was freeeeeeezing! Body-numbing but refreshingly freezing. Fernanda, one of the CSers, knew much about the tradition so she led us in some singing and rituals. We took rocks (one for the past, present and future), let go of the past and the present, drank the traditional drink (given to us by the indigenous people also bathing in the waterfall), cleansed our bodies, sang some songs in Quechua, prayed and recognized the earth’s power (since the waterfall was super powerful). For me, I prayed and thanked God for the earth. The ritual made me feel very connected to nature and thankful for what nature allows us to have and do. I felt so very alive and aware in this moment. It was truly beautiful and very spiritual!

Después de bailar un poco, fuimos a la cascada para bañarnos en el medio de la noche. Caminamos por 10 minutos a la cascada, preparamos y fuimos en el agua. Solamente 6 de los 15 fuimos en el agua. Había muchoooooo frio! Tan frio como no pudimos sentir nuestros propios cuerpos. Fernando, una de los CSers, sabia mucho de las tradiciones entonces ella nos dirigió en algunas canciones y rituales. Cogimos pierdas (uno del pasado, uno del presente y uno del futuro), llevamos los del pasado y presente, bebemos la bebida tradicional (de la gente indígena que estaba en el agua también) y apreciamos el poder de la tierra. A mi, yo recé y agradecí a Dios para la tierra. La ritual me trajo sentimientos conectados a la naturaleza y agradecidos para lo que la naturaleza nos da. Sentía muy viva y consciente en este momento! Estaba completamente bonito y un momento muy spiritual para mi!

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The waterfall was so strong! Pictures were impossible. – La cascada era muy fuerte! Fotos no eran posibles.

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Best image to give you the idea of the beauty of the waterfall/ river. – La foto mejor para dar una imagen de la belleza de la cascada/ rio 

After changing and attempting (and failing) to warm up, we headed back to the cars, shared a traditional drink of this festival and danced. I danced with my hands in the air as if the rhythm didn’t matter and the people around me didn’t judge (because they really didn’t). I felt free and wonderful. The people around me were such great company and I am so thankful for this experience! What a blast I had.

Después de cambiar la ropa y intentar (y fallar) calentar, nosotros fuimos al estacionamiento, compartimos una bebida tradicional de esta festival y bailamos. Yo bailé con mis manos en el aire como si el ritmo no le importara y la gente no me juzgara (por que en serio ellos no juzgaron). Sentía libreisma y maravillosisma. La gente allá era compañía buena y estoy muy agradecida por esta experiencia! Que tiempo chevere. 

After we had enough of the dancing/ talking, we headed back into town for our hostel. We stayed up until 6 a.m. sharing stories, laughing, playing games, being too loud and talking too much. I felt super connected to the people and I had just met them. What an amazing time, seriously.

Después de terminar bailando y hablando, fuimos a la ciudad Otavalo otra vez para ir a nuestro hostal. Solamente compartimos, reímos, jugamos, causamos mucho ruido y hablamos por tanto tiempo hasta 6 de la mañana. Ya sentía súper conectada con este grupo y acabo de conocerlo. Que tiempo maravilloso, en serio. 

The festivities continued the next day. We had breakfast, encebollado (a delicious and traditional Ecuadorian fish soup), walked around the market, (which really is huge), and left to see Lake Cuicocha in the city Cotacachi (a city known for cheap leather). The indigenous people and visitors were celebrating here as well with dancing and other traditional acts.

Continuamos el próximo día. Desayunamos encebollado (un plato rico de Ecuador), caminamos en el mercado (muy grande!) y nos fuimos a ver el Lago Cuicocha en la ciudad Cotacachi (una ciudad conocida por cuero barato). La gente indígena y visitantes estaban celebrando allá también con bailes y otras tradiciones. 

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Tons of handmade goodies sold at the market. – Muchas cosas de mano en este mercado.

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View from the top of out hostel. – Vista de la arriba de nuestro hostal.

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Traditional dress – Vestido tradicional

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This little girl was amazing. She really didn’t know the dance very well and just laughed the WHOLE time! Everyone else joined in on the laughter. How cute! – Esta chica estaba maravillosa! Ella no sabia el baile bien pero solamente reía el tiempo completo. Cada persona estaba riendo también. Que precioso!

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Traditional dress and written in Quechua. –Vestido tradicional y escrito en Quechua.

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Inti Raymi rituals – Rituales de Inti Raymi

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Beautiful lake Cuicocha (Can you see any Cuyes?) – Lago bonito de Cuichoca (Puedes ver los cuyes??)

Cuicocha Lake is an active crater lake rich of plants and cuyes (guinea pigs, YUM!) We went on a boat to go around and check it out. It was truly beautiful. The bluest water that I’ve ever seen!

El lago Cuicocha es un crater activo con muchas plantas y Cuyes (YUM!) Fuimos en una bota para ver. Era muy bonito. El agua más azul que he visto en mi vida!

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My new awesome friends! – Mis amigos nuevos y cheveres!

We ended the trip with lunch and our goodbyes. Despite the fact that I am now sick (or sicker than I already was) from the cold midnight swim, what an amazing time that I had. So appreciative for the opportunity to experience this ritual and day of thanks. I learned a lot about the culture, the people, the history and met some amazing people. I just might be the world’s next travel (and Couchsurfing) feen. 🙂 That ain’t no problem though! What do you all think of this festival?

Terminamos el viaje con almuerzo y un despedido. A pesar del hecho que ahora estoy enferma (o mas enferma que ya estaba) del baño frío del media de la noche, que tiempo maravilloso tenia! Estoy muy agradecida por esta oportunidad de tener la experiencia de esta ritual y día de gracias. Aprendí mucho de la cultura, la gente, la historia y conocí algunas personas buenísimas.  Tal vez yo sea la próxima persona obsesiva de viajar (y de Couchsurfing).  🙂 Pero eso no es un problema! Que piensan Uds. de esta festival? 

Can’t get enough

It’s amazing how many adventures that you can pack into 20 days of being in a new, exciting, welcoming environment.

Es impresionante cuantas aventuras puedas tener con 20 días en un ambiente nuevo, emocionante y cariñoso.

Things that I just CAN’T get enough of – Cosas que me encantan:

  • Ecuadorian Pride – Orgullo Ecuatoriano

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  • Dancing (especially with my little sister) – Bailando (especialmente con mi hermanita)

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  • Learning about the culture – Aprendiendo la cultura

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  • These precious little ones – Mis amores preciosos

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  • Laughing – Riendo

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  • My crazy Ecuadorian family – Mi familia loquísima de Ecuador

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  •  Trying new food (Guniea Pig) – Probando comida nueva (cuy)

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  •  Seeing new places – Viendo lugares nuevos

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  • Amazing new friends – Amigos nuevos y divertidos (y loquísima como yo 🙂 )

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  • Doing crazy things – Haciendo cosas locas

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  •  Nature – Naturaleza

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Obviously, I just can’t get enough of everything here! I am enjoying every moment, feeling completely fulfilled and as always, so thankful for this opportunity. My perspective about many things is changing and I am appreciate to be able to learn these lessons.

Obviamente, me encantan muchísimas cosas acá! Estoy disfrutando cada minuto, sintiendo completamente feliz y como siempre, muy agradecida para esta oportunidad. Mi perspectivo de muchos ideas esta cambiando y aprecio que pueda aprender estas lecciones.

A few of the lessons that I’ve learned/ am learning – Algunas lecciones aprendidas/ estoy aprendiendo:

  • There are so many places to see. Hay muchos lugares para ver.
  • Life exists outside of our comfort zones and exploring it is a great way to learn about yourself. La vida existe en otras partes y explorándola es una manera buena aprender sobre tu propia vida.
  • Toilet paper in a public restroom is more of a blessing than an entitlement. Papel del baño no es una exceptiva, es como una bendición
  • “Look both ways” is an extremely relevant statement. I’ve almost been hit by a car/ bus about 5 times! “Mire en ambas direcciones” es una frase muy útil. Una coche casi me pegó 5 veces!
  • Material possessions really have little value. People are what matter. Posesiones materiales no vale nada. La gente es lo que importa.
  • “Yes” is an amazing word that everyone should say more. Live life, y’all! “SI” es a palabra importante y cada persona debe decirla más. Vivan la vida, amigos.
  • Salsa is … chevere 🙂 Salsa es… chevere.
  • Accents are inevitable. Don’t be ashamed! 🙂  Los acentos son inevitables. No tengan vergüenza!

and soooooo many more valuable lessons that will stick with me forever. ❤ Loving it here but of course missing my friends and family back home. Love you all!

Hay muchísimas mas lecciones valiosas que tendré siempre. ❤ Me encanta este lugar pero claro los extraño mi familia y mis amigos en los estados. Te quiero!

Weekend numero uno

Weekend number one in Ecuador was successful and full of adventures!

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Check out that view. I can’t get enough!

Friday, May 24

This is a day to celebrate independence in Ecuador. So of course I

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The central plaza.

joined right in! First I went with some other travelers and some Spanish professors to the Centro Historico where the president’s speech was on a big screen and everyone was watching. His house is also right in the main area! This was beautiful. I really can’t get over how amazing the mountains and all the scenery in general look. Afterwards, I went to lunch with some people from the school. Yay for making friends in new places! All in all, traveling sola has been a great experience for me. Definitely is forcing me to get out of my comfort zone.

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Dharmee from England, Monica from Ecuador, me and Linda from Germany! Love meeting new people.

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Later that night, Linda (the girl from German that also lives in this house) and I decided to go on a little late night adventure to Quito’s old airport where the president was speaking live and they were having various celebrations. WOHOO! Being there was amazing. I could truly feel the country’s pride and loved it.

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Watching the President speak. How cool!

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“The happiness of a town lies in the individual independence of those of live in it.”

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Ecuadorian pride.

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I seriously felt the passion. Loved it!

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The real Equator

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The not-so-real Equator.

Saturday, May 25 – Today I visited the equator. Oh you know, the place where the North and the South meet, no big deal. It was super cool! It was also my first time truly leaving the house (farther than normal) alone. I took two buses to La Mitad Del Mundo to visit two museums. The first was where the real equator lies. They also have some beautiful houses with information about the indigenous people who lived there first. It’s interesting that the indigenous people knew where the correct equator was and then the French and some others came in to claim “the equator line” and they were wrong. Wahh wahh wahhhhh. This is where the second museum that I visited comes in. There is a huge monument with a line just like in the other museum but it is just wrong! I wonder how many people don’t know that the actual equator has been calculated with a GPS and is the actual equator… Happy to be one of them! (Now you can be happy to be one of them too wink wink.) When returning back home, Adventurous Han got a little lost… she got on the right bus, twice (a new record) but missed her stop and kept going to the point she didn’t know where she was. After asking about three people which way Colon and Versalles was, she finally found her way. Lesson learned though! (or so I thought)…

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The museum with the not-so-real Equator had some awesome traditional dancing. (Probably to make up for the fact that ya know, they’re biggest attraction is kinda wrong. hah)

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There were tons of really cute shops at Mitad del Mundo. I did some bartering too, and won. Lesson learned! haha

Sunday, May 26 – Today I went exploring in the central district (where I live). I went to a market called Mercado Artesanal and a museum close to it. At the museum, I learned a lot about the extremely rich history about Ecuador. Also, I met a cute local and practiced my Spanish (of courssee!)

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Haha I didn’t notice that he posed for my picture until I was reviewing my photos. I really thought I was being sneaky! Que chevere 🙂 haha

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At the Museum of Cultura Ecuatoriana. Very interesting and important stuff!

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Ran into some sort of an anime convention. You never know what you’ll find while exploring!

Later that night, there was a group that wanted to go to the movies (about a ten minute taxi ride). Mamita (Yadi, the woman I live with) told me to take a Taxi but I am able all about conserving that cashola to make the most out of my trip that I wanted to take the Metrobus. Oops! This caused me to get lost (again, guess I didn’t learn my lesson the first time..) and to be late and to not be able to find the group and to go to a movie by myself. Oh well! Anyway, the movie was completely in Spanish and was great practice. On the way back, I definitely was planning on taking a taxi but the guy told me 3 dollars and Yadi told me that it should only be 2! Because of my stubbornness and fear of being the “gringa that keeps getting ripped off” I walked about ten minutes to the Metrobus stop which was closed. YAY! Therefore, I walked all the way back to the movies where I flagged down a taxi to take me back. And what are the odds!?!! It was the same taxi driver as earlier so I had to suck it up and pay 3. Haha Just another fun adventure in my eyes I’ve gotten lost about 5 times now and each time I first get found then learn more about the city haha. It’s all about the journey right!! I’m still thankful that I always make it home 🙂

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Home sweet home. (Ecuador home of course)

Monday, May 28 – I spent 8 hours at Retonitos playing with the kids and even helping with homework. It truly is a humbling experience being here. I really can see myself growing in so many ways already. I just love to love, live and learn! I couldn’t imagine feeling more thankful and blessed for this opportunity. Much love to everyone!