Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I hope everyone reading this has had a good holiday season so far. I'm putting a bunch of pictures up as I finally have access to the connector cord for my camera. I'm back in Deerfield right now, after having a nice time visiting family in Florida and Indiana. One more week of freezing my butt off before heading back to the equator =) The picture above is from hiking in Cajas National Park near Cuenca over thanksgiving.
Making shampoo out of nettles and going on a horseback ride (or mule ride as the case may be) to a market across the canyon.
Packing candy bags for all the kids . . . very monotonous as you went round and round putting crackers and chocolates in all the bags.
The christmas spectacular at the school . . . I really have no idea what is going on here as I got there late. At first I thought he was one of the wise men, but the other guy in the back is dressed up more like Napolean. Plus there were kids dressed up as clowns as well as others with black face paint. No one could explain to me what was happening either.
My little host brother and a buddy at the christmas party. The first grade dressed up in formal wear for what amounted to be choosing a homecoming king and queen. Mateo had a lot to live up to as both his older brothers had been chosen, but unfortunately the title went to someone else.
Handing out the candy bags to some very happy kids!
At Busch gardens with my mom in Tampa. The weather in Florida was beautiful which made heading to Chicago not so much fun. No real culture shock for me to speak of, the only thing I have to be careful of is to throw the toilet paper in the toilet and not the trash. Plus getting used to the below freezing temps again. Well that's all from here, and I hope everyone has a happy new year!
Friday, December 19, 2008
I had a nice time this past week hanging out with a peace corps friend and her family who were staying at one of the hostels here. It was nice going on hikes with them and just hanging out and speaking english. Plus I enjoy comparing notes with other peace corps volunteers and getting ideas. We did the laguna quilotoa hike which I hadn't done since may. It was a lot easier for me so I guess I'm finally getting used to these hills. Somedays it doesn't feel like it as I get out of breath walking up the hill 5 minutes into town. This usually happens when I take off at my flatland walking pace as opposed to the slower pace most people here walk at.
One thing I've noticed doing gardening here is that always seems to rain right after I water the garden. It generally rains pretty regularly here but sometimes it can go a few days without rain. So I start getting nervous and finally give in and water after which it promptly rains. Plus the clouds here can fake you out into thinking it will rain. You'll see all these really dark gray clouds and figure that it's definitely going to rain and then they blow off somewhere else. Has anyone else ever noticed this phenomenon? The only other place I've really gardened in was California where it never rained so I didn't get the chance to notice it.
Well this will be my last posting for the year in Ecuador. I head to Quito on Wednesday and then fly to Florida xmas day.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Other than that I gotta admit I've kind of checked out since thanksgiving. I've been doing a lot of hiking and also still teaching english but not much more than that. I think I'm just impatient for going back to the states for xmas.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
So Christmas is coming up and if any of you out there is in a particularly alturistic mood and want to donate some money I have just the opportunity for you. The local primary school here along with one of the local hostels puts together little goody bags of candy and other things for all the kids, but they're a bit short on funds. So if anyone would like to donate a little bit of money for this that would be great. You can email me and I'll send info on how to go about it. My email is email@example.com. Any help would be appreciated since a lot of these kids don't get much in the way of xmas presents (if they get anything at all) and it's a bit rough when they see all the ads on tv which there are just as many of as in the US.
I know I promised to post pictures but I realized I forgot to pack my connecter cable for my camera. I'm visiting some friends near riobamba for the weekend and had hoped to upload pics but didn't pay attention while I was packing, oops!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
My bus adventure happened yesterday. I needed to go into town to pick up some supplies for making shampoo, so I got up early to catch the 4 o'clock bus. I got to the main square at 5 till, but must have just missed it. So I go back home planning on taking the student bus that takes kids from my town to Sigchos where there is the high school. From there I can catch another bus into Latacunga. I get on this bus no problem but about halfway there we run into a bad patch of road (it's been raining a lot lately) that takes about 20 minutes to navigate around. By the time I get into Sigchos the other bus has already left and there isn't another one until the afternoon. I can't really wait for that one because I have to meet up with my host mom in Latacunga to give her a list of things she needs to buy in town. So I wander around for while trying to see if I can hitch a ride on a truck. I eventually find one which is good, but have to pay a lot more than the bus fare (not so good). But I do make it into town finally, hook up with my host mom and get my shopping done. Luckily this all went uneventfully!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The family garden project is still a little slow getting off the ground. We have the seeds and now it's raining enough that they won't have to water extra, but no one has been at the meetings we've had. This past monday there was a big pta meeting at the school so no one came to our usual meeting (plus it was raining pretty hard which gives everyone an excuse not to come). Hopefully we can get some gardens planted in the next few weeks.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
This Friday I’m looking forward to going to the jungle to visit two friends there. They were managers at one of the hostels here and one of them is from the oriente so it will be fun to get a more insider’s perspective on life there. Plus I feel like I need a little bit of defrosting since it’s been pretty cold and rainy here the past week or so. This whole year the weather has been really strange with a lot more rain than usual and no real summer (which would generally be still happening now). Everyone is worried about their potatoes with all this rain.
Well that’s all from here. Hopefully for my next post I’ll have some fun pics from the jungle =)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I was bummed that we didn't have a lot of free time in Quito to do shopping and other errands. The reason for this is that this sunday there is a referendum on the new constitution and peace corps wanted us all out of Quito friday. That is because in order to vote, there is a mass exodus of biblical proportions with everyone going to the city of their birth (more or less). You have to vote where your cedula (gov't issued idea) says your home is and most people in Ecuador don't change their cedula when they move. Voting is required so that means everyone is traveling this weekend so they can vote.
The referendum also means I can't leave my site until peace corps decides it's safe just in case there is a bit of a ruckus over the results. Apparently the new constitution is in a more communist bent a la Chavez or Morales so the campesinos all like it but the business people in the cities don't. Nobody knows what will happen as this is the first time since Ecuador became democratic in the 80s that the people have gotten a say in the constitution. All I know about it is that they've had lots of ads on TV about how there are articles against gay marriage, gays adopting, and abortions. I've also heard that there's something about land ownership that is controversial and people in the coast are killing to guarantee their land but that's all I know. Things have been pretty calm in my town so I'm not real worried. Plus they have a dry law starting today until Monday so no one gets too out of hand. I hope nothing happens like in Bolivia where the peace corps volunteers had to leave for their safety. Some of the displaced volunteers are coming to Ecuador so maybe I'll get a new neighbor.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
It's a small world - I do live in a touristy area, but it's amazing how many people you meet from your home area. I've met a couple of people from the chicago area (including one who swam for the rival high school swim team to mine). Also a person who went to the state school across town from my college.
More world knowledge, albeit a few weeks late - I actually read newsmagazines cover to cover these days since I'm always desperate for reading material. This includes the financial articles that I would never have looked at before. So I'm a bit more informed on world affairs, if a little behind the times.
Baking fun - I would never have thought I would be known for my cooking, but it appears that's the case. Although I don't really have much to compete with as most people here don't have the time or money to bake cookies. So I feel good being the sugar supplier.
So those were a few random observations. This week I finished two more sweaters, although one is more of a tank top since I ran out of yarn for sleeves. I also started teaching english in the school today. There were about 50 kids that I was trying to impart some knowledge on, but as you can imagine with 50 12 year olds it didn't go real well. I guess I'll have to work harder on my teaching technique.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
I've also started working on a tree nursery because one of the local hostels won money to start a nursery to go along with the compost and recycling center that are already here. It's been a crash course in making cuttings and preparing the soil. Hopefully some of the plants will survive despite my clumsy efforts =)
I don't think I mentioned yet on my blog, but I will be coming back to the states for xmas. I bought my tickets not that long ago and am looking forward to a little vacation time.
Friday, August 22, 2008
In other news I just watched the entire 20K racewalking competition in the olympics. They haven't really shown much of the olympics here, but an ecuadorian had a good chance of winning so they showed the entire race. My host brothers were totally getting into the race and freaking out at the end. I was just trying not to giggle since I find the racewalkers funny doing their weird little stride. In the end the ecuadorian won silver which was very exciting and now my little host brother is pretending to be a racewalker.
Monday, August 11, 2008
On another note, I have a growing respect for translators. That’s not to say I didn’t before but I hadn’t really ever thought about it. I was helping out in the hostel the other day trying to translate for a tourist there and getting highly confused in the process. It’s hard to keep languages straight when you’re using them simutaneously. I do fine as long as I’m just surrounded by one or the other, but when both are happening it’s very confusing. I was sitting outside with my host mom one day and a tourist came by to ask for directions. So I gave the directions and then turned to say something to my host mom, but instead of spanish I started speaking in english. Oops!
Friday, August 1, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
For my b-day last week I ended up going with a group of tourists on horseback to the cloud forest. It was a fun trip and the cloud forest was beautiful. My rear was a bit sore afterwards as I hadn't been on a horse for a long time, but it was a small price to pay for the experiance. My three month quarantine is finally up so I can travel in Ecuador now without getting special permission. It's a peace corps policy that you have to stay in your site for the first three months to make sure you get intergrated into the community. Right now I'm just thinking of spending a night in the nearby town to have some alone time. I love the community here but I think I'm starting to get a bit of cabin fever. So a night away would be nice.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
In other news I have a boyfriend here in town. He has just graduated, likes to go on walks, and enjoys making cookies. The fact that he is four is only a minor impedement. It has become the town joke these days that my little host brother is my "novio" because I walked him to preschool a few times. Everyone asks me how my boyfriend is doing or when the wedding is. The preschool had a little graduation ceremony the other day which was very cute. It isn't just an american thing that little kids insist on yelling instead of singing the songs.
Well that's all from here. Tommorrow is my birthday but I'm not planning on anything exciting. Tonight I'm baking a cake with my host family and we're going to watch Harry Potter which will be fun.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
My little host brother was very cute the other day. We were all watching lion king and he started crying at the end of it. awww! School just finished up here with a big fiesta on Thursday. Everyone gets a party for moving on to the next grade. My supervisor also visited this week to see how things are going and it seemed like he was pleased with the visit. I was one of the first he visited so I didn't find out about how everyone else is doing. The sad news is that 2 people headed back to the states from my training group. I think the sites were a bit rough for them, but I don't really know much else.
Some random observations on my life here in Ecuador that I haven't mentioned before:
1. the radio stations around here are very random. they will play a bunch of ecuadorian songs and then suddenly throw in "eye of the tiger", "hot stuff", "footloose", or my personal favorite "my heart will go on" They'll throw in other american songs too, but these seem to be the favorites.
2. i've decided i'm not really a fan of guinea pig. they're hard to eat, there's not much meat, and i don't really like the taste too much. the problem is that as the guest in people's houses i often get served whole guinea pig (you eat the brain too) when i'd rather just have chicken. luckily it isn't rude to ask for a to-go bag so i take the guinea pig back to my host family.
3. it's cool to live in a place that people come visit. i've never lived in a scenic place before, and it's quite awesome to have trails leaving from your backyard.
4. the temperature here never really changes, but that doesn't stop people from always complaining about it. when i first got here i thought it was unseasonably cold since people were always talking about it, but then i realized they are always talking about it.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I’m also getting used to the lack of change in the days. This being the equator the days are always the same length. The sun comes up around 6:30 and goes down around 6:30. It’s nice that I don’t have to worry about those short winter days that are always so depressing =)
Monday, June 23, 2008
It’s been a little while since I last posted due to unfortunate stomach issues I was having. But everything is back to normal now, which is good. I’ve become quite the tea drinker due to all the herbal remedies people use here. I don’t know if it helps, but it certainly can’t hurt. Plus tea is very nice in the evenings for warming oneself up. The only danger is that they sometimes use the word café instead of tea, but sometimes they use it to mean coffee. So I'm always worried that I'll get coffee instead. Speaking of teas, I did my first little talk/workshop on compost teas (nice segue huh) and it went pretty well. We made one mixture with stinging nettle and another using ash, onions and various other herbs to help combat the blight that has been attacking the blackberries. Time will tell if it actually helped.
I missed a good chunk of the knitting workshop this past week due to my stomach but the lady is coming back this week so maybe I’ll actually try making a sweater. I’ve made a few different types of scarves and hats and now I’m ready to branch out. It’s fun sitting in on these sessions and listening to the ladies talk as they cover all sorts of interesting topics. They are very blunt in their opinions about things and not afraid to say what they think. This becomes slightly ackward when they say to me “how come you’re pudgy?”, which I’ve been asked on several occasions along with “how come you’re single and don’t have any kids?” They certainly don’t beat aroud the bush, but at least I’m used to it now =)
Friday, June 13, 2008
I think summer has finally arrived here in the mountains. A few weeks ago I thought the same thing and then the rains came back, but the warmth seems like it’s for real this time. Which is a relief because some of my stuff was starting to grow mold from all the rain. The trade-off is that now it’s really windy and blowing dust everywhere. Oh well, I’ll take the sun over the rain (at least for the moment).
So I feel my work here is done as I’ve introduced my host family to the joys of harry potter. It’s a good think I brought all the books in spanish. I’ve also promised them that the next time I go into town I’ll see if I can find the movies as well. There is a good dvd store stuff in english and spanish and high quality too. I picked up a few disney movies last week and my host siblings and I all enjoyed watching aladdin.
Yesterday was the celebration for the day of the child in the school. The parents put on quite an entertaining program, complete with reenacments of little red riding hood and snow white. The best part was this race involving the mothers pushing the dads (who were pretending to be babies) in wheelbarrows and then having to undress them (thankfully not all the way) then put on diapers and talc. For the final leg of the race the babies had to crawl to the finish line. There was also a party earlier this week for the people graduating from the learn to read program. I had a fun time dancing and watching a very serious game of musical chairs (who knew that was popular over here?).
Saturday, June 7, 2008
I've finally made it back into the larger town so I can add some more pictures. There are a couple from the potato picking minga (including everyone fleeing the stuck truck), and a couple of my host siblings staging their own mini olympics. The others are from the gorgeous hike from the crater lake back to my town. In a side note if anyone is wondering about why I never include the names of places in my blog, it's a result of peace corps policy. Apparently they are worried that nefarious people will find the blog and use the information to kidnapp us or something like that. I find this rather humerous, as it isn't that hard to find gringos in Ecuador in the first place. Besides we volunteers have only slightly more money than the locals, so if I were a kidnapper I'd definitely go for the rich tourists first. So now you know why I'm so vague and if I'm totally digressing it's because I had to get up at 2:30 this morning to catch the bus here.
Anyway back to the absolutely lovely (and tiring hike). I hooked up with another peace corps volunteer who was visiting with a friend to do the hike. We were also joined by another couple from one of the hostels. The truck ride up to the crater was tiring in and of itself because it was very bumpy and all of us had sore rear ends. The hike starts by walking part way around the crater and then leaving it to head towards the town. One thing that's true of hikes here is that there are no safety standards. There were a few times when we were climbing down the mountain or traversing a mudslide on the side of a cliff that I was a little concerned for my safety. But it was well worth the risk and the sore muscles afterwards. So if anyone reading this ends up visiting, this is definitely one thing we'll be doing =)
I have come to hate meetings here (not that I really liked them anywhere). They are soooo long and it seems like the point could have been gotten to a lot faster. Last night I ended up leaving before the end of the women's group meeting because I wasn't feeling good and we had already been there for several hours without really accomplishing anything (as near as I could tell). Plus the whole latin time thing is not a myth. I'm surprised when things start within an hour of when they're supposed to. So I bring a book or my knitting and settle in for the long haul.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
The other week I decided that I wanted to make some zuccini bread. The problem being that there were no zuccinis at the Sunday market. I figured that was the end of it (and decided to substitute carrots instead) but my host mom went and talked to one of the veggie vendors and she said that she could bring some next time. So the next week came around and the vendor brought a whole box full for me which was cheaper than trying to bring just one or two. Now I have 10 zuccinis, so if anyone has good zuccini recipes (other than bread) please let me know! I also still haven’t perfected baking at high altitude yet. The cookies have turned out fine but cakes and breads have not. They usually end up burned on the edges and slightly raw in the middle, or weirdly deflated. The cookbook peace corps gave us has a conversion chart which obviously hasn’t worked quite right. Tips on this front would be helpful as well!
This weekend there has been a festival for Mary in the church. I don’t quite understand what it’s all about, but the festival involves carrying a picture or doll of Mary from house to house and saying the rosary (I think) a lot. I now know the Lord’s prayer and various other incantations in spanish very well. People here get excited about the festivals in the church but normal church attendance isn’t very high. I think it’s a similar trend in a lot of places. Well that’s all from
Thursday, May 29, 2008
So for those of you who don’t know, I can be rather klutzy sometimes. I have been expecting since I got here to fall while running (I’ve tripped numerous times, but always managed to stay on my feet), and yesterday that thought came to fruition =(. I totally nosedived and scraped up my hands and knee pretty good. Then in the same day I skidded scrambling down a steep, muddy trail and landed on my rear. Luckily the only thing that was hurt there was my pride. I was going to help some community members plant potatoes and in the process of helping bonked my other knee with the azadon (a large hoe-esque tool). I was very happy when the day was over and no other accidents had occurred.
The other exciting event this week was that one of the local buses tipped over not far from my house. Fortunately there weren’t any passengers aboard and the driver wasn’t hurt. This provided all the locals with entertainment (better than the soaps) as we tried to right the bus using only ropes and a tightening tool with cables which I don’t know the name of in english. Suprisingly (for me) the job was accomplished in a morning. First we had to drag the bus a bit because there wasn’t enough space to flip it up and afterwards we pulled it up. It’s cool here how everyone congregates for these sorts of projects. Earlier this week everyone was helping paint the town center and there have also been work projects to fix the roads. Plus people always help each other plant their crops. There’s a nice sense of community that one doesn’t always find in the states. It makes sense though, because here you never know when you’re going to need help, so you help others so that they’ll help you.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Yesterday I headed up to the paramo (above the timberline) to plant potatoes with a large group of people from the community. It was quite an adventure as the road up was very bad. It was like an amusement park ride all over again complete with shrieking girls and hysterical laughter. It’s funny that people aren’t concerned about walking up and down the side of a mountain (which is one of my concerns), but every little bump and skid in the road while driving gets them quite agitated. Maybe it was more dangerous then I realized, but it seemed like the driver had control of the car the whole time. It was amazing how many papas we got planted in just one day. Granted there were a lot of people, but the system was very efficient. There were guys making the holes, then people with the papas putting them in, and then people with the fertilizer adding that and covering up the holes. It’s a good thing we got done quickly as it started to pour afterwards (which made the trip back exciting).
One tradition I find interesting is that it isn’t rude here to ask for a doggy bag when you’re at someone’s house. For the first couple of weeks I was stuffing myself trying to finish everything, but now I can just take the stuff back with me. This is also good when they are feeding me pig skin and chicken or cuy entrails as I can take it with me and then feed it to the dog.
Monday, May 19, 2008
I´m partied out at the moment. This past weekend there were parties every night until all hours. Friday night was the good-bye party for the volunteer who has been here for the past three years. There was lots of food and ackward standing around until the drinks starting flowing a bit more. Then everyone got up to do the “campo shuffle” which is the only kind of dance around here. Luckily it doesn’t require much movement or coordination, so I don’t make a fool of myself when I do it. The music gets a bit old as there really isn’t much variety. Apparently the party went all night although I was a party pooper and went home around 10. Saturday there was a party commemorating the one year anniversary of the death of the neighbor’s husband (I think it was the husband although I’m not sure). I did not attend this party but given the fact that it was next door and that the band played all night accompanied by fireworks, I was certainly kept awake by it. Sunday there were 2 weddings and 6 baptisms in the local church and then a party to celebrate that night. I’m glad things have calmed down a bit now.
So I’ve decided in my down time to take up baking. I made a bunch of cookies for the party and also a chocolate cake a talk two health peace corps volunteers were giving here. I have found that a lot of things are more interesting when one is slightly bored. I enjoy reading, but I have a lot of down time and sometimes it gets old. Also after concentrating on spanish all day I don’t always went to do any sort of intellectual pursuit. Although now I just bought the portable dvd player from the old volunteer so I can enjoy the boob tub occasionally (I just have to go and pick up some bootlegged movies from town).
Thursday, May 15, 2008
This past week has been pretty busy, and I’ve been a tad sick which is why I haven’t written. It’s now officially summer as it hasn’t rained hardly at all in the last week and a half. I think the change in weather brought on my cold/cough, but I’m feeling better now. I finally got around to making cookies which turned out better than I expected. M&Ms had to be used instead of chocolate chips as it is impossible to find choco chips in
Another random observation is how bus drivers try to sell their trips at the terminal. You’re walking down the line of buses and all the drivers are trying to get you to pick their bus. I feel like I’m in a department store. The thing is all the buses are going to different places, so why would I suddenly choose to go someplace different? How may people wander into the terminal saying “I wonder where I should go, maybe I’ll see which driver is the most convincing”? It just seems an odd place for a sales pitch but maybe there’s something about it I don’t know.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
So I've finally made it into the big city and can finally upload some of my photos. I realized after the fact that I haven't really taken that many photos yet of my current digs, so that will have to wait till next time. Most of the photos are of the swearing in ceremony and the parties following it. There's a picture of me with one of my language facilitators as well as one with one of our technical trainers. The lady behind the podium is the current US ambassador in Ecuador, who gave a very nice (and short speech). Then there are some pics of our nightime tour of Quito in the rockin' party bus. I couldn't figure out how to get a good night picture of the main plaza so please excuse the blurriness. For the picnic after swearing in we learned a fun bollywood dance and performed for everyone (yes, I actually danced in public). The only pic of my current life is the group of us knitting, which is not the greatest picture but it'll have to do for now =)
The title of the post refers to my experiences this past Sunday which were quite interesting. The former volunteer at my site had visited this other community to do a talk on small businesses and they invited me to come and see if I wanted to continue what the other volunteer had started. The other volunteer implied that it was not too long of a trip, so I didn't bring my cell phone as there really isn't any reception in the near vicinity. I hop in the truck and we were off early Sunday morning. After about two hours I'm starting to wonder where exactly we are going. So I ask the guy sponsoring this excursion and he says that it's three hours. I take this to mean three hours total, but actually he meant three more hours (which actually turned into four hours). Finally we arrive at the town which is in the transitional zone heading towards the coast and quite a bit warmer that I was prepared for. There's a very long town meeting where I am asked to present my ideas which I was not prepared for. Trying to speak on the fly in Spanish on a topic you're not ready for is an interesting experience and one I would not care to repeat. So the meeting finally wraps up and we climb back in the truck to head back. This trip is even longer as the roads are worse since there's been a downpour all afternoon, it's dark, and it's very cloudy. We get stuck in the mud on several occasions and in one instance the tire was off the edge of the road. I'm not sure if there was just a little drop under the tire, or if the tire was dangling over the cliff and frankly I was perfectly happy not to know. So we finally get back at around 4 in the morning and I don't think I was ever so happy to see my bed. Meanwhile people in town were quite concerned because they didn't realize I was going so far (since I didn't know either) and I got a bit of a talking to the next day about making sure to tell them where I was going. Plus now my knees are black and blue after constantly bonking against the dash for 14 hours. I am convinced that vehicles here are not built for anyone over 5'3".
As a result of this experience I have decided not to work with this group at the moment since I still need to get started in my community. Maybe after the summer and after the roads get patched up a bit I'll head back. Well that's all for now, I need to get to the supermarket to get stuff for chocolate chip cookies. yum! =)
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
It´s another grey day here in
Aside from the weather things are good. I have a running date during the week with one of the owners of the local hostal. She´s a bit shorter than me, so it´s more like she jogs and I walk fast. Since there isn´t a flat stretch of land to be found anywhere, the workout is a good one. I´m still visiting families in the morning, and getting fed whaaaaay too much food. I started out trying to be polite and finishing it all, but I´ve given that up due to the thanksgiving type feeling after every meal.
So one of my ponderings from studying spanish is why are all the verbs that one uses a lot (to be, to go, to do, to have, to put, to want, to know, to say) irregular and verbs like borrar (to erase) regular? It must be some sort of plot. Although to be fair I don’t really know if the more common verbs in english are irregular too (as I haven’t the foggiest idea how one actually conjugates verbs in english).
So another random question is can one take communion in a catholic church if they aren’t catholic? I can never remember what the rules are for that.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Well it´s been a week and I´m definitely settling into things. I´ve been visiting the various families that I´ll be working with and checking out their gardens. It´s been a bad year for crops as there´s been so much rain and all the plants have blight. I´ve been having fun getting to know people, although with my spanish skills the going is sometimes a bit interesting. I´ve found that making an idiot out of myself generally paves the way since everyone enjoys a good laugh. Plus I figure they´re going to find me humorous anyway and I´m always going to be making language mistakes so I might as well go with it.
I never really know where my days are going to end up, which makes things interesting. I only have a minimal schedule at the moment so most things happen on the spur of the moment. I´ll wander up into town to buy a few things, and end up spending half the afternoon walking around with one family, or eating with another. I´ve also been knitting with the women´s co-op ladies who are a fun bunch. They tell more dirty jokes then the men (only some of which I understand)!
So that´s all for this week! I´m going to be heading into town soon, so then I can post some pics of life here =)
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The bus ride to my site was gorgous, and I got to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes, gazing out the window and daydreaming. The family that I´m staying with was waiting for the bus and helped me get my stuff unloaded. My living arrangement is really nice, because I have my own house basically with a stove and everything, but the family lives next door. The family is really nice and have been very welcoming and tolerant of my spanish. The guy I´m going to be working with is also really nice as well as other people I´ve meet in town. The volunteer that has been here for the past 3 years is much loved in the community so they´re excited to have another one. This is also kind of nerve-wracking as I have a lot to live up to.
The bad news here is that the internet is really slow and expensive so I probably won´t be updating that often, or sending many emails. The nearest big town is a 3-4 hour bus ride away and I´ll probably be going there once a month or so. I also can´t really upload pictures here either so that will have to wait until I go into town. The cell phone that they gave us only works if I climb the hill behind my house, so I can´t get incoming calls which is too bad since I can´t call out to the states. Oh well, the price I pay for being in a beautiful, tranquilo site!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Things should get a bit more exciting this afternoon, as we have a self defense lesson where I can get my inner-ninja on. Then tommorrow is the formal swearing in ceremony, followed by the not so formal party bus tour around Quito. We've also gotten our new addresses. Mine is now:
Cuerpo de Paz
My next post will probably be from my site!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
As far as the productive stuff we´ve been doing, we´ve studied cacao and banana production, as well as doing some interpersonal/active listening seminars (boring, plus I dislike that stuff anyway). The people in charge love to play those silly ice-breaker/team building games which I can´t stand. I´ve also learned a lot about terracing and planting things on a slope. Of course we did all that sort of digging stuff on the hottest, humidest day so we were all sweating buckets. Luckily we always have the pool to look forward too. I´m about ready to head back up the mountains, which some of us are doing tommorrow (we´re splitting into groups based on what region your site is in). I´ll let you all know how that trip goes next weekend, as well as get some pictures up since I didn´t bring my connector thingy with me. ¡Adios!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Colors - an interesting history of dyes, I know it sounds weird but it was really quite fascinating even if one isn´t an artist
Killing Pablo - the story of Pablo Escobar and the hunt to find him. He was a notorious Colombian drug kingpin in the 80s. this is not a really a fun read but sometimes it´s good to learn about these sorts of things
Feast of the Goat - historical nonfiction about Trujillo, the infamous dictator in the Dominican Republic during the first part of last century. if anyone has read In the Time of the Butterflies, it´s the same era.
Three Cups of Tea - story of a mountain climber who promises to build schools in rural Pakistan. very inspirational!
Don´t Stuff Your Dog - Alan Alda´s (Hawkeye in MASH) autobiography. Very funny!
Nature Girl - Carl Hiassen´s latest book. funny, but not my favorite of his
Plus I finally managed to finish reading Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe en español (which I´m very excited about) and have now moved on to harry potter. My host family thinks I´m very strange for reading all the time. People don´t seem to read a lot down here, and there are no bookstores anywhere (or even newspapers/magazines). One of our cultural speakers touched on the topic, and she said this was due to the Catholic church´s influence when this area was colonized. At the time the church wasn´t into letting people read, as then they could read the bible and have their own ideas about God, whereas the US was colonized by protestants who believed it to be very important to read the bible. So apparently this apathy towards reading has carried over into today. I´m not sure how accurate this theory is, but it sounds plausible to me.
This Saturday I´m looking forward to being warmer and going swimming when we get into the more temperate zone. I´m not sure if I´ll have internet access, so this might be my last post for the next week or two. Happy Easter!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
In other food news, thanks to all of you who offered to send cheerios but it definitely wouldn´t make it through customs. My breakfast usually includes yogurt, bread, tea, and hot chocolate. The yogurt, tea and hot chocolate are things I never liked in the states but are growing on me now. Especially the yogurt since it´s supper fresh as it´s made in my town. But if anyone comes to visit and has room in their bag, they can always bring cheerios =)
So today was the big palm sunday service which was interesting. It started with everyone meeting at the volleyball courts to walk to the church with their branches. A lot of people brought roses which added some color to the procession. In case you were wondering roses are dirt cheap around here because all the roses you buy in the states come from here (people were shocked at how expensive they are int the states). Anyway, I digress. So we walked to the church, with everyone singing and then there was the regular service. My host dad asked me if the service was long for me (it was about 2 hours), but I told him after the vigilia in Costa Rica nothing seemed long.
So that´s been all the excitement this weekend. I´m happy as I did laundry and the rain held of long enough for all my stuff to dry =)
Thursday, March 13, 2008
One unforseen devolopment to the training is that now we are not going to visit our sites next week. The original plan was that everyone was going to split up and visit their sites for a week, then we were all going to meet up at this other spot for more training, and then during the third week we´d have area specific training (coast, mountains, amazon). However due to all the flooding the powers that be don´t want to risk sending us all of in different directions, so we´re going to be staying where we are (at least for next week). I was looking forward to seeing my site, which makes this kind of a bummer, but I´ll have 2 yrs to see it so it´s all good.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
This weekend some of us went to this really neat bee workshop about an hour from here. They actually use killer bees for honey here because that´s the only kind they have. The bees are actually relatively docile as long as you mantain the hive. They´re also a lot more hardy and there aren´t problems in Ecuador like there are in the US with the colony collapse. We got to put on masks and watch them up close working with the bees. It took a fair amount of self control just to stand there while the bees were all buzzing around, when all you really wanted to do was swat and run away. Another interesting note is that by getting people excited about bees in Ecuador you can also get them excited about reforestation. Saving habitat for bees to get nectar is more of an incentive to stop deforestation than all the traditional reasons. I guess people really like their honey down here.
Another lesson learned this week was to never, ever have a large package sent. I went with my language group to Quito because we had to do some stuff at the bank and also one person had a large package. First we went to one post office, only to find that her package was at another one cross town. We got to that one and found out there are about 100 steps to retriving the package. First you have to give them copies of your identification, then you have to pay for them to process that, after which they take you in the back to look in your package and decide how much the tax on it is. After that they send you to two different places to pay the tax (which can be anywhere from 3 to 30 dollars), then you can come back and get your package. Ahh, the joys of bureaucracies.