Sunday, June 29, 2008

Party animal

I’m still somewhat adjusting to latin time. For example yesterday there was supposed to be an all day party/festival in town. So I wandered up around lunchtime to see if anything was happening, but nothing was going on yet. So I waited and helped my host mom sell fried pig (we had butchered it the day before). More and more people were gathering in the square but still no party. The party ended up getting started around 6:00 pm, only 7 hrs after it was supposed to. One of the attractions was a giant telephone pole slathered in grease with prizes at the top that all the boys were trying to climb (they eventually managed to get the prizes). Then there was the traditional dancing and drinking that tipifies most fiestas here. People make fun of me cause I usually don’t stay that long. I try, but most of the time it’s too late for me.
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

good teas

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 cafĂ© 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

summer days

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

Enjoying the view

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

oddles of zuccini

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 Ecuador, I better get to baking bread =)