Saturday, September 27, 2008

Quito and Referendums

This week was my first time in Quito since our swearing in ceremony 5 months ago. We had a re-connect conference with my training group and our community counterparts. It was a lot of fun catching up with everyone again. People generally seemed to be doing well, save for some health issues in the coastal areas (thank goodness I'm in the mountains). The meetings themselves were very boring and mostly common sense. They were mostly about how to plan and implement projects in your community which most of us are already doing. Plus we had a talk on culture shock which was a few months late in my opinion. I just brought a book to all the meetings so I was occupied. I'm known as the bookworm of the group and people were laughing that I was sitting in the back reading (some habits don't change).
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.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

I'm certainly glad you're in ecuador rather than bolivia then. i've heard stories about the dangers of the Peace Corps, and i'm glad you're in a safe spot. love.