Monday, March 30, 2009

Election time

So we're heading into the local election season here in Ecuador. There's still a month left, but things are getting pretty busy. There's been a couple visits from candidates here in town and everywhere there are posters and signs. It seems like whichever party you support will come to your house and put up signs and even paint the side of your house. I meant to get a photo of the side of my house all decorated but didn't get around to it before coming into town. Luckily the party my host family supports is the Pachakutik (I think I spelled that right) party which means "rainbow" in Kichwa. So the side of my house has a very pretty rainbow painted on. It's the party supported by a lot of the indigenous people here. One thing I noticed is that pretty much every house has a sign supporting one candidate or another which begs the question, who are they trying to convince to vote for their party? I mean if everyone in town is already supporting a party then who is left to try to convince? I don't know if I mentioned this fact before in my blog, but when you vote you have to go to wherever you got your cedula (gov't issued ID). This means that a lot of people have to travel since most people get their cedula where they were born and then never change the address (I don't know if it's hard to get it changed or why they don't bother). A lot of people from my town have moved to the coast or various cities, so they all have to come back to vote. Plus voting is required or else you can't get a loan or any sort of gov't help (social services etc.). You can get around it if you pay $50 but most people don't have that kind of cash laying around. Well I hope you enjoyed my voting in ecuador 101 essay. =)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

slow weeks

So not much new going on here. I finally finished reading all the Harry Potter books in spanish, it only took me a year =) This isn't really much of an accomplishment, since I already knew the story so if there were parts I couldn't understand I just skimmed over them. When I started out reading I was good and looked up all the words I didn't know but then I started getting lazy.
It's dried up a bit here which is nice. My clothes are all nice and dry, always a plus. The roads are a lot more manageable too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Flag day and more bus woes

It's definitely the season for bus adventures. When I was coming back from town the last time there was a pretty bad mudslide. My bus was one of the first to arrive after it happened but as you can tell from the pictures it got pretty backed up with cars and people. A tractor came to try and help, but it didn't have any shoveling attatchments. All it did was drive back and forth over the slide to try and smooth it over a bit. No one had any tools in their cars either so not much could be done. One of the buses decided to gun it and try to make it over, but that failed spectacularly. So now instead of there just being a mudslide, there was now a mudslide with a bus stuck in it. They tried tying the stuck bus to another bus to pull it out. I don't know how long it took to get the bus unstuck because at this point there was a bus on the other side of the slide that was turning around and heading towards my town. A couple of other people and I traversed the slide and hopped on that bus. Unfortunately that only got us halfway home because that bus was only going to the next town. Luckily there was a group of french tourists going my way so we rented a truck and I got home only 3 hours after I was supposed to. The bus I was originally on arrived maybe two hours after I did. So I didn't save that much time but how was I to know? Sometimes the slides don't get cleared for a day or two. The kids that go to high school in the larger town an hour away have had two "mudslide" days off from school when the road was blocked. It's interesting the difference in travel problems between here and the states. At home you just have to worry about stop and go traffic, but rarely is the road totally impassable (and even if it is there are usually detours). Here I've never been in a bad traffic jam, but when the road is blocked there isn't anything you can do or any other route around it.
The other pics are from the swearing to the flag day at the primary school. Feb 27th is the anniversary of the Battle of Tarqui when Ecuador won its independence from Gran Colombia. On this day the oldest grade all have to come forward one by one and take an oath and kiss the flag. The other grades go forward as a class and say something akin to our pledge of allegiance. It's all very regimented and militarisitc. The youngest kids got to sit down on the steps but all the other kids had to stand at attention for about 2 1/2 hours through all the speeches. I don't know how they did it cause at that age I would have had troubles. I had brought a magazine with me which the little kids enjoyed. Only 5 years old and already reading New Scientist! =)