March 2012 Archives

Live from Cariacu, Ecuador!

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Interesting things that have happened in my first few days here include-

- there is an ostrich across the road from my house

- started my internship where I work from 8ish to whenever we run out of things to do

- went on a 'visit' with a social worker and got to see her calmly ask our to pry a door out its hinges so we could reclaim a little girl's clothes as we moved her to a safer home

- woke up at 2:30AM this morning to help my new host family butcher 70ish chickens

- had my first 'real' salad here (real by American standards- it wasn't cooked any way!)


My New Host Family-

Gabriel- My host dad is a professor by trade, he teaches day and night classes on the subject of solidarity economy model. So his students usually are interested in forming cooperatives or other community enterprises. He is also very socially and politically active, his lived in Cariacu his whole and has served on all sorts of boards and committees, including currently one focused on stopping alcohol and drug abuse in children and teens. I haven't really seen him for half the week because he's attending a huge protest against government mining policy in Quito.

Isabel- My host mom is definitely the heart of the family. She basically runs the farm herself (the business and production parts) and therefore is constantly working. She milks cows, single handily kills 70 some chicken and makes almost all our meals and her work isn't halfway done. She loves having students at the house so talking with her is always super easy. She's also really connected to her indigenous heritage and practices traditional medicine and teaches Quichawa.

Katty- My 19-year-old sister is pretty quiet and reserved. I found out yesterday that she is roughly 8 months pregnant (it doesn't show), thankfully my awkwardness in responding to this news was blamed on my poor Spanish skills. As I understand it, while the father of the baby is completely out of the picture Katty is still planning to attend a small private university in Quito to study agriculture in the fall. Til then she helps Isabel out in all the never-ending farm work.

Sumac- My 14-year old brother is even more shy than his sister, but once you get to know him he's quite the comedian. He plays guitar very well and like Katty he assists in almost all the farm work. He also seems to have a very active social life in Cayambe, playing on a school soccer team among other things so he tends to get home rather late.

Don Pedro- While not part of my host family by blood, Isabel says he's like a father to her and he helps out in all manner of ways around the farm. Him and Isabel are a good team when it comes to things like butchering chickens or doing things with traditional herbs. He loves talking politics and negotiating business deals

Chloe- My fellow host student hails from southern France. She is in her 3rd year of university and works with me at the INFA Center. Sometimes we have the same job and days we do completely different things, but it seems like usually we'll be able to go to lunch together. It's also very nice that Chloe has lived here for at least month and is more than happy to show me around Cayambe. We are at about the same level of Spanish so when we talk to each other understanding usually isn't an issue.

Adelaine- My other fellow host student is also from France. She's in her final year of university and speaks excellent Spanish after having lived in South America for 9 months. She's like a cool older sister or cousin to Chloe and I and works at another INFA center in a town 20minutes from Cayambe.

To sun up quick- I really like my new host family. They a little more hands off then my last family, possibly because we students actually sleep in a separate building. I am very glad there are other students here with me so I have someone to share weird cultural observations and it's super nice to have Chloe as my instant work friend. Plus since English is a second language for them it's way easier for all of us to only speak Spanish to each other. Stay tuned for sometime in the coming week for a better explanation of what my new home And job

Winter Break and Beyond

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3/17/12

I can't believe it's St. Patricks already! I celebrated a bit tonight with my programates for one last hurrah in Quito before we all divide out Monday to go to our internships. But before I brief you on what's in store for me in the next several weeks I need to fill you in on my winter break!

Winter Break

Last Friday (the 9th) I set off for the lovely historic city of Cuenca, in the south of Ecuador. Two of my friends and I paid $10 to bus the 10hrs there over night, but the adventure began when the bus arrived at our destination at 4 AM, a full 2 HOURS earlier than expected. We proceeded to approach an equally confused gringo, who agreed to split a cab with us to a cheap hostal. When we at there it was discovered like in the Christmas story there was 'no room for us in the inn', so the 4 of us chose to catch a few hours sleep on the lobby floor. We all ended up staying at a cheap more centrally located hostal (with the exact same name) and spent the day exploring the city with our new friend, Mantus, of Lithowainia. There were at one point 9 students from my program in Cuenca through Wednesday. We saw lots of cool museums, ate an insane amount of good food, visited some Incan ruins and a really cute town outside of the city, observed some weird llama behavior and generally wandered the city. There were plently of American and other foreign retirees, so we heard a lot of English and overall the city felt really calm and safe (we never really located a nightlife for young folks haha). We met all sorts of interesting travelers and residents including, some austrailians, who run a small café, some retirees from Texas and an English woman, who's been traveling the world volunteering for the last year.


On Tuesday night four of us hopped another night (and another and another) to get from Cuenca to the costal city of Puerto Lopez. While on the coast of Ecuador it is currently 'low' tourist season we were able to get halfway decent acomedations in a hostal with oven like rooms. They even came with such ammendities as a single 'high velocity air circulator' (aka ineffective ceiling fan) and a fancy mosquito net canopy for each bed. On our first day on the coast we got to spend the afternoon on the most beautiful beach I have Ever been to or seen, called Los Frialles. It was like walking through a postcard! We also took a tour to Isla de la Plate, which is know here as, the poor man's Galopoges. Here we hiked bit on the nice island and saw insane anmounts of Blue Footed Boobies and saw some Huge sea turtles. Other fun coastal activies included treating myself to excellent sea food, bathing in a scared sulpher pool after covering myself in sulfer mud, and successfully getting tan on the beach! Got back to Quito at 6AM this morning after yet another nightbus. Though this one came with a very serious "bus nazi" who insisted on making everyone move seats to match the numbers on our tickets (very unEcuatorina) even though the physical seats had no numbers haha.

Future

On Monday I begin the internship portion of my program, in the small town of Cayambe. I have no more classes and I will instead observe and work with a psychologist in a government organization called, INFA (Institute for Ninez,, adolescencia and familiar affairs). I will be living with an indigeous family in a smaller village out Cayambe. I'll have a mother, a father (who's appartently important in the community), a 19 yr old sister anda 14 yr old brother. With hours for 8am to 4pm. I hope to have time to run on a regular basis and I also get to work on writing a +20 pg pager about the work I'm doing for INFA, called my monografia. I hope to uset this beast of a paper to get credit in Spanihs or Psych at Morris, but we shall see. I return to Quito to live with my old family after 6 weeks for one more week of frantically attempting to finish this paper and then present it to my classmates and professors. Then I get on the plane the next day to go home. Time has already gone SOOOOOOOOOOOOO fast here. But because of all this updates here may be less frequent. Just so you know haha.

3/7/12

-had my first 'unsupervised' weekend trip
-wandered the charming tourist town of Baños
-had one of the best veggie burger I've Ever eaten
-sat next to an Ecuadorian clone of Joseph Gordon Leveit on the most ridiculous bus I've ever seen. It had neon lights everywhere and played really loud club like music
-biked roughly 25 miles in the mountains- SO fun
- visited a huge water fall called puntal de Diablo
-visited the town of Shell- If you've seen the movie "The end of the spear" the missionaries are based out of this little town with an airstrip
-had my last program trip and it was hands down the best one
-saw the ash cloud from a volcanic eruption(was safely on a different mountain promise)
-stayed the night in a farmers house and was served an absolutely delious breakfast
-I finally broke my streak of perfect health here by throwing up said breakfast :P
-visited a school for young carpenters and saw how they make the solidarity economic model work
-brought my first book here (yes it's in English don't judge)

Food and dining

I realized that while I been in Quito for over 6 weeks (SO crazy), I haven't actually taken the time to discuss one of the most important activities in my day- Eating! According to one of my professors food is second only to family, as a favorite thing for Ecuadorians to talk about. So I'm not being snarky when I say they take food very seriously here. Though in my home there isn't a ton of variety in meals, all the food I've eaten here is of excellent quality. I begin each day with a large breakfast by US standards. There's an egg, a bread roll, instant coffee in warm milk and often, fresh juice. Most days my hostmom joins me for breakfast and I usually get to cook my own egg, which is a small thing, but it's really nice to have control over my food every now and then. I usually do the breakfast dishes by myself since Gemma needs time to put on her face haha. Lunch is the one meal where I am expected to completely fend for myself and there a few different options available to me- I can buy the fixings to make my own salad or sandwich in the school kitchen or go out to lunch at one of the little restaurants near school. The first of these choices is fun because there's lots of room to experiment and if I don't actually want to prepare something two rolls of bread filled with cheese are only 40 cents. Unfortunately when it comes to being economically minded it's really hard to turn down going out for lunch because for $1.50 you can get a TWO course meal- soup and a plate of rice, meat and veggies. Thus I tend to choose the second option, as it is more food for less work, but occasionally I create exciting experimental mango, onion and avocado salads. For supper my host mom and I eat the same meal that my sisters have for lunch, so it's more soup and rice with meat and a salad of some sort. I've prepared my own supper a few times out of necessity, but most days Gemma prefers to do it herself. My sisters only join my hostmom and I about half the time for dinner, depending on how late they eat lunch, and how early we eat. Now for my favorite part of eating here, the deserts!!! I've had so many great pastries, including chimboyaso (spelled that how it sounds...), which is basically orange flavored corn bread/cake wrapped in a cornhusk. These are sent via my host cousin from my host grandma, who lives 3 hrs away, for the whole family to enjoy. There is also a bakery near school that makes this fantastic creation that involves a wonderful creamy caramel spread sandwiched between two cookies that are covered in powdered sugar and coconut. But the Very Best thing I have eaten here is, hands down, the frozen chocolate covered bananas that cost 10 CENTS. While of the subject of food I'd like to proudly say that I made chocolate chip cookies at 9000 ft the other day, which was a blast and they even turned out to be quite delicious.

2/25/12

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I know I didn't update that long ago, but through some less than fortunate circumstances I'm trapped alone in my house tonight. I was theoretically supposed to work with my group on our essay tonight, or at least I assumed we would get together to work today because to me it seems dumb to try to do it ALL the day before it's due. But the plans fell through because my group never got back to me and I had no way of contacting them since I'm out of minutes and the internet at my house was down. What really sucked about this scenario was that I missed a chance to go out with my family because we all assumed I would be working on this essay. But I figure I might as well put the time to use and also it's probably good for anyone thinking of going abroad to know that sometimes stuff like this happens. Plus I'm sure you'd love to hear how I entertained myself during a night in here in Quito.

Basically I got a whole new sampling of Ecuadorian tv haha

-New favorite telenovela is specifically for women and dealt with the issue of drumroll please psychological pregnancy haha!!! What women couldn't identify with that??

-Catwomen is hands down the worst possible "superhero" movie I've ever suffered through15 minutes of and I think the Spanish made it more bareable

-Enjoyed almost all of The Goonies., which just as good in espanol. Loved the hairstyles!

- Still don't know if 'Riverworld' is a really weird movie or a crazy LOST like tv show...

Other things I during this very short week

-Changed the location of my internship (I'm going to be in an indigenous Morris sized 'metropolis' now!)

-Had a round table style interview with the staff of my future internship

- Learned they are absolutely loco about the last intern they had so I have big shoes to fill

-All my future coworkers seem really open and friendly

-Got a private history lesson from my professor who drove me to my interview

-Helped my family rearrange the living room

-The girls also washed Vicky, our dog AND painted her nails :O (poor poodle haha)

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2012 is the previous archive.

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