Sunday, December 21, 2008

¡Feliz Navidad!

Christmas is in full swing down here on the equator...and with this heat I hardly even noticed the holiday season was in effect. There are some Christmas lights and trees scattered throughout Yantzaza but I never realized how much I associate the holidays with the weather...until now, where I live in eternal summer.

This past week I have been ridiculously busy. I have been preparing for the VAN FAM to land in Ecuador (Tuesday they get down to my neck of the woods!!) and also preparing for this charla my Dad and I are going to give. Funny, I know. But we´re going to make a ¨gringo day¨ for the doctors on the 29th; he´ll talk about healthcare in the US and I am going to give a schpeal on PR in health. Should be interesting!! They are even making invitations and diplomas for those who attend!

So I was busy with that earlier in the week and then the past three days I´ve been busy with FODI going to all of the communities and handing out toys and caramelos to the kids. We managed to stuff almost 500 bags of candy, which is tradition to give to children down here. They stuff bags with animal crackers, chocolate bars, candies, toffees, wafer cookies...the works. I was thinking that I wished we got these instead back in the´s kind of like a Christmas version of Halloween. But it was great seeing the kids all excited, the Alcalde (mayor) handed out the toys---dolls for girls and a truck for the boys (how stereotypical...)

Friday we were in one of my favorite communities, San Pablo, and they were all excited because the Christmas Princess elections were that night, followed by a big dance. I was stoked too, I was in the mood for some dancin´....So I get all dolled up, even wear a dress and attempt to straighten my hair, even though it got ridiculous as soon as I stepped outside. So I get on the bus and it starts jungle downpour. When I arrived at the baile, there wasn´t any electricity! There wasn´t any in the whole canton, nor in I waited it out and left after 45 minutes (after it flashed on and then off for like 10 minutes). So sad, the princesses were so cute :-(

Yesterday we went to three communities and therefore had to eat THREE almuerzos...three chicken soups and three plates FULL of rice with chicken. I had to take a walk when I came back, I was so full. Even thinking about rice makes me wanna barf...they are so generous with their food here and with our presentation of gifts came MAD presentation of we had to eat everything. Towards the end, the FODI girls were putting the food in fundas or doggie bags and taking it home with them.

Oh and the last community, San Francisco, a largely Saraguro Kichwa community, busted out the leche de tigre...which I don´t know if I´ve metioned this already, but it´s gross. It´s basically warm milk with liquor. Echh. And I had to serve it, which means I went around the room, poured everyone a shot and with each shot they took, I had to take one too. Yummy! And on a completely full stomach too...but I did get a little happy as they like to say down here. So it wasn´t half bad.

It´s been great celebrating Christmas with everyone down here and witnessing their ways of celebration. Nativity scenes, by the way, are a staple in every home/school/FODI center...they out a lot of emphasis on the well they should since that is what Christmas is about. (And I think our consumerism tends to make us forget that...)

Thank you all for those who have sent Christmas/Holiday gifts and wishes. I really appreciate all of your thoughts and I wish you all very merry holidays. The fam´s gonna be here in 2 days!!! Can´t wait!! I probably won´t write until after they leave, since we´ll be busy exploring. That will be an interesting blog posting...

Feliz Navidad and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I´m becoming so handy!

Well I finally fixed my camera! Just put a little scotch tape here, a little there...and wham! I´ve realized that I need to stop thinking everything is OMG! MY CAMERA IS BROKEN! Well, Corrie, why don´t you try to fix it? Like my toilet, when I first moved in. It wasn´t working and I was like freaking out and I didn´t want to bug my landlady. But I got the cajones to go out and buy a plunger and actually fix the toilet myself. And what do ya know...the dang thing works! Anyway, I´m taking this third world opportunity to become more handy. Everyone else here is a Juan of All Trades, so why can´t I be a Juanita?

As promised, here are pics of the new pad!

Here is the bedroom...with my AWESOME GRINGA BED! Note the pillows, I sewed them, thank you very much. Gotta have props to my Terps (hence the blanket) and my wall of fame.

My cocina. A little unorganized, but it´s getting there. Have to light my stove everytime I use it, and yes, I am cooking. Note the nice curtain, which I sewed as well, leads to the bathroom.

Last but not least, my sala. This is basically my living room/party room/kitchen/reading room in one. I am faltar-ing a table, but I have 6 of these stump chairs which are awesome. I want to have every visitor sign them, too. SO COME VISIT! That ¨window¨ looks into my bedroom, but the door and other window is to the right. On the first floor, so it´s quite convenient.

Met my little neighbor boys, they´re really cool. Elvis and Carlos...and then there is they baby who they refer to as papito so not sure of his real name. Everyone is really nice though and my landlady has my espalda.

This weekend I had the great opportunity of judging a Christmas Princess contest in a Shuar community. The whole day we were up in Tuntiak, one of the FODI communities, celebrating Christmas with them. In the morning, there was a soccer competition...the FODI women versus the moms. I was by far the biggest person playing, of course, and I am not good at soccer. But I thought I would have at least some sort of advantage with these women. So wrong. They were so strong and tough, oh man I was afraid I was going to hurt them but towards the end I was more afraid they were going to hurt me! So many times I wanted to yank those long, black Shuar ponytails but I had to keep my cool. We lost horribly...I had more attempts than any FODI girl, but we lost 2-0. It was kinda embarassing.

Someone asked what the gringa was doing here and someone responded ¨Oh, ella es de otra planeta.¨ ( She is from another planet...) Gee thanks, guys.

We rushed back to Zumbi to shower and eat some merienda. Man, I was sweaty! We played at like 12:30 in a completely open cancha....ridiculous heat.

After beautifying, we hurried back up to Tuntiak so that we could have to princess competition. I was so excited, but nervous. The girls were adorable...4 and 5 years old. We had to judge them on traditional Shuar dance, bathing suit, evening gown and Christmas message. adorable! Half of them chickened out too!

After I crowned the princess, yes, I crowned her because I had to buy the crown, there was a big baile. It was probably the best baile that I´ve been too. Danced until 2 am and then trekked home. GREAT FIESTA!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thank Jesús.... del Gran Poder!

DIOS MIO! I am in my apartment! Woo hoo! It´s been a long wait, but well worth it.

The barrio I live in, Jesús del Gran Poder (lit. Jesus of the Greatest Power) is up the hill from the center of town, super close, and really chill. There are many amazing things about this apartment. Of them:
-I don´t have to use a flashlight when I have to pee at night; my bathroom is IN my apartment
-I can cook without Polivio bugging me about ¨gringo food¨
-I don´t wake up to Aventura or the next-door neighbor karoaking at 5 am
-I can decorate what I want and where I want
And the best part goes to....
NO MORE CROSSING THE BRIDGE! I am sad to say, Mr. Puente, I will not be crossing you anymore and no more will I have to say the Hail Mary 30 times while crossing it.

It´s super cute, got all my pictures up, got my cocina running and my gas all hooked up. I even sewed! Super proud of myself, I sewed a curtain for my bathroom and two pillows! It took me all afternoon yesterday, but I had nothin better to do. Considering I had to re-teach myself what I learned from Mrs. Cindy Light in 7th grade in Home Economics, I did a pretty good job.

Last week we had an intercambio with the FODI in the province of Bolívar in Salinas de Guaranda. My best friend from training, Miriam, is there so we got to hang out a little bit. Her site is cold! It really made me appreciate the amazon! I had to go to Quito beforehand because I lost my cell phone and then take 3 more buses to Guaranda...I spent more time in the bus than I did walking around (At least 20 hours in a bus that day...) But I got my phone and made it just in time for karoake with the FODI girls. It was ridiculous! Miriam and I blasted out Stevie Wonder´s I Just Called to Say I Love You and got a standing ovation. It was horrible.

But they love their karoke here....

So I missed all of the intercambio-ness due to my side trip to Quito. But I made it for karoke, bonding, and cheese and chocolate tasting. It was an expensive trip, but well worth the bonding experience and the memories.

PS: Pictures of the apt. to camera is on the fritz...