Saturday, February 28, 2009

The sinnin´ is over, ladies and gents

After a month of pure sin and craziness, Yantzaza has finally calmed down. I am very sad to see the fiestas, Carnival, and wackiness all come to an end. It was awesome to be a part of all the activities and be able to participate like one of the locals. My neighbor Rosario absolutely drenched me on the last day of Carnival. I was washing my clothes and she comes out with a bucket and pours water all over me, then takes my laundry soap and begins scrubbing me! It was so funny, I totally retaliated with like 6 water balloons and a pot full of water.

Thursday was the last hoorah for fiestas. They just built a new bus terminal and hosted a dance and concert at its inauguration. It´s really pretty and had a great ¨arena¨ for dancing. All day Thursday it absolutely poured, so I was happy to see Dios was looking out for the people of Yantzaza and there wasn´t any rain.

I went with my friends from Zamora, from the Ministry of Health, and danced like crazy with Rumi and Nelson, a Kichwa doctor and little Shuar man. It was a blast and they were very patient with me, as I am still trying to get the kinks out of my Ecua-dancing. I even busted out my tacos, or high heels, which aren´t really high but I could see over the whole crowd. We danced to this Colombian band until 4 am and then went on a late night run for pinchos aka street meat on a stick, with one of my admirers, Panelita, on his moto. Great way to end the fiestas.

Yesterday the Ministry of Health hosted a health fair because the Minister of Health was coming to Yantzaza with the President of Ecuador. Hung out in the sun all day and then went to La Bombonera, the province´s only artificial turf soccer field, owned by one of the dentists we work with. That was cool to watch all the guys play soccer. They all seem fat and slow, drink a lot of beer and smoke a lot of cigarrettes, but once they put on their beat up Reeboks, man those boys can play. Some better than others of course, but it definitely helped prove my theory that all Latinos are born knowing how to play soccer.

Then this morning I got a call from Chris, asking me whether or not President Correa was in Yantzaza. So I went down to the park, and sure enough, he was in one of the schools, having one of his open forums. I got to see the president of Ecuador! And I haven´t even seen an American president yet. But it was cool; he basically answered questions and talked about new policies while it was broadcasted on television. He travels to different parts of the country once a month to do these open forums but it was really cool to see Zamora Chinchipe finally getting some props. Chris and I agreed that a lot of people forget us all the way down here. Correa is a very dynamic speaker and great to see him en vivo. The people really love him down here (the majority at least) and its really exciting to see people get so involved with politics and their patria.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Carnaval is in full swing!

Before I get started, I´ll give a little background since a lot of people have been asking about it. Basically, it´s the three day fiesta before Ash Wednesday and it involves just soaking every person in sight, whether they want to or not. You can soak with water balloons, water guns, buckets, silly string, anything is game. It´s actually a blast because old people get in to it too and everything is fair game and no one really gets mad.

Chris and I went to Vilcabamba for a night to de-stress after the doctors left and they were getting all ready...soaking us as we walked by. Then yesterday, when I was walking through Loja, this one military guy was whistling at me...I totally ignored him. Later on I met up with my friend, many of you may know him as ¨The Doctor¨, well I walked by the same guy with him and he totally soaked me with a water gun. Guess I should have flashed him my gringa smile....

Today I met up with my friend from work, Clara, in Zumbi where she lives. Her family invited me over for this awesome lunch and then we went to this new pool the municipio built. It rained like gatos and perros the whole afternoon and when it finally stopped we went over. They apparently just inaugarated the pool yesterday; it has a big blue waterslide like the Evendale pool! I went down it a couple definitely lacked water and those 10 layers of shalack that help make you speed down. So once I got to the bottom I had to push myself with my Ecua.

The pool was great, though; they normally swim in this river next to the pool, but it has been really contaminated with this construction of the road they have been doing. So it´s pure mud now. I was pretty much the only person in the whole pool who could stand in the ¨deep end¨...hilarious.

Tomorrow are the 4X4 races up the road, so I´m going to try and hit those up if it´s not raining too hard.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I´m a translatin´

So Chris and I´ve been translating for this group of doctors that came down from Washington State to give medical treatment to 4 communities down here. There are 13 of us; about 4 translators and the rest doctors. Some doctors speak spanish already, but actually Chris and I are the only ¨non medical professionals¨ on the trip. They are all nurses or nurse practioners, or master´s students to be nurse practitioners and are receiving credit for their time and work down here. It´s been really great, a great learning experience. Extremely stressful at times, and most of all---tiring. I have been so exhausted, I think the most tired I have been here. Thursday, the first day, we translated for about 5 hours straight and Chris said he has spoken about a week´s worth of Spanish in that time. I have gotten a lot faster with my speech, which has been great, and brushed up on some vocab that I have forgotten or didn´t know (bichos=parasites, pasar la saliva= swallow, cera=ear wax....)

Saturday was a crazy day and I was about to go nuts towards the end...we saw, between about 6 of us, 197 people. It was ridiculous. But really rewarding. Yesterday we saw 145 people in another community and I was pretty cranky all day because I was just really tired and every single person had the same problem: headache, lower back pain, and stomach ache. So I was like I know what you are going to say, when they sat down. After a while, I felt that people were just coming because a) it was only a dollar for the consult and medicine b) it was something to do c)they all think they have graver problems than they do.

But last night we had this amazing farewell dinner (we moved to a new group of communities today) of tilapia and ancas de rana, or fish legs. It was SO good...I was a million times better after this meal. And then they took us to the city hall, gave a little speech about how appreciative they were of our services and how much these communities needed our help, etc. Anyway, as I was translating, Rita, one of the nurses started tearing up and I realized at that point how much of a good thing we were doing. They all presented us with these ridiculous Ecua-necklaces the women´s group made, so we were all walking around with jazzy dangle earrings and large necklaces. The two guys got necklaces for their novias.

Today was a lot calmer, a lot less people and overwhelming, which was great cuz I needed a break. I really do enjoy translating and I think I´m pretty good at it. I´ve always had a knack for shmoozing people and I´ve quickly mastered that in Spanish, as well. Only seen a couple of gross stuff overall: a badly infected bug bite, a burn from a motorcycle exhaust pipe, one kid fell off a roof 8 days ago and had broken his ribs and his lung was punctered. The air that was escaping his lung was making a bubble pretty much in his back, so they rushed him off to the hospital, poor guy. And the worst was yesterday a mom, who was mentally retarded and victim of rape, had her child who was completely bitten with bugs and scabies and sores (she doesn´t know how to take care of him...). They had to clean a bunch of sores and give it some antibiotic shots. Pretty incredible, but these medicines they are giving the people are also incredible. It really makes you appreciate the health system we have.

Well we are in El Pangui, the county above Yantzaza, today and tomorrow and then we go to Yantzaza for two days and then it´s over. I´m not sure if I could handle another week of this, so it´s going to be nice to have it come to an end. I´ve really enjoyed talking with the other nurses and getting to know them. For the majority of them, this is their first time doing something like this, but they all have a lot of experience so I´m learning a lot about nursing and medicines and whatnot. Plus, it´s been cool teaching them stuff about what I have learned here, about the culture, the language, the communities, etc.

Sometimes they have been driving Chris and I nuts; like just now we quietly slipped away to go to the internet to write and de-translate. But things are just so natural for us, that these new and exciting things for them are not so new and exciting for us.

OH and fiestas finally started in Yantzaza. On Friday I snuck out of translating early to go see the Beauty Queen competition. It was great. I treated my neighbors to the competition, Rosario didn´t have enough money and I was like YOU HAVE TO GO! So she got all dressed up, along with the boys, and they got in for free. It was great night...didn´t rain! First time in weeks! The girls were mighty sexy, and the girl from our barrio, Jesus del Gran Poder, was the hottest I thought. Surprisingly enough. So we waited until 3 AM to see who won, but the results were still not being shared, too many musical acts, so I left because I had to wake up and translate 5 hours later. Still don´t know who won, but will update you guys on that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Being sick in another country sucks

Eck. I´m sick. And I never realized before that being sick in another country would only double your sickness, in a way. I´ve had a really bad head cold with cough and fever for the past two days, unable to go to work, and without anyone to take care of me:-(

I know, I know...I must sound like a baby. But when I was in college, at least I could call my mom to complain to her...or have my roommates around to run to Walgreens to get me Nyquil and Gatorade. Now I have to rely on Corrie. One never thinks about these things before leaving to another country, but it does make a difference. But I was able to rummage through my things and find some lost cold pills and thankfully the Peace Corps medical kit had some cough drops.

But then yesterday, after laying in bed all day, I went outside because the rain was just so pretty, I couldn´t help but look at it (ok...maybe I had taken one too many cold pills...). But as I was sitting there, my neighbor Rosario was like ¨Corrriii?! Estas enferma?!?!?¨ Yes, I am sick Rosario. And she started giving me the list of things I needed to do to feel better: blend an orange with brown sugar, boil it, then put in a hard boiled egg along with two chicken´s feet, say three Hail Marys and run a lap around the building. Syke. But she did give me a number of suggestions, as well as my landlady. All of which I had no idea what they were talking about.

Last night Rosario came over with some warm empañadas (mmmm), a cup of monte tea (literally: plants from the mountain), and a mysterious red liquid in a small tin bowl. With the red liquid, she said I had ¨bathe¨ myself in it, to get rid of my fever. So I figured why not, I had nothing to lose and I was willing to try anything at this point. And sure enough, the plants worked! I felt a lot better when I woke up this morning, still have a nasty cough but at least my fever is gone. I am really turning into a believer of traditional medicine with the cures they have just by using plants and natural resources. (I´ve started using this stuff called sangre de dragon or dragon´s blood, which is a special tree sap, to cure my zits!)

Overall, being sick in a foreign country sucks. But I am finding that if you can overcome being sick, and there are a lot worse ways I could be sick, then everything else is a piece of cake.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Returning to my roots...

Well the conference is finally over! It was great seeing everyone, but I was definitely ready to head back to site.

After the conference ended on Friday, me and my friend Miriam headed up to Cayambe to visit our host families from training. I couldn´t believe how long we had been away, time really seems to have flown. We were the only volunteers to return from the group, but it was well worth the trip. As soon as we arrived, we headed over to my family´s flower shop and they were so happy to see us! ¨COORRIII!¨They shouted...I missed how they said my name!

They of course commented on my mild acne, how ¨fea¨ my face was and that it used to be so nice and beautiful...gee thanks, guys. But that´s just how Ecuadorians are...they spit out the truth. But I stayed and chatted it up with them, helped them with some floral arrangements. They were full with work, there had been two major funerals that week, so I helped stick toothpicks in carnations to make arrangements. It was fun though; I really missed them and the ¨family time¨ we had. The girls were SO happy to see me...calling me sister and everything. Saturday we went swimming in the pool of one of the hotels; it was the girls, me, their cousin Domini and the little wawa whose name I can never pronounce. But it was so wonderful spending time with them, telling them stories. Times have fallen pretty hard for them, so I think my visit was well worth it.

Their dog, Bobby, was tragically killed by another dog the night a robber broke into their house. Luckily, they were able to sequester the robber in the bathroom he slid in to and called the police. Said he was ¨drugged¨and ¨from the Coast¨ and he wasn´t able to steal anything. Was released after only 3 days...but the next day they put bars all over their windows and installed a new alarm system. Pretty intense, that was the talk for the whole weekend. The girls were pretty shaken up by it too... They got a new dog though, Dinky....not as cool as Bobby but cést le vie.

But I promised them I would return for fiestas in May, so hopefully I´ll have more time to hang out with them and Fernanda and Gato, the couple that run the pizza place in front of their house.

Saturday night Chris and I met up in Quito and traveled down to Loja where we did Super Bowl with the other volunteers (Boo Steelers).

Had the warmest welcome from my co-workers in Zamora and my neighbors here in Yantzaza. Elvis, my neighbor, came running out and was so happy to see me. He wanted to hear everything that happened....their mom, Rosario, told me the boys missed me a lot and couldn´t wait for me to get home. That was great to hear, as well.

I was so tired, but the trip was well worth it. We celebrated my homecoming by watching Ace Ventura 2, which the boys absolutely loved. It´s one of those movies that can be enjoyed in many langauges. And I guess a man talking out of his butt is something all people find funny...