Thursday, May 20, 2010

Full Circle

Peace Corps decided it was a good idea to send volunteers from three clusters (the Loja, Cuenca and Riobamba clusters) to a Resiliency conference in Cuenca for three days. The idea was to get volunteers together to talk about this, and as I have been working on PCV Resiliency as a side project the other months, I was interested to see what they had to say. However, on the other hand, I was not so anxious as many of these conferences result in me doing many a crossword puzzle...

It was a good trip, in the end. We had two days, when all was said and done, of sessions on how to manage stress, deal with problems in your community, talk to other volunteers, etc. There have been three new groups come in since ours, so A LOT of faces were new to me. And when I introduced myself and said I was from Omnibus 100, almost all the responses were ¨ Wow! You´re almost out of here...¨. It was weird to have people look on us as the veterans, because I remember like it was yesterday getting to site and thinking, wow these people have been here for TWO WHOLE YEARS?! And now I´m that person.

But the groups have a whole new gammet of characters, some mid-career volunteers, Masters International vols, even a transgender volunteer who I got to chat up with. Although I didn´t learn anything, really, about resiliency...I mean, come on...I´ve made it this far, I think I kinda know what I´m doing now. But I did learn a lot about myself and my service which really made me reflect on my past two years. For example, everyone pretty much reaches the same highs and lows throughout their service, but learning how to talk about them and deal with the situations is a real key to resiliency. I was also feeling bad about getting out of here; like maybe I should have signed up for that third year. Every volunteer from my group said they are getting out ASAP so that was reassuring, and interesting because it seems that no one from out group is extending a third year.

After relaxing a little and getting some stuff done in Cuenca (the second hand on my watch fell off and got it fixed for free! along with a zipper on my favorite wallet...I love this country!) I took the bus back through Gualaquiza to get home. Normally I take the bus through Loja, but I decided to go east this time. I wanted to see the drive and there is a new volunteer, Peggy, in Gualaquiza and figured I´d give her some company.

We got to Gualaquiza at 10:30 (only six and a half hour trip) and found out I had just missed the Yantzaza bus by half an hour and the next was at 2 am. So Peggy let me crash on her floor at her host family´s house. We trekked up this hill and as soon as we walked inside, this smell hit me. It was the same smell of the house I had lived in when I first got to Yantzaza, with Dra. Monica. I was instantly flooded with meories and honestly gave me the chills. The light of a forgotten TV flooded the living room as we stumbled over toys and cups and clothes to Peggy´s room. She had a room pretty much the same size as I did; and there was just a bed and armoire. I said she had to blog about her experience with her family...there was just WAY too much material, especially after having been in the bathroom. Inside they had about 7 pairs of ladies underwear hanging alongside the toilet, with baby socks scattered throughout the bathroom. One was on the shower head, so as to prevent the water from going everywhere, one on the sink keeping the bar of soap from flying all over the place. There was even a sign on the back of the door with a list of things you should do to be polite: say good morning, smile, always thank people, etc.

Being at Peggy´s house was a total full circle experience for me. The humidity made it hard for me to sleep, reminding me of those stifling nights below the Barbie-pink mosquito net in Barrio Gran Colombia. The family Peggy lives with owns the building, but on the third floor is one of the local radio stations. So at 3 am last night, I was up to BUENOS DIAS GUALAQUIZA! in the typical latino announcer voice, loud and confident. They also play a song and play/pause it while they are talking, hard to describe but it is extremely annoying and I can never imagine a US radio station doing this. Anyway, that was going on all night. Peggy said she´s getting used to it, but is having family send her earplugs from the States. This is very much like the guy who always decided to sing karaoke at 5 am every Saturday at my old house. But I think she wins me with the radio.

Her host family was nice enough to let me catch a ride with them back to Yantzaza, again making me appreciate how kind and welcoming people are in this country.

Sunday I am departing for Salinas de Guaranda for a tech exchange with my friend Miriam and then we go to our Close of Service conference in Quito! Only two months left!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

RIP Chanchitos

WOOO WEEE! It´s FUNKY in Yantzaza! No, we aren´t jamming beats here in the jungle. We are now running on Day 3 of Life Sin Agua. No water. It has been raining like cats and dogs down here...

Friday night the Rain from Above started. I have never seen so much rain in my life. It continued until last night. Four. Days. Straight. The lack of rain has become an ¨event¨ in the sense that it´s a new reason to sit outside and watch people, gossip about what´s happening, tell people what the should do to catch water, etc.

As we learn in ECUA 101, heavy rains always lead to landslides. We got pegged and now there is no pass to Loja. Three people died yesterday trying to cross. They went by foot since the buses and cars couldn´t pass and got stuck. It´s pretty serious, but today the rain finally ceased and this is the first time in a while I´ve seen the sky. The only major casualties here are three piggies trying to cross a landslide. RIP Chanchitos.

There have been little derrumbos all around the area. Our water got knocked out the mountain above me, and we have been living in Funkytown for three days. Which means no shower, no food, no washing dishes, no flushing toilets. Ughhh. There is a lot I have accustomated to but, sorry, I hate not having water. Waa waa. (The school was rank today because they haven´t been able to clean the bathrooms...)

Anyway, people are walking all over the place today carrying buckets of water. And mud is EVERYWHERE.

I´m not sure if I´ve mentioned Adrian a lot and he´s definitely a character worthwhile mentioning. In the house I live in and across the street, there´s about 6-8 kids that always hang out and play. Delia and Estefany are the ringleaders (the oldest...) and the other kids just run around all the time. Adrian is the son of my landlady. He is a Shuar; his mom left him with her teenage sisters who didn´t take care of him. So Doña Anita took him in, adding to their comfortable family of 4. And what a task he is!

He used to be absolutely horrible. He would run into my apartment, take my stuff, torture Tortilla. Doña Anita started wacking him with a reed, so he got better. But he´s older and isn´t quite as troublesome now.

However these past few months he and I have come to understand each other and I no longer want to catapult him to the other side of Yantzaza. With no water, the kids came over to play and they were all ridiculous. I think cabin fever was really starting to get everybody.

And then Andrian decided to join the party. Woooo...that boy was flipping off of my stump chairs, running and sliding on the floor, rolling all over the ground. Kid was crazy. He´s like a little Mighty Mouse but not so much a doo-gooder.

I accidentally conditioned him to ask for a candy so he´ll leave. He now knows when I don´t want him in my house and asks me for a chocolate and leaves automatically. It´s awesome...but at the same time I have to give him candy now. Little devil.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don´t mind the crack!

Ah I´ve been lazy with posting, sorry guys. It´s just nothing is happening around here. Literally nothing.

It´s been raining the past three days straight. I thought about going to Zamora, but opted not to due to the rain. Hey, if kids don´t go to school because it´s raining too hard, then why can´t I? They´ve also built a new bus terminal (FYI for Andres...) and it´s all the way at the end of Yantzaza. You can´t hop on wherever like you used to. They want people to use the new terminal, so when the buses leave, they put a sticker on the door and about 5 km out, the police take the sticker off. If it´s broken, because the door was opened, it´s a $50 fine. So I have to walk 30 minutes or take a taxi or local bus. Just a hassle.

This morning, as I was brushing my teeth, I was refreshed with water dripping on my head. I looked up and there was a GIANT crack running from one wall to the other. I was really surprised as I had never noted it before, and there was water dripping down my walls in my kitchen area as well. I told Doña Anita, thinking it of great importance, but she said not to pay any mind to it, that that always happens when it rains a lot. She laughed at me, do you think it´s going to crack open and collapse? Um...yea...that´s why I told you, Doña Anita. Ah silly girl, she said to me.

I´m still learnin´, people!