Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Map Pictures...HUZZAH!

So I guess I made the grand mistake of loaning my camera to my friend, Marco. He borrowed it for a cumpleaños or soemthing and DELETED ALL OF MY PHOTOS! OMG I was pissed. This is the second time this has happened to me (the first being my Macchu Picchu pictures...thanks a lot, Brown Sugar). With the deletion went all my world map pictures and baptism photos. I feel worse for the family because the only other picture was taken by a cousin from his cell phone. are some replacement photos. Yesterday we finished painting the map! And tomorrow, since we don´t have classes...surprise surprise, I´m going to finish labeling and touch-ups. Way to go niñas!

More or less finished...

Painting...and painting...and painting. It actually didn´t take as long as I thought it would to paint. The most time consuming was sanding the wall (three days) and then making the grid system was a whole afternoon, followed by a day of drawing a three afternoons of painting. There were about 4 girls who consistently came and then the periodic drifters who would come in, paint a country, and then peace out. I was really impressed with their dedication and determination, however.

¨La Gata¨ or cat girl (what they refer to all light-eyed people as) in front of Africa. This has been a huge thing for me, actually starting and SEEING the finish of a project. it may not seem like a big deal, but I was super excited to do this and I think little by little people are appreciating what we´ve done.

Ah El Elastico. Ecuador´s version of Skip-It...kind of. It was popular but is now back by popular demand. All it is is a long piece of elastic (like what you put in the waistband of your 7th grade home ec pajama pants) and you have to do a series of jumps. It´s kind of silly but the girls at my school ARE CRAZY for it. Any spare moment, you see then jumping elastico. Today I had to take away three elasticos because they wouldn´t stop playing in class. Here´s my attempt at it last night in my pajamas...can´t see the elastic but the idea is there.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Sorry it´s been a coon´s age since I wrote....a lot of ¨not¨ going on. Mostly people pestering me about my stuff, like what I´m going to sell, give away, etc. Surprisingly enough, EVERYONE wants my gas tank! Like I´ve had literally 8 people ask to buy my tank (I guess when their gas in the kitchen runs out they like to have another since the gas truck doesn´t come around everyday...they are $60 new!). But I hav pretty much have all accounted for except for my stove....anyone? anyone? (kinda hard to sell since I don´t have the gas tank to go with it...)

In addition to hawking my stuff, I´ve been super busy with the World Map my girls and I are doing at school. I decided to do this as a big sendoff project, a physical memory of ¨La Cori.¨ It´s been more than I expected but a lot of fun. I had to measure it out (3 meters x 3 meters) and then paint the ocean. Then Grigs came over and helped me draw out the grid system (thank god because I was off like 20 centimeters on one side and it was all crooked....oy). I chose two girls from each classroom to help draw and paint the map. We drew it in one afternoon and we should finish painting tomorrow, making it three afternoons of painting. It´s been a lot of fun....Western Europe and the Middle East have been a pain in the butt to map out, however. Damn you, Turkey!! I can´t seem to get it right...they might be a little off but in the end, it´ll look great. World Map is a famous Peace Corps project and almost every volunteer does it. It´s easy and a great way to teach people about the world (like how BIG Russia is or how small Ecuador is in comparison to the rest of Latin America!) Pictures to come...

Then last but not least, I got the privelige of being a Madrina...again. There is this one mother I know from the school, I teach two of her daughters, and she has been bugging me the past few months to be the madrina for her seven-year-old Keiko Cyan (as in the whale from Sea World I told her...)I kept delaying it because I don´t really know the family and the girl I had seen once before. Finally we figured it out and I had to go to a meeting at the church about it...ugh. But Saturday we had the baptism here in Yantzaza, I wore my multi-purpose dress good for Funerals/Bapitsms/Weddings/Swearing-In Ceremonies at the US Embassy. But Keiko looked cute and all done up.

There were about 7 other kids getting baptized, I guess they do baptisms every 15 days (cada 15 días....the magical number here in Ecuador) simply because there are so many children they gotta pop ´em out fast enough or the baptisms would take forever.

Afterwards we went back to their abuelita´s house and had an apple cake I made (kids even took seconds!) and then chicken and rice. It was fun talking with the mom and her seven kids (I think she asked me because she is running out of madrinas and padrinos...they are all under the age of 17). But it´s a nice family and the girls danced....very low key. So now I´m double Madrina. I think I need a cape...

Actually my friend Miriam up north is madrina to six kids so she´s got me beat.

Next weekend cock fights in Guaysimi!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sharing the Love

These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of events and I am absolutely pooped (literally....will divulge more on that later).

My friend, Miriam, had asked me to come up to her site to do a technical exchange and teach cooking classes to a few groups of mothers. She lives in possibly the coldest site in Ecuador, in Salinas de Guaranda. It is at an elevation of over 3500 meters, looking out onto the biggest mountain in Ecuador, Chimborazo. It's beautiful there. Very indigenous and very different from where I live, but it was fun to see.

We gave two cooking sessions to mothers of the FODI daycare centers, the same organization I used to work for in Zumbi a while back. Miriam, Nancy (a volunteer nearby) and I taught the women how to make quinoa salad, fried zucchini, and Spanish omlettes. These communities grow a lot of vegetables, but never use them so we tried to teach them how to use these vegetables without using a lot of oil or salt. It was a lot of fun because we mostly went to Indigenous Kichwa communities. The second community we went to was wayyy up in the mountains, 4000 meters. In the Sierra, people are generally more reserved and shy and aren't nearly as open as the people where I live. It must be the cold...

But the women in this community were hilarious. I would ask them to cut up tomatoes or onions and they would all whisper to each other like " how do I cut this? what did she ask us? we have to cut the tomatoes!" But in strong whispers. I couldn't really understand, but they all seemed to understand each other and the room was loud, but with the sound of them whispering to each other.

They really enjoyed the recipes and it was fun teaching them new things with the products they already had. My Spanish omlette was a huge success (pretty much one of three things I've mastered while being down here).

After that Miriam and I snuck off to the beach for a few days. It was great and super relaxing. We met some boys and danced AMAZING salsa until 4 in the morning. These guys told us they were the salsa champions of the coast....I was like whatever you just want us to go with you. But they were absolutely INCREDIBLE dancers. I never even knew one could spin in so many different ways.

While at the beach we got a call that Tungurahua, the active volcano, had erupted. Apparently there was just ash everywhere, but we had to modify our plans a little since the roads were closed in that area. WEIRD!

We managed to get out safely and arrive in Quito for our COS (close of service) conference. I was kind of dreading it, just because Peace Corps training sessions have been pretty lame in the past. But it has been a blast. This is the last time we are all going to see each other together and it's been great sharing stories and seeing how much we've all grown.

There's a TON of paperwork we have to do, but a necessary evil in order to leave. Tuesday night the staff took us all to a really nice, fancy dinner. I definitely cried during a toast a fellow volunteer made. It's been very emotional, but I think it's a good thing because it shows how much I've come to love this country and my community.

Then last night we all went out for wine and tapas and it was so much fun. Everyone gave a little speech about each other, sharing funny stories or thanking people for support. Chris and I had a little "Jungle Babies" moment...admitting we wouldn't have been able to do it without each other. Everyone was just a full with love. We then went dancing and it was just so great to be all together one last time.

Just finishing up some medical stuff (have had to give three poop samples...eww). Good news: I don't have parasites!

After a crazy two weeks, I'm getting ready to go back to site and finish up with a bang. However, I have a feeling this is going to be the hardest part of my two years of service...