Thursday, July 22, 2010

Goodbye Jungle and Guayzimi Fotos

Last weekend a bunch of the volunteers from the cluster came down to have a despedida with us in Guayzimi. We did a great jungle hike up a waterfall and through the jungle to a tire swing and see some awesome trees and wildlife.

We had to cross this river to get to the Pailas waterfall, or pails. It was cool because there were two pools up on the waterfall and the water would come rushing down, like pails full of water.

I made the 10 km walk to Zumbi the other day to visit Grigs and snapped this sepia photo on the way. Man, I will miss these mountains.

This is Mario, Chris´s CRAZY host brother. This kid has made me laugh more than anybody here. Here he is bathing himself with the hose, acting like a wildthing. Last night we made S´mores after the AMAZING cookout they made for us, as a final dinner. Mario ate practically the whole bag of marshmallows (or besos de novia kisses of the bride) and was so hyper. He was acting ridiculous. Chris is definitely going to be down a sidekick when he goes to the States. Those two were like long lost brothers.

Here is Chris with the amazing Castillo family. You can see the little grill they set up in front. Such amazing was criollo chicken (organic chicken) but this tasted way better than the criollos I´ve normally had. Lip smacking good. We also made shish kabobs with pork and veggies. Those were amazing and Mercy, his sister, was gobbling those up.

Me with Chris and Mario and then Joey, the volunteer that is replacing Chris. He was here this week for a site visit and then comes back in the middle of August. It was cool to meet him and show him around...crazy that he is replacing Chris! Time has seriously flown by. (sorry about the laundry lines in the faces)

Well I am hoping to put up at least one more post before I leave. As always, thanks for reading´s been so much fun doing this blog!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Despedidas Galore

Well now that I have more or less Quince Días left in Ecuador, I have started to go into Despedida Mode. Despedidas, or goodbye parties, are a big deal here, especially since I´ve made so many friends and worked with so many people.

The last day of school is tomorrow, however today was the last day of classes. Last week the girls went on paseos or end of the year field trips, and I accompanied three classes.

Friday I went with one of my favorite classes, 5to A, to the pool in Zumbi. They have a great slide and I even called up Grigs to come swim with us. It´s been super hot these past few days and it was a perfect day to spend at the pool.

Me and the girls. They love my big sunglasses....

Saturday I had a paseo with the girls of 6to A and we went to the pools in Yantzaza. Here´s a dad making fritada, or fried pork, and sippin´ a beer. It was hot hot hot that day.

Me and two girls, Dani and Linsy, and the Profesora Teresa.

One of my favorite girls here, Belén, the chica with the short hair, threw me a goodbye party that same afternoon. She invited all the neighborhood kids and they all did a dance for me, made a lunch and served me cake (pronounced kay-e). It was so adorable and really made me feel loved. Passing out of a candy while waiting is tradition (as shown by Banesa).

One of the games was dancing with a tomato on the forehead. Here one of the moms is showing us youngsters how to do it. And did that Mama dance!

Amazing way to end the day! That rainbow was awesome! I told the kids to dance Waka Waka under it while I took the picture.

These are the girls from 7to B and we went to Gualaquiza yesterday. It´s about 2 hours north of Yantzaza. They hired a bus to take us to the military base in Gualaquiza. They gave us a tour, let us swim in the army pool (best pool in Ecuador! SO CLEAN!) and then they served us lunch.

Army boys cutting up yuca for our lunch...

We then went to this tourist spot where two rivers meet. They wouldn´t let the girls swim there but they had a bunch of jungle gym (literally JUNGLE) stuff to play on. Me and a niña.

It was quite an eventful weekend and I´m so grateful for all the niñas and their families for their appreciation and kindness they have shown to me. Today the despedidas at school involved two classes. The first class gave me a set of juice glasses (not sure how I´m going to take those home...) and a very ¨breathtaking¨ statuette. Overall, it´s awesome but very bittersweet. VIVA YANTZAZA!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yantzaza Nightz

Now that I have officially reached my last month in Yantzaza, I am starting to relish more and more of what has made this jungle town my home, one that I will miss greatly.

Walking around during the day, you notice taxis running around, dust flying, giant dump trucks filled with mud, kids yelling, a man selling 50 brooms on his back, a woman on a bench with her left breast hanging out as a hungry child suckles it and plays with her long black hair...everything is going on. It´s a sort of Amazon chaos... a steady movement.

However when night time reaches, it´s like a plug is pulled. Things move just a tad slower. There is no dust flying in the air, the streets are quite silent, high school kids hide in the dark corners making out with just their cell phones playing bachatas as an indication that they are there. The stars literally twinkle, as if Dios sneezed glitter on the midnight blue sky. The air is crisp and fresh. I take deep breaths and get a sort of high off the tranquilidad. It is so damn refreshing.

In the park, the only lights are those of the stores still open for business and an occasionally street lamp. One side of the park is lined with food trucks, selling their typical dishes of chicken, meat, or guata, cow intenstines made with potatoes in a peanut sauce. I´m sick of seeing rice, totally knowing what it´s going to taste like. I want a surprise!

But then I remember, my surprise is that my two years have flown by faster than those taxis and it´s time for me to start saying goodbye.

Today I went to visit my good friend Rosario and her three sons. They used to be my next door neighbors but a year ago they moved to another part of town. Rosario is a great friend and has an amazing spirit. She is nine months pregnant, looks like she´s going to pop any minute. But she still moves around as if she weren´t pregnant. She was giving her youngest, two-years-old, a bath of chamomille tea because he has a cold. But the way she moved around, I was stunned. This woman is pilas. She then proceeded to make dinner for five and make me my favorite empanadas that she makes, all in an hour. She is incredible. I did help peel the yuca...after she explained to me how to do it of course. It took me about three times longer than she probably could have done it, but I was glad to help just the same.

I gave the boys my DVD player and some books and cards. Rosario started to cry. When I saw her, the strongest woman I have ever met in my life, do that, I knew that I had made an impact on somebody. And it made me realize how special and amazing this experience has been and I wouldn´t change anything I´ve done.

Leaving her house, I am walking back in the night, breathing the fresh air and feeling the rush of my jungle town like never before.