Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31, 2011

So as I finished up writing that last entry it started to rain and rained throughout the rest of the night. We decided to not go out. It gets really chilly when it rains. Portia and I worked on our charla stuff and I came home to eat. I then fell asleep before nine p.m. sad I know but I was really beat from the night before.

This morning I was up at 7:30 and got to skype with Hannah and Marshall, which was a nice surprise. I got my stuff together for Papallacta (hot springs) and walked to the restaurant for breakfast. We ate and then I went to the Santa Maria to meet up with Portia, Tom, Rebekah and Erika. The bus that we had to get on would drop us off kinda by the hot springs and then we were to walk to them. My parents warned me that it was about 5 km, quite a hike. The bus came after awhile and we got on. Luckily the guy on the bus told us when to get off otherwise we probably would have gone all the way to Baños! On our way there it was hailing at one point! Crazy right?!

We arrived at the stop and saw that there were trucks and cars acting as taxis to take people to the hot spring pools so we hopped in. So glad we did because it was a good 5-10 minute drive. It was really crazy being back at a place I had been just over two years ago. Nothing had really changed except there were tons of people there. We decided to grab some food first and then got in the pool. So warm! The scenery was so great. Natural hot springs in swimming pools surrounded by the Andes Mountains. The weather was perfect because it wasn’t too hot but not too cold. We took turns jumping in the freezing, and I mean FREEZING water then back in the hot hot pools!

Just as we were leaving it started to rain pretty heavily. We grabbed a truck back to the bus stop and waited what seemed like forever for a bus to come. Of course the one that came was full so we had to stand the whole way back to Tumbaco (1.5 hours). There is something about Ecuadorians not liking circulation so it was just a hot steamy bus of bodies. We got back to Tumbaco and I came home to eat. My sister was talking with the cake lady for the wedding. I really hope I can go!

Tomorrow we leave for Guayaquil bright and early. I have to be at the park at 5:50 AM. The bus will be around 9 hours…luckily I’ve stocked and charged my ipod and plan on sleeping! Lets hope these sex ed charlas go okay..

Hasta la próxima semana

July 30, 2011

July will be over after today, and I’m coming up on my 2-month mark! Wow! How time flies, although it feels like a while ago that I arrived. What will it feel like once the 2 years really sets in?

So Friday was fun! In the morning we had Spanish and decided to meet in the park instead of the classroom back at the training center. We went to the post office and then to the bank. WE got back early 11:30 and didn’t really have anything till 1:30. Our health group met to talk about Guayaquil logistics. In the afternoon we had community banks and huertos. Although it started to rain so huertos were cut short. Yesterday was the day that Portia, Tom, Rebekah and I were going to stay at the training center to watch movies. We originally were going to this Peruvian restaurant for dinner but a bunch of people on the bus were going to a Brazilian restaurant. So we decided to go with them.

It ended up being Alex A. Bryan Hamilton, Tom, Portia, Jasmine and I. We first stopped at the Santa Maria to get money and then walked to the restaurant, which ended up being closed. All the time it’s pouring down rain, mind you. So we ended up hopping on a bus to Cumbaya to go to the Peruvian restaurant. The food was pretty good. I had this pork chop and rice dish and then we all got Pisco sours.

Those of us who were staying at the center had to be back by nine. We called 2 taxis to come pick us up and Jasmine hopped in with us. We had to pick up Rebekah on the way there so we just decided to invite Jasmine. It took awhile to find Rebekah’s house but we made it justo in time to have the guard let us in. We ended up making a little nest of blankets on the floor and only watching two movies; Friday and Kill Bill. I slept through most of the 2nd one. We headed up to the room at like 1:30 but didn’t fall asleep till probably 4 Am because we stayed up to talk.

Today was our last Saturday at the center. I didn’t have Spanish but because we slept at the center I went with Teresa’s class to watch Maria Full of Glory. Teresa said she couldn’t find it so instead we watched the last Scottish king (I think that’s what it’s called). After the movie we had talleres but Javi was out buying our tickets. So I went to the cooking class to help. They were making lentil patties with fruit salad and juice, turned out pretty well. Rebekah, Erika, Tom, Portia and I got a ride with Javi back into Tumbaco. Hopefully going out tonight then to papallacta tomorrow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 28, 2011

So I was woken up this morning to rocks being thrown at my window. I thought I had heard someone knocking and whistling but I didn’t think it was at our house. Then all of a sudden a small rock hits my window, then another. I finally got up to see that Cesar (the cook) was locked out. I guess the door bell wasn’t working and he was trying to get my attention to buzz and let him guy had been out there for like 15 minutes.

On Thursdays my host mom and sister get up at like 4 AM to get food at the markets in Quito. So Cesar comes to do breakfast. I like when he comes because I actually have time to sit and eat calmly. Lately my host fam’s been getting up later and later, making my breakfast more rushed.

Talked with dad the whole bus ride to the training center. We have a farm kitten! I guess Tracy’s been taking care of him. He’s all orange and they named him O.J. (Oscar Junior) How cute!

Training went by fast but each session seemed to kinda drag. We had the last session with Youth and Families so that was fun. I came straight home to re-do the brownies. I wanted to make them the other night but failed miserably. They almost completely burnt and then hardened even more after cooling. I told my host family they didn’t have to eat them and that I would make them again but they insisted on trying it. So we had ½ burnt chocolate bricks, lol.

So anyway I bought another mix and re-made them today. They turned out soo much better or at least I thought so. I don’t think they were crazy about them. I was in heaven ☺

Watched the telenovela. I know I'm almost embarrassed to admit it but hey-we’re supposed to integrate in the culture and language right? Tomorrow a couple of us are staying over night at the training center. We’re going to hang out and watch movies on the projector, should be fun. Then on sat is the party bus for Bridget’s birthday (and mine) Finally! Sunday either a hike or mitad del mundo, haven’t decided. Should be a solid weekend. Then Monday we are off to Guayaquil to learn more about HIV/Aids and do sex ed charlas. I think they will be challenging but it’s better we get the practice now.

Alright night!


Today turned out to be a really great day. The open house turned out really great! Each group had 3 tables. Our health group had a nutrition table, hygiene table and HIV/Aids table. Our table was probably one of the best. We had a portion plate relay race game, little bottle gardens, nutrition facts for all ages and even food; papaya bread, ants on a log, oatmeal pancakes and nutritious sandwiches.

A lot more people showed up than we all thought! Towards the end we played musical chairs. Then at the end after thanking everyone for coming they announced that it was my birthday and everyone sang happy birthday to me! It was so sweet! The rest of the day was tech. Lauren later on handed me a sheet where everyone had written happy birthday or a little birthday note. Good to know I’m loved!

At the end of the day I noticed my host dad had called me twice. So I called him back and he said they were waiting for me to do cake. A bunch of us were going to eat empanadas and get beers but instead I rushed home because my host dad made it sounded like he wanted me to come home right away. Not worth it, lol. The family was really busy working on wedding invitations. So I sat and talked with them, learned about how my host parents used to live on the coast. We ate around 7:30 and did cake around 8. Pato, Vanessa, Lucy and Jorge were all there. The day was really nice, nothing over the top but also wasn’t completely forgotten about. Overall it was a really nice day. Indeed I'm thinking of all the things that have happened this past year. So grateful for everything and everyone in my life! Oh what a great 2 years this is going to be! I'm so excited for all the unkown..haha

Much love

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July 26, 2011

Tomorrow I will be 22 years old. Who would’ve thought that at this age I’d actually be living the dream of living and working in another country. Wow! I can’t even begin to explain how thankful and grateful I am for all the people that have supported and continue to support me in all that I do. I cherish all my friendships and relationship that I’ve formed in these last 22 years.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. We have this open house where each group is making a table of different talleres. My group is doing nutrition. Our table is going to have 2 parts- healthy food, portion plate game, portion control and some healthy snacks that we’ll pass around. The other half of the table will be planting cilantro in re-used pop bottles. Should be a good time, although I'm not sure how many people will show up. Many parents are working and because school is out no school groups will be coming. If all else fails we’ll just present to ourselves, lol

This morning we talked about sexual assault and how PC responds to it. I think Washington has stepped up their support because of the 20/20 episode. Sounds like they are very thorough and supportive the whole way through.

Made sloppy joes today-rather Orrin and Ericka made them and most of us paid and ate them! They were homemade and really good, they used the meat that was left over from taco Tuesday, so resourceful!

Talked a little about the tech trip we will be taking next week to Guayaquil. I'm excited because I’ve never actually been in the city. The trip will focus on HIV/Aids. I guess we’ll be giving sex ed charlas to high school students.

Wanted to make brownies for my host parents and for me. They got burnt…of course, lol. I’ll have to make them again tomorrow!


July 25, 2011

The internet is making me so angry so I’m taking a break and hopefully it will get its act together, the system is really frustrating. Today was fine. We had this really long session on different subjects. It was kinda like Q & A. There were different papers with tiles like Do’s & Don’ts, observations, sexuality, drugs and alcohol. We were given post-its and could write a question or a comment and then we talked about all of them. Parmer, our country director was there so that was good to see him and have him give advice. I asked him about staying a couple extra days for my sister’s wedding and he said it shouldn’t be a problem, yay!

After lunch we had an alcohol talk by the med team. Interesting to hear about alcohol dependence and abuse. After training we went to the “hair salon”, which is a fruit store downstairs and a small arcade, restaurant/store and hair salon. Alex, Orrin and Nathan taught me to play cuarenta (40), a traditional Ecuadorian game.

I left a little early because I had to go to the mall and get money/recharge the int. My host family was on the same bus I got on. Aparently they were coming back from the terreno (land). We own some land out by the training center and I guess they are going to be growing potatoes and other veggies there.

We’ve got this open house on wed. Not really sure if anyone will show up or not. I'm on the nutrition committee and am supposed to be doing some portion plate game..lets just say it will be an interesting bday. Leo, a guy that I met through Sarah Butch in Muisne is going to be in town so maybe I will get to see him!

July 24, 2011 Sunday

So last night was really fun! A bunch of us went out to Mariscal in Quito. Andres met us there, crazy to think it’s been 2 years since I’d been there. The bar/club we went to was super touristy but still fun. We met two professional basketball players playing for UTE, the Ecuadorian basketball team. One was from Texas and the other from Milwaukee.

Today went to watch the Copa America at Cumbaya with Portia, Tom, Kris, Sean and Rebekah. Uruguay kicked Paraguay’s butt 3-0. I picked up my laundry that I had dropped off this morning, came home and sort of crashed. I watched Motorcycle Diaries-uh such a good movie. Family came home and so that was nice to see them. Put clothes away and made my bed, ate dinner and watched some of who wants to be a millionaire-high school edition. Funny to watch with my host dad because he likes to guess the answers but most of the time will be wrong but never really admit it.

We also watched a bit of the news. Apparently these news writers are being fined 40 million dollars and being put to jail for 3 years for pretty much calling Correa a dictator and some other things. I find it interesting because it sounds like there is freedom of speech here and you’d think that would fall under it. Correa as the president should be used to getting negative remarks. I don’t think his life wasn’t threatened. My host dad seems to think that the writers deserve it because they are supposed to respect the president. At the same time though aren’t they supposed to be harsh critics? Who knows but now each of these men are out 10 million dollar and will lose 3 years of their life to prison…chances are they won’t do it again.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 20, 2011

One week till my birthday! Came back “home” to Tumbaco. It felt good to be back. It was warm and sunny. I came into my house and up to my room to unlock it but the key wouldn’t go in..we tried almost everything! Finally we had to go through the window and unlock it from inside. Apparently the 2 nephews who are here for summer break tried to get into my room. They used a key that wasn’t the right one and part of it broke off in the now my whole knob had to be changed. No big deal really.

We also have a new addition to the family. He’s a yellow lab puppy named comite (maybe not quite sure) sooo adorable, just like our 3 black labs when they were pups, except yellow (obvs) I then went to run some errands, was able to mail a letter to Bram. The post office is only open mon-fri 8-12 and 2-5, the exact times that we are in training, so it’s practically impossible to mail things.

Had a nice dinner with the family. They were very curious to hear about my trip and plan on visiting me, which would be fun. As with many things it’s going to be hard to say goodbye but I know that’s just life and it will continue to go on as I start new relationships at my site.

July 19, 2011

Tomorrow we leave for Tumbaco, I'm kinda happy. It’s really hard to say if I’m in love with my counterpart or the work I'm doing because it’s so early. There are a lot of really good things to do, I believe. It’s hard to know how I will get it all started, but I’m sure Eulalia will work with me on stuff. I just have this feeling that we are going to go back and everyone else is going to absolutely rave about their sites. Everything takes time, I know, and I just have to stay positive. I want to be happy and I want to do things that I love and I know that will depend a lot on my attitude, therefore I’m going to stay positive!

This morning Sharon, Jarrett and I met with Julie to walk more around the city. She really showed us all over. There are def some cool spots to check out. We then went to her place, which was super nice! To nice for PC I would say, but it’s completely on PC budget. Everything was pretty new and seems to be a good location, hard to know still which places are “good” or not. I don’t know if I would really want to be right there downtown. Hopefully in the 1st couple months I can figure that out so transitioning to my own place will be all right.

I ate at Jarrett’s house. I didn’t want to go to the restaurant because the lunch and dinner are like the same thing. His house is really nice, super outdated but they def have money. We had pig skin soup, the soup was good, the pigskin part was absolutely disgusting. I ate it, but never again. Then for the main plate we had chicken gizzard, also gross. It was helpful to mix it with the rice and lettuce.

Jarrett and I went to see the fire oven that makes bread but it was closed. He then walked to find ice cream and I some how found my way back towards the University. By now my knee had started hurting. I'm not sure why, maybe because we walked a lot. I went to the University to say goodbye to Eulalia. She’s def going to be an interesting counterpart to work with. I think for the most part it will be really good. I just need to find a secondary project so I'm not working an 8 hour shift every day in the office.

I then walked to the mall. Pretty small, 3 movies play a t a time. Not too many stores either and I’m sure they are all expensive. Now I’m at home, trying to rest my knee. It’s only 5:30 and I’ve got like 2 hours to kill because I don’t have to go to eat at the restaurant till around 7. I can’t really go walk around because of my knee. Maybe I’ll take a nap..or a shower..but it’s so cold today. They say that by the end of August it gets warmer.

July 18, 2011

Today was a pretty good day! I woke up at a really reasonable hour 7:20 and my family and I had breakfast here. I told them that it might be easier for me to do breakfast on my own once I'm here for good because they usually open up the restaurant for breakfast and to be quite honest I would rather make my own..aka with juice and fruit rather than bread and hot chocolate.

I left around 8:15 to walk to the University. I'm so glad that I can walk to and from the University! I arrived and had some more paperwork to fill out but other than that there wasn’t really anything for me to do, so I sat and read for about an hour. At about 11:30 I decided walk down to where Sharon will be working with the English dept. Julie, the volunteer that I’m replacing was supposed to meet me at the school to talk about programs, but she hadn’t shown up. I met Sharon and we called Julie to figure out a time to meet up for Sharon to look at possible homes. When she 1st got here, the house she was set up with wasn’t the best, so now they have to find an ew one.

We looked at 2 houses, both super nice. Hopefully PC will approve them. We ate lunch and then Julie and I headed back to the University. We talked a little about the projects which was good, then I left to meet Sharon and Jarrett. We went to this really nice coffee place. It was literally like being in the U.S. but oh so nice. I had a hot chocolate and cheesecake! We talked about the PC more and poor Jarrett’s situation. He’s such a good guy, I really hope he is able to stay. Just maybe get a better counterpart or site.

Came to the restaurant to eat dinner, had my 3rd cup of hot chocolate but so good. I then walked home to shower, which was alright..not super hot water, but also not super cold so that’s good. Then mom, Howard and Ruthie called, yay!

July 17, 2011

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I woke up and had breakfast with host mom and brother. I guess they eat breakfast here at the house only on the weekends. My brother left to go clean the church for today’s service and my host mom and I stayed and chatted for a bit. Around 8:30 I felt my 1st earth tremor! It didn’t last long but it was kinda scary. The ground shook and things on the wall were moving back and forth too, quite the experience! I guess because of the volcano there are tremors like that frequently and sometimes the volcano can spew all sorts of stuff!

After breakfast I headed to the center. I wanted to walk around some before meeting up with the other volunteers. I found this adorable little park next to the church. So many of the old colonial buildings were destroyed in the 1949 earthquake and then replaced by these ugly 1950’s style buildings. There are a few still standing though. I found a bench and began to write a letter to Bram.

After some time an old man came and sat next to me. We of course got to talking, you could tell he was lonely, but he seemed innocent. He invited me to walk around and I politely denied, just because I didn’t want to and you know how those old men get the wrong idea. He did leave after some time only to return 5 minutes later with an ice cream cone. How do you deny such a nice gesture like that?! I took it and of course at it. I'm still here so obviously it wasn’t drugged with anything, lol. I

I walked around some more because I had like a ½ hour to kill. AS I was walking this kid was like “excuse me”, normally I ignore the hisses and cat calls but he specifically wanted to talk to me. Stupidly I stopped. He asked me if we could be friends, Seriously?!?! I said no, and he was like, why not? I won’t take up too much of your time. So I told him I would give him 5 minutes. He asked me where I was from, blah blah blah and the I told him I had to go. He was pretty polite about it and said goodbye.

I then met up with the other volunteers and we had lunch at one of the markets. It was interesting to hear Jarrett’s take on his project. Let’s just say he’s not too happy. Apparently he and Mike were put at Colegio Bolivar, one fo the most prestigious schools in the country. From his point of view it didn’t make sense that PC placed 2 volunteers there. I guess all they said they really wanted help with was pronunciation. Jarrett expressed that this was not what he had not signed up for. HE really thought putting Peace Corps volunteers in Ambato, which is already pretty developed was a waste. In a way I do agree. I def see that there is a need at the University and after talking to Sharon we noticed that it is more of a tech college and the students aren’t super motivated.

Jarrett used the word “Posh-Corps” to describe PC. In a way I agree. I mean obviously this isn’t sub-Saharan Africa, but I have the feeling most of the PCV’s are living pretty comfortable lives..aka not having to “rough it” too much.

After lunch I took the bus back with Sharon and went home, really hoping there would be water for a shower. No such luck..this is the longest I’ve gone without showering. If it’s not on by this afternoon I’m going ot my counterparts to shower, this is ridiculous! So I decided to go to the park and read. There were so many people at the park. Men, women, boys and girls, playing basketball, soccer and volleyball! Too bad I didn’t know anyone. I know I know I should of just went up to people and asked to play, but I wanted to observe more than anything.

Around 5:45 I walked to the restaurant to meet my counterpart to go to the house where Sharon is living with her counterpart until they set her up with a different place. There we met Julie, the volunteer I’m replacing, Adam, another volunteer that lives about an hour away who’s half way done and a Fulbright volunteer, who did CIMAS a semester before me.

Julie is really cool! I'm hopeful that she can help make my transition a little smooth, she’s a little bit older, maybe 30 but really awesome! I'm excited that Kim will be her another year as well. She can help me find my way around the University at first.
So today was a full day of futbol. My dad is a ref and had to ref some games so I decided to go with. I opted out of a 3 hour long session of Mormon church..oh well maybe next time. Lets just say, I watched soccer from 10:30 AM till 5:30 PM It was chilly and rainy at points but for the most part it wasn’t too bad. Something to pass away the hours with. We arrived home and there was still no water. So I called my counterpart and took a taxi to her house to shower. She lives in a small condo but boy did I take the best shower I’ve had all the time that I’ve been here! The water was soo hot and the pressure was amazing, HEAVEN!!

Came back home and had lots of talk about my host dad and his marathons and 100 Km runs. He’s turning 56 and plans to not only run but win (for the 3rd time in a row) a 100 km run. Maybe he will train me ☺ ok I’m tired, write more later.

7-15-2011 (evening)

So Diego and I didn’t end up leaving till around 8:15, which meant no breakfast for me. We walked to the University, which only took about 15 minutes. I met Eulalia (my counterpart) sitting outside her office. I wasn’t really sure what she was doing so I sat down and we talked for awhile. Then she was like, “ok I’m rested, lets go in”. She mentioned something earlier about having walked to work, so maybe that’s why she was

Eulalia is really great! She loves to converse and most of the morning we talked a little about the programs. Quite a few people were coming in and out so I observed and read the newspaper. She always has hot water for tea so that’s awesome. Then lunchtime rolled around and she had to run an errand downtown so I went with. We had lunch at some nice vegetarian place- $2.50/plate, kind of high class.

You’ll never guess who I ran into! Edison! My host brother from Tena! Apparently he was visiting some girl, lol what a coincidence to see him!!

All the time we were sitting there eating I couldn’t help but to wonder if this was o.k. I come to another country to give my service for 2 years and look where I end up.. a fancy (fancy for Ecuador at least) vegetarian restaurant working for an almost prestigious university?! It’s only the 1st day and I'm trying to not pass judgment and justify that my work is needed..these are just my very first gut reaction.

We came back to the office and went over paper work. She explained all the different projects at work-well at least on paper. The main one is that I will be working with is the promotion of health and prevention of diseases. Within that category are different subjects like mental health, maternal health, cuanto sabes de HIV/Aids, which is a really neat program where we train youth in HIV/Aids prevention so that they can then teach other youth. There’s also a program to promote the prevention of cancer esp. uterus, cervix, etc.

On top of that there is this program that we have to work with the 4 different “facultades” on campus. It’s to train certain brigades what to do in terms of an emergency. CPR, escape routes, etc. There is also a student group that they want to put into place to help with certain summer camps. A lot, I know. All of these ideas are on paper, it’s now my turn to help get them started. Eulalia is very aware tha tall of this cannot be done in the 2 years that I'm here and that everything akes time. So that’s good that she doesn’t expect me to do it all! I really think we will work well as a team and of course there are a million and one resources, not only from the University but within Ambato itself. The work def excited me and I’m happy to be here I can’t help to feel a little guilty…

The rest of the afternoon we spent talking about all kinds of stuff. She told me a lot about her life. She is divorce and has 2 kids. Her daughter is my age and her son is 10. Her daughter is recently married and already 1 mo. Pregnant! Apparently she’s always given the daughter whatever she wants and now it seems to be coming back to her because the daughter thinks she can rely on her mom, when in actuality she needs to take responsibility. After all, she is married with a child on the way, so sad because she seems way too young, just going to be graduating from college this winter. So many cultural differences, I could never imagine being in the daughter’s position. I was able to meet her when she picked us up from the university.

The family was waiting on a group to arrive. I was introduced to one of the woman, who apparently is an English teacher at a high school. She felt the need to converse in English, which was horrible and I continued to speak in Spanish. It’s so awkward when people try to speak in English because 1-it’s usually bad and 2-if I were to answer back in English they probably wouldn’t understand anyway, so I’ll just stick to Spanish, that’s what I'm her to learn.

It seems to rain in the afternoon/evening and then once the sun sets it’s pretty chilly. I refuse to ask for coats to be mailed to me but I guess we’ll just have to see how long I can last…The good thing is during the day it’s usually sunny and warm! I just hope I don’t have to be in an office all day everyday, oh what an interesting 2 years this will be.

July 15, 2011

Well I'm at my site…My site for the next two years is Ambato Ecuador! It’s actually a pretty big city-about 300,000. I will be working with a social worker at the University. At first I was really excited but now I’m not sure. I will very much be working with upper class students. I guess I only though PC was about reaching out to those less fortunate. The “bienestar” (well being) is working in 4 different areas-alcohol/drug abuse, mental health, sexual health, and nutrition. They already have a volunteer and she’ll be here on Monday to talk to. I think that will be good because I will get a better feel for exactly what she does and what tasks I may be taking over. Although I'm not going to lie, it’s a little intimidating coming in to fill someone else’s shoes.

There are 3 other volunteer in Ambato-all TEFL. Sharon actually might be at my school. The University has a pop of about 20,000 students so I'm not even sure if I’ll see her. Ambato is a really neat city. Last night we went downtown to ballet-girlfriend’s daughter of host brother (who’s in Guayaquil) was performing. There are many parks and some old colonial buildings. Hopefully in 2 years I can learn to navigate the city.

Onto next agenda-host family. So after meeting with my counterpart we went to see my host family. They own a restaurant. surprise surprise. My host dad, Raul is a marathon runner-one of the best in the country and runs all over the world. My host mom is Mariana. They are both super sweet! We ate at the restaurant then my host brother, Diego took us to the house, apt, rather.

It’s a small apt. There is one main hallway with 6 rooms. The 1st is the living room, the 2nd, the bathroom, the 3rd, is the kitchen. The other 3 rooms are bedrooms on the other side of the hallway. Mine is in the middle and there are no windows. There’s a little window up high that looks out into the hallwa but that’s it. The room is super small. There’s a full bed and a tall desk. The closet is nice except where the desk sits I can’t get the door open all the way which means I can’t get the drawers open.. I’ll have to talk to the host fam about that.

Diego and I hung out all afternoon. We walked a lot. He made a map of the city for me, well kind of. The family is Mormon so there is no alcohol allowed in the house, which is really fine by me. After being at the ballet we didn’t get back to the restaurant till almost 10. We then ate a little and walked home. I was exhausted and it was really cold! I was really hoping for a hot shower but alas there was no water. Apparently it gets shut off sometimes. So I went to go brush my teeth and wash my face. There was water to wash my hands and just as I had my face lathered up to rinse the water was gone. Only little drops here and there! I tried to use as much of the drips as possible to rinse my face but it didn’t work. Alas no water, I didn’t get to brush my teeth either.

This morning I woke up to shower and there still wasn’t water pressure. I hope this isn’t a regular thing. It will be hard to get used to but I’m sure I can do it. So it’s 7:45. We’ve got to leave by 8 to get to the University and I'm not exactly sure how breakfast is working. Diego just got up..But I'm pretty sure he was up to work out at 5 am. He goes to the University to workout and said I could come whenever. Sounds good except I have to get up at the crack of dawn. I didn’t really bring work out clothes this week so maybe when I get back in Aug.

Honestly I have so many mixed feelings right now. It’s only the 1st full day, so we’ll hope it goes well. Diego still isn’t out of the bathroom, so much for eating breakfast. Maybe I’ll grab some pan on the way. So many changes, not gonna lie, I miss my host family in Tumbaco and I miss Tumbaco. Transitions are hard but I will continue pushing on ☺.

July 12, 2011

I’ll try to write quickly because I’m going to Cumbaya to watch the all-star game. Haven’t really been paying attention to baseball but it will be good to get out of the house. I kind of found out my site today. Passing by Javi (training assistant for health) was like, so do you like the mountains? He had also told me how he found out my site by accident because when he called to make travel plans they mentioned how they were waiting for me.

Well so much for the warm coast. Let’s just hope it’s not a tiny kichwa speaking community..probably will be. Oh well, it just makes me think of how I wasn’t super excited about Mexico and it turned out to be one of the best times of my life. Ahh I just want to know!! He said it was close to Quito so maybe that’s a good thing. We then had taco Tuesday! Soooo Good! Following was a charla on sexual assault. Apparently it’s the 1st time they’ve had to do it. I think because of what happened with the 20/20 episode that aired about the PC.

That charla somehow turned into a discussion aobut what the PC needs to do better..kinda got heated but some good points were made. Hopefully they will take our suggestions into consideration. We were then let out early! Tomorrow is a full day focused on sites and site assignments. I also had my L.P.I today. I probably won’t move up that much but I think it went better than the 1st. Alright gotta bounce, tomorrow I will know…dun dun..


So behind in writing!! Our cooking demonstration went great! It actually turned out quite scrumptiously (yup just made that word up) We started out with a big class/audience and as time went on people slowly left because groups were leaving early to go to the market.

The second half of our morning each Spanish class took a trip to a market. Ours went to the Cumbaya market, nothing really special. I think all of us have been to the market since we’ve been here so it seemed kinda silly. We walked around and then headed to the shopping center. Mariana (Spanish teacher) left us there-she headed back to Quito so we decided to make our way back to Tumbaco. We stopped at the Pizza Hut to eat. Pretty good pizza and only about $40 for the 6 of us to eat and drink.

I then went with Bridget to get/watch a movie. We went to the “store” (pirated store) where the movies were $1.50 each!! All super good quality. We bought 127 hours, really good movie. I went back home to rest before going out but my host sister called to ask if I wanted to go to Jose Luis’s and watch the Ecuador vs Venezuela game. I went, it was fun, Lucy and I just kinda hung out in hammocks. Ecuador lost and everyone was really upset. The house was cute, kinda like a cabin. Met Jose Luis’s dog, a terror, just needs attention.

We came home and I got ready to go out with Portia and Rebekah. We met up Andrey, Edwin and Andres. The club was really cool and we danced a lot! Barra libre till 1 AM, def paid for it the next morning. Was in bed practically all day “chuchaki”..lesson learned, never drinking again, or at least for a long time! It was nice to lay around home by myself but I really wish that someone could’ve been home to make me soup and tea.

So today was a really blah day. We met with our tech groups and had a presentation on the process of how our sites are chosen. It sounds like they do a really thorough job making sure the counter part is enthusiastic and can find a family for us. I think everyone is really excited and nervous at the same time. For health everyone has been placed but they still can’t tell us till Wed. Apparently there’s one more meeting with the CD & SSC (country director & Safety and Security coordinator) to make sure everything is good to go.

We then had the pregnancy session along with mental health. The mental health one was all about handling stress. Also about the roller coaster emotions we will face. I'm expecting all different kinds of emotions. I'm really glad I have my Mexico experience to reflect on.

The pregnancy policy chat was interesting…PC covers a lot more than I thought they would. Moral of the chat-don’t get pregnant!

Spanish was for the rest of the afternoon. At the same time we had our “resiliency test” and Mariana had to be part of that so she left us with a small activity and Spanish Scrabble. The resiliency test had 4 components-tech, safety & security, health and language/culture. They each gave us a scenario and we had to explain how we would solve it, pretty easy… After that we really didn’t have anything to do. Our 2nd L.P.I’s (language proficiency interview) were going on as well but I never got to mine, probably tomorrow. I watered our plants and we played Euchre.

Bridget’s dad gave a bunch of us a ride home, well to the Santa Maria (supermarket). Tomorrow is Taco Tuesday!! A bunch of us had to get taco stuff. $8 for 2 bags of taco cheese!! Oh well I'm sure it will be well worth it. TWO MORE DAYS!!!!!

July 8, 2011

Might as well write while I wait for my pictures to upload on Facebook. Today was pretty uneventful. We were supposed to have Spanish for an hour and a half and then do a health lecture on pregnancy policy. They ended up cutting the health charla and we had Spanish all morning! It was alright. I think everyone was interested to see what they had to say about pregnancy, lol

We watched a movie for the 1st 1.5 hours called a tu espalda, kinda weird movie but showed the reality of Quito and prostitution.. Then was lunch, really good today. Cheesy noodle soup and then veggies, meat and potatoes for plato fuerte, then little cookies for dessert. Such a deal for only $2. The rest of the afternoon was community banks and huertos. The two other groups (TEFL and youth & families) hadn’t started gardens yet. So we as a health group just watered and weeded our gardens. We then learned about organic weed killing. What we did was pureed ajo (garlic), cebolla (onion) and aji (type of pepper). That is then mixed with water, so simple…we’ll see if it works-take note my gardening parents ;).

Our cooking group met to make a list for tomorrow, we will be making Sacocha- a traditional soup. No on has ever actually made it but we have pretty good directions. Cara and I went shopping after class.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July 7, 2011

So yesterday we had our tech trip presentations. They went really well, a lot better than I thought they would go. We were also explained how CAT tools work. CAT, which stands for community assessment tools, are all different types of surveys we will be expected to do during the first 3 month of our service. They range from health and nutrition to sexual reproductive health and HIV/Aids. We have to do a minimum of 100 surveys for different survey categories. Then at our reconnect in November we present what info we’ve gathered and start to look at how to implement projects.

They told us not to rush it and that it would be good to spend the first month just hanging out with the people in the community getting to know places and faces. I wonder if that will be easier said than done, but I’m thinking it won’t be too hard to just “hang out” for the 1st month.

After training a few of us got some tasty empanadas. Good thing I went straight home after because when I arrived my host family was seated with Lucy’s mother-in-law and brother-in-law. I guess they had come to talk about wedding details. It was a pretty fancy dinner and I guess the mom brought our family a live chicken. The sun is in training or school or whatever they do to be a part of the military here in Ecuador.

Apparently he’s on his way to Georgia for a month long training. It took me a couple hours to put two and two together to realize he probably wasn’t going to just any training but to the infamous Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formally known as the School of the Americas. To be honest I was completely shocked! It kinda freaked me out and I’m sure the family hasn’t thought twice about what it is exactly he will be doing there.
So today was pretty good. The highlight was our 2nd interview. I had mine with Bibi. We talked about successes and challenges. I expressed my desires of wanting to work with the young population and with a strong counterpart that wants to be involved in what I do so that we can create a fun, solid primary project. Hopefully I can also have the flexibility to do other secondary projects. I also asked for a somewhat warm place, just because I’ve grown up my whole life with winter from end of November till April. To be honest I'm sure I’ll be happy wherever I’m placed, but it doesn’t hurt to request, right?

We then had med sessions the rest of the day. Some of us went to get drinks and chat after training. We’ve def got a cool group of people! Oh yes, a couple med updates. Will, one of the volunteers messed up his elbow on Monday playing basketball and was medically evacuated yesterday to Washington D.C. for surgery. He’s from MN and actually graduated from the U in December. I hope he will be able to come back soon and continue on with training and get a site assignment. Bridget, who this past week fell into a pothole and messed up her foot, got x-rays and now has a boot-bummer, but I guess it could be worse.

Tomorrow we are working in the huertos (gardens), yay! Teaching the cooking taller on Saturday. Everyone in health is required to teach one cooking taller and talk about nutrition. We are making soup I do believe. Then it’s already the weekend!! Ahhh where is the time going!?!
Buenas noches

July 5, 2011 HIV/Aids training

Today was a full day of HIV and Aids. Our program manager flew in from Guayaquil to do a sort of training with us. Her name is Rebecca and she’s the specialist in HIV/Aids stationed in Guayaquil. We started out with a questionnaire. It had basic questions about how it’s transmitted, etc. We did condom demonstrations and different dinamicas about how to educate people on the subject of sexual reproductive health.

A woman who is working on the rights of those living with HIV/Aids came to tell us her story, which was very powerful. All in all the day was really fun and informative. It got me really pumped to talk about sex ed and self esteem to teenagers, especially to girls because it seems that self esteem issues are a problem among girls. We watched this awesome video called the girl effect: the clock is ticking. Here is the link, I would def recommend you to watch it!

We were going to go get empanadas after class today but the place was closed. I went home to work on our project for tomorrow, I hope it goes o.k!

July 4, 2011

HAPPY 4th OF JULY!!! Today was soooo much fun!! We had another panel session with PCV’s. Didn’t learn too much new info. It’s always fun to hear about other volunteer’s experiences and it seems as though everyone’s experience is different. To be honest I have no idea where I want my site to be..I really think there’s positives and negatives to any place that I would be put.

After the session we started our dia deportiva! (sports day). Each group had different jersey’s and split into 3 sports-basketball, volleyball and soccer. Before the games began there was this semi formal ceremony. Each group elected “reinas” (queens) and did a chant. Then we sang the Ecuadorian and U.S. national anthems. I played volleyball all afternoon and loved it! We actually ended up taking the championship for volleyball and second place for soccer! The PCV’s were on a team and won everything else.

In between games we maxed hard on food! Burgers WITH BBQ SAUCE, all different types of salsas, brownies, chips, oh so good. It felt a little like home. It was nice the PC staff did this day for us. It was a nice break from training. I'm not sure what’s in store for this week. I know we have our last interviews before finding out our sites and a presentation on wed from finding throughout the tech trip.

I guess next week we find out our sites, right before we are to leave for them! I can’t even explain the emotions for that!! I just want to know!

July 3, 2011 Surprise Sunday

You know how you’ve got those days where you’re kinda surprised how it ends up? That would be today in somewhat of a nutshell. So we had this “family breakfast” at 8 am. Of course we didn’t make it till 9. We arrived and there were tons of people in the house. I'm still not quite sure who was related and who wasn’t. “Breakfast” started with a traditional soup called Yahuar Locro, a sheep intestine soup accompanied with fried sheep blood. I opted out on the blood. Then we had a plate of rice, potato salad and chicken. I was then offered Chicha, which is this indigenous drink made out of fermented maiz. From what I’ve heard it’s supposed to be awful. They must of made a good batch because I thought it was pretty tasty.

After eating we proceeded outside. Some people were getting costumes ready for a parade. Then shots of whiskey were passed around. It’s 9:30 AM going on 10 AM mind you. I then found out that the Pueblo was celebrating ‘Corpus Christi’, a celebration to give thanks for the harvest. Various groups dressed in different indigenous dress, danced in this parade around the main plaza/park. It was pretty neat, the first 2 hours that is. Everyone proceeded to consume large amounts of alcohol and converse. Lucy went back and forth to the car to rest because she had arrived home around 4 AM that morning and had to get up at 5 to go to the market.

The festivities were to go well into the night. We left at 4 pm I was ready to go by then. It was quite the experience and well worth it! Tomorrow is the 4th of July, doesn’t feel that special here. We have classes the morning and then a sports tournament in the afternoon. I'm going to play volleyball and soccer if they need me.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 2, 2011

Today was a good day. I was able to sleep in until 7:30. I decided to get up to type up my blog info and then get my clothes ready to send to the laundry mat. Luckily as I got up the courage to accept the fact that I was going to have to walk to drop off my clothes and then to the restaurant to eat breakfast Lucy woke up! Entonces we were able to drive, yay. We had breakfast and then dropped off my clothes. I then went to Santa Maria, grocery store, to buy saldo & meet Portia to head to Quito!!

I was impressed how well we made it all the way down to the centro historico, all on public transportation. We walked around a lot, went into some churches and were able to get a tour of the president’s palace. A lot of the gifts that Correa has received from other countries are on display and I guess he has decided to let the palace keep them for historical purposes. He is the 1st president to do this. Many of the presidents before took way more then what was appropriate if you know what I mean..cough.. CORRUPTION!!

Afterwards I was able to get in contact with Andres so Portia and I met up with him! Crazy to think it’s been 2 years since I’ve seen him. He and his friend got tickets for transformers but were sold out by the time we got we got ice cream and were able to talk for a bit. I hope I can hang out with him and the rest of the “crew” more. There’s something about being with the Ecuadorians especially ones that I'm already friends with that brings me happiness and make me feel more integrated into the culture.

We came back to Tumbaco, were going to meet up with some other volunteers in Cumbaya but decided to get a ride with my sister as she was there from a torro event. Her and her friends invited us to come to another town to party. Apparently they planned on being out till 5 or 6 AM. I opted out, grabbed my laundry and headed home. The walk wasn’t as bad as I had expected. I ate with the rents, I think they were happy to have me there. Did some homework, about to finish off the 2nd season of Dexter and then hit the hay. We’ve got a family breakfast tomorrow and then I’ve gotta do more work for the coming week…

July 1, 2011

1 month!! I’ve made it one month, now only 26 to go..We returned to Tumbaco from our tech trip today. This morning we had training and then did a hike. The hike was cool because we got to see and eat many of the foods they grow at the finca. We had Cacao, coco beans, there’s a slimy sweet/tart substance around the bean that you can eat. We also had sugar cane- so good! We even had the opportunity to harvest bananas. I'm pretty sure what happens is the tree puts all its energy into the fruit and dies. They then take bamboo trunk and strike the tree several times until the tree doubles over from the weight of the bananas. Usually bananas are harvested green and then ripen after. There were a couple that had already ripened so we were able to eat them..again, so good!! And literally right off the tree.

After that we drank water right out of a bamboo tree. Bamboo trees are supposed to do an amazing job at filtering and cleaning the rainwater. The water was sooo fresh and quite tasty! After the hike we got our stuff together and headed back. We stopped in Puerto Quito to eat and then take the main bus to Quito. From Quito we took another bus to Tumbaco. That bus driver decided to run a red light and the cops pulled him over! After waiting and waiting we decided to get off and take a different one. This one of course was way more packed. I came home to an empty house, which was good because I had some time to relax.

My family came home for a brief minute and then we went down the street where Sol-host niece, brother’s daughter- had her end of the year celebration. Each class did some sort of dance or skit but all in all it was very poorly organized and somewhat religious, but definitely an experience. Amelia (the younger niece) has warmed up to me and even came to sit on my lap. Tomorrow hopefully Portia and I will go to Quito.


Almost 1 month since I’ve been here, so hard to believe! Time seems to be going by fast, but looking ahead I have a long way to go! Today we did farm stuff..fed the chickens, ducks, pigs, collected eggs, milked a cow ( I know, aren’t you proud dad ;) ) Reminded me of old childhood memories. Funny how people react to the sight of sows, esp if it’s for the 1st time.

We then went to help plant in the huertos. After that we collected fruit, mostly oranges & lemons. We also got to see this huge fruit-largest in the world actually, named Jack Fruit. Apparently it was brought here a couple years ago from Malasia. People here don’t really eat it but it’s supposed to have over 7 different flavors. We had lunch & then some free time. The main guy that owns/runs the place Luis, took us to another hostel nearby to swim. He said there we could jump off a bridge into the water..yeah def. not the case, it was too shallow. But the water still felt good and it was so clear!

We then had Spanish and Norma gave a presentation of medicinal plants and Shamans. Some of what I had heard of before with Cuy and eggs used to cleanse the body or detect diseases. It’s amazing the different types of plants that can be used for all types of sicknesses. She even talked about how the inner thin layer of the egg shell can be used as a healing agent on cuts, kinda like stitches. Also that the inside of a banana peal can be used as sun block! Just rub it over the area you want to protect, not sure what SPF, lol.

Dinner was really good! A type of spaghetti. Then once it was dark we went on this walk and saw illuminated tree roots, no lie! The roots glowed in the dark. Apparently there’s this story of a little man, a gnome, who made his way from Quito to live here. There used to be an old school and only the women teachers (with long wavy hair) would be able to see him.. It is told that if the roots of the tree are illuminated the gnome wants to welcome you into his house, which is a tree.

So the 1st tree we went to didn’t have any light. On the second you could see some specs here and there on the third tree the roots literally glowed in the dark!! Some real Avitar stuff. Luis said there’s been no scientific evidence found as to why the roots give off this illumination in the dark. As for the gnome, he was no where to be found..

One more thing, this morning we did our last charla to kids of a one-room school. There are 19 of them ranging from 7-14 years old, we took the younger half. The charla went alright, we found out that most kids hadn’t heard of floss nor do regular dentist visits. Many of the kids have to cross this river on a super sketchy bamboo bridge! They said that during the rainy season the river can reach and even surpass the bridge, so dangerous for he kids. They also walk between 15-60 minutes just to get to school. No running water and an outhouse for a bathroom.

The teacher lives there at the school and says she lets them use her bathroom most of the time. Absolutely amazing to see how people live. This is the reality…so sad…Tomorrow we do a hike, then to Puerto Quito for lunch, hopefully get some encuestas (interviews) done and then it’s off to Tumbaco..home sweet home..talked to dad tonight, yay! Buenas Noches


So much going on today. We were in Pedro Vicente today. Woke up and had breakfast..consisted of yogurt with cereal and juice. We then met Joy to go see the relatively new hospital. It was built in the 2000’s by a team from Notre Dame, before there was only a Centro de Salud. Now with the hospital they are also incorporating residence training. I don’t know if I mentioned it before but in order to become a doctor here you do 4 years of med school and then one rural year and you’re a doc. There is no residency required. With this program they get a chance to do a residency, which gives them more hands on experience before becoming a doctor.

The guy talked about how for the most part treatment was free and those who could pay, pay but it’s really hard to tell, rather there is no system to tell what people’s income level is in order to know who would pay what. Regardless everything is soo much cheaper than in the U.S. Doctor consults are $2, x-rays are around $8, C-section births are $500, you get the idea.

After this we went to check out Joy’s apartment. Her family/ counterpart has a store on the 1st floor, she lives on the 2nd and they live on the 3rd. It’s a really cute set up. She practically has 2 rooms-bedroom and then the living, kitchen and dining room are all one, and then a bathroom. She pays $70/mo. And has internet through the family.

It’s amazing all the projects she has started. Cooking classes, aerobics classes, training youth in HIV/AIDS and doing sex ed classes to the colegio (high school). She seems like the ideal volunteer. For the most part it got me really excited for all the opportunity that hopefully my site will have, but at the same time I def questioned if I would be able to do this!! But what it really comes down to is ME making the most out of my time, spending time with people, etc… There was a parade so we watched that and then did some interviews with people.

Besides the giving of charlas we are expected to come up with a 10-question survey process the info and then apply it to a made up community. We did questions mainly geared towards heath (obvs). We ate lunch and were on our way to the last stop. We took a bus for about 30 min. hopped off and walked down this gravel road till Bibi met us and drove us the rest of the way.

For the next two days we are staying at this resort/farm place called Los Chisparos. It’s like a farm, they’ve got animals-pigs, chickens, cows, Cuy, tilapia, and rabbits. They also grow and harvest fruits. The landscape itself reminds me of the jungle. Many flowers, huge bamboo, even green parrots! There’s also a river to swim in! Apparently the place is used for school groups. Kids come and stay in the cabins, then learn about gardening and farming, etc..

We also met up with our other nice to see them! They leave for Santo Domingo tomorrow. We swam, played vball, then ate. There was some music afterwards but no one really got into dancing. I watched a game of Yuker, thanks to all who helped teach me spades, it was pretty easy to pick up on.

We are getting up early to mild cows, yeah, that’s right dad, you never would’ve thought your daughter would mild cows BY HAND! Then more farming and picking fruit. We also have our last charla-the one today got canceled so instead we will go to a one room school house and do dental hygiene, should be interesting. Fri after lunch we head back, and after 2 weeks from today I’ll be at my site for a visit, CRAZY!!

So many girls freaking out because of the bugs, haha

June 28, 2011

(26 but bites on both legs just from knee down)

Today was awesome! We woke up and grabbed some pan and yogurt. Santo Domingo was practically dead at 6:30 AM which was quite a change from the bustling city we arrived to. We made our way to Rons community to do our charlas at a school.

This time we were to give a teeth-brushing charla. The classroom was full with students and desks so it was hard to do our dinamica but for the most part it went well. The kids were really well behaved and for the most part understood the point we were trying to get across about brushing teeth.

After that we headed to a center for malnourished children. It is Catholic supported and only one of two in the whole country, which seems kinda crazy because malnutrition’s one of the most prevalent problems here. What the center does is it takes in children that are malnourished; they also have to be accompanied by and adult so that as the child gets help-usually physically with food- the guardian (usually mother) can get emotional support and training. The youngest mother that’s come to the center was 9 years old. NINE!!! Also some of the children need to stay at the center Mon-Fri in order to ensure they get better.

After this we had some time to get food. A couple of us went to the mall to get food. I had a personal pizza, bbq chicken and oh soo good! After wards we splurged and got ice cream. And no, I don’t feel one bit guilty about it. We had to be out of the hotel by one, so we packed up and made our way to the next destination-Pedro Vicente.

Apparently there were two ways to go. One was direct, but there would be protesters along the way at some point. Protesters here can be dangerous I guess…according to our safety director. The other way would involve a more complicated route and 2 buses but much more “safer”, actually Bibi, our program Manager forbid us to go the short way and advised us to go the long complicated way because it was going to be safer. So which way did we go, well of course, the shorter yet “more dangerous” route. Not to worry, there were no protesters. We arrived to Pedro Vicente in no time. Although it was wicked hot and the bus ended up making frequent stops.

Pedro Vicente is an adorable community with about 4000 people. We met the PCV working there, just about to finish up her 2 years. Her name is Joy and they call her “Alegria” which means happiness in Spanish.

We talked to the mayor and he gave us some more info about the city. Apparently they’ve been re-doing roads and what not. The city is like my ideal community, not too big, not too small, the weather although hot and humid is still manageable and quite pleasant at night.

We then headed straight to the high school for our second charla. This was a group of students probably 14-17 years old. I think it was our best one yet! The kids were really involved and interested in what we had to say and do with them.

Really good group. Afterwards we came back to change for the aerobics work-out that Joy does here in the community. I wasn’t expecting anything too intense but boy was I wrong. She did an amazing job! We did a full hour long intense aerobics work-out. Apparently she’s gotten some women on board to continue the class when she’s gone. Her Peace Corps service is like the ideal in my mind because she does other activities on the side to working with her counter-part, who we have yet to meet. Plus everyone knows and lover her.

After the intense work out we went a couple blocks down to where they had food stands and fireworks. Evidently Pedro Vicente is celebrating 20is years as part of the Canton, which is like a county in the states. We had some good street food, different Kabobs, donut type things and a traditional drink called Canelazo (not quite sure on the name). It’s a warm drink, kinda like apple cider with alcohol, an equivalent to our moonshine. Personally I think it’s better than moonshine, just because it’s a lot sweeter (if made right). We’ll see how all the street food sits with me..

Tomorrow we’ll be giving our last charla and meeting up with the other group


Monday June 27, 2011 TECH TRIP

Wow, so we have a lot to talk about here! It’s been over a week and lets be honest I don’t remember a lot of last week…training, nothing too boring but boy did it fly by! We are already on Week 4. One month from today is my birthday. I'm excited but at the same time not because that means that my 20’s are going to fly by. I will have turned 24 by the time I get back home.

So today we arrived in Santo Domingo. They have recently added Santo Domingo as it’s own province. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Quito. We met bright and early to leave for S.D. today. The new bus station is absolutely spectacular!! If anyone who reads this remembers the old bus station, it was more towards the colonial part of Quito, sketchy, creepy..etc..I think you get the idea. The new one is like an airport, super clean, fancy..a lot better. The bus was really nice too. The ride went really quick. So many curves

Santo Domingo is def more like the Latin American city we all expected. It kinda felt like a Cluster F*** to be honest; In a way though it’s organized chaos, so many random stores and wired hanging everywhere. I’ll try to get a picture up. I know I know I’ve been completely failing at picture uploading. Although there are some on my Facebook.

We took a taxi to the “hotel”, nice, hot water-that’s always a plus. We then met with Ronald, PCV at one of the communities. He works with one of the health centers there. It isn’t supported by the state so it’s hard for them to get simple things like medicine and other resources that regular state run health centers would have. We then gave our charla about nutrition to a group of women. We were expecting a lot of people and only about 20 showed up. We had to tweak it a bit but for the most part it went well. The women were really patient and def willing to learn!

We went back into Santo Domingo, had Spanish, which was pretty much a review of what went well and what didn’t, then was dinner and we got together to go over tomorrow’s charla-hand washing with kids. It should be more hands on and fun…

A little about this past weekend, I went to Mindo with my host sister Lucy, her husband and Jose Luis. I thought it would be a bit bigger group aka not a couple’s retreat. All in all it ended up being fine. Jose Luis got the hint that I wasn’t interested in him. We did a hike on Sunday to some waterfalls and then did an hour zip line trip through the mountains!!! It was sooo cool! Lucy and Jorge chickened out but whatever. All in all it was a really good short trip. Oh yeah it’s really hot and humid here..