Monday, July 30, 2012

23rd birthday in Ecuador

Well, two birthday´s down, one to go here in this lovely country on the Equator.  My birthday ended up being just perfect!  I went to work in the morning, nothing really too eventful.  Because we had celebrated the two birthdays on Thursday I don´t think anyone really realized that my birthday was Friday, but of course Eulalia remembered and gave me some chocolates :)

I went to get lunch with Eulalia after work.  We went to this "Fruits Only" restaurant.  It´s like a buffet of fruits, yogurts, granola and they charge you by the weight.  It was super good!!  After that I met up with Chino at his house to talk with my mom and sister.  He bought me this wonderful arrangement of flowers with a card, so beautiful!!  I talked to Ruth and mom for a bit and then Chino and I headed downtown to meet up with a volunteer form Salcedo and her boyfriend.  We had ice cream and they brought me a piece of cake with a candle!  We chatted for awhile and watched the Olympics ceremony.

After ice cream we were going to go to Sharon´s house to eat, so I had to go to order pizza and then run over to Kim´s house to get some stuff that she needed to take over to Sharon.  Between getting the pizza and bringing over stuff from Kim´s it ended up being too late for Chino to come eat with us.  Comunikt had a basketball game that night at 8 and for some reason he had to be with the team at 6:30.   So he dropped me off and I had a nice dinner and dessert with Kim and Sharon.

Kim and I were going to go to the game but at about 8 pm her family called her saying that her flight had changed for THAT NIGHT!  She was to be in Quito at like 10 pm which definitely wasn´t going to happen, so she stayed at Sharon´s and I went to the game by myself.  I ended up getting to the game later and because it was the two Ambato teams playing the Coliseo was packed.  I had to go all the way up in the nose bleed section!  Thankfully they won though.

After the game Chino went to eat with the team and then once he arrived home we had ANOTHER dinner and cake and ice cream!  So in total I'm pretty sure I made four wishes for my birthday!  His mom had went to get the cake done and told them to put "Rachel".  Well of course Rachel isn´t that common and they must have heard something different because the name was Chachi!! lol!  Oh well, it was still good cake.

We ate cake and had tea so by that time I was completely full.  We left the house at about midnight to meet up with the team and celebrate the win.  All in all it was a good night.  Even though there weren´t many people in town, I ended up spending it with really good friends that were in town, and we had a good time.  I´ve got to admit I think it´s the first time in my life that I´ve been able to blow out FOUR candles.  Let´s hope all those wishes come true ;)

This is our last week till VACATION!!!! So excited!! I haven´t really taken any vacation (only when my parents came in march) so I'm really ready to have more free time, although I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do..This coming weekend I will be traveling to Santo Domingo to help out with the brigade (the same one that came in may).  I'm hoping to bring some students from the UTA and other PCV´s to help because it sounds like they are going to need it!

Other than that I hope to visit other volunteers, catch up, and just relax!  Then start the countdown for when Hannah comes!!!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

And so the celebrations begin!

A day before my birthday and I'm already celebrating!  So at work we always celebrate everyone´s birthday. Lately with the new director we´ve been having little breakfasts, with fruit, bread, coffee, tea, the whole shabang!  Turns out the secretary has her birthday a day before mine and so they decided to do a joint birthday today.  Not really a problem for me, a celebration is a celebration and I really don´t mind sharing the occasion.

The only problem is that on Thursday´s I normally go to the Childcare center to work with the kids on English.  So we figured out that I would give English classes and then run to the office to be part of the party. I planned out this really fun activity for today about learning colors, with a song, making their own color book and everything.  I hurried to get to the daycare center, because I was running late, and get there only to find that the kids are on vacation...thanks for letting me know....this I guess it turned out better that I didn´t have classes because the party ended up starting a little bit earlier.

It was quite a feast!  Everyone had fruit salad, peaches, empanadas, coffee/tea and then they had THREE cakes!  We ate one for all of us and then they gave each of us a log like cake!  So I already have a whole cake for myself a day before my birthday, which I guess is alright because I can use it for tomorrow when I get together with the only three people that will be in town to celebrate, lol....

So far the birthday celebrations have started off well.  I'm interested to see how tomorrow turns out but I'm staying positive!  I so wish I could be with my family and friends in the states but in turn I will be with family and friends here in Ecuador.

:) :) :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

If there's cut and you don't have a band-aid just grab an EGG!

So I witnessed something very cultural today while at a basketball game that I think is important to share with you all.  One of the players on our team was elbowed right below the eyebrow during the game.  He walked off the court and obviously started to bleed.  Of course this being Ecuador no one had a first aid kit handy.  So they poured some water on it and held a napkin to the eye to try to get it to stop bleeding.  This wasn't working the best and everyone starting saying, "la cascara del huevo, hay que comprar un huevo" (the egg shell, go buy an egg).

Apparently here in Ecuador it is common to use the film of the inside of an egg shell like a band-aid. Not only does it stop the bleeding but minimizes the risk of scarring...who would have thought!  The player went to lie down while his mom went out to buy an egg, and at the end of the game you could see that they have strategically peeled off the film and positioned it just right so that it looked kinda like a butterfly band-aid.  Impressive.  He wasn't bleeding and it looked like the egg did the job, and he wasn't going to need stitches.

So there you have it, a little home remedy to help with cuts when band-aids aren't available!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Birthday a week away

One week from today and I will be celebrating yet another birthday here in Ecaudor.  Crazy to think that a year ago I was celebrating in Tumbaco around all volunteers and this year will be only with Ecuadorian.

Life updates..hmmm lets see.

Work is always interesting and changing from week to week.  I don't really mind the change especially when the change is for more work and for work that I actually enjoy but at times it can get frustrating feeling that at times I don't have a solid work plan all the time.  Flexible, flexible, flexible, gotta keep thinking; just keep swimming just keep swimming!!  But the good news is I believe the smoke is clearing.

I have high hopes for this new director that came just over 2 months ago.  As I think I mentioned before we have been progressing with project plans, proposals, etc..she is a vigorous worker and gets things done.  I feel like I have a lot more say in what I do and because I've been here a year I know people better, they know me and we can plan work together.  I totally understand what other volunteers mean when they say that after the two years they finally feel like they are starting something.

For this coming semester it looks like my main work will be helping out with this transformation in the cafeterias here on campus.  I can proudly say that I with two other "helpers" successfully did over 900 surveys with University faculty and students on the quality of service of the cafeterias and transportation at the UTA.  We then organized data to create this massive presentation for the director.  The results show that the majority of people are not happy with the service.  Our goal is to go in and train the workers on things like hygiene, nutrition and presentation (uniforms, organization, etc.  I would really like to switch out all of the unhealthy food for more healthy food but I think these steps are the first that need to be completed.

Besides this I have been conversing with the other social worker about doing work with her and the doctors in the workshops on HIV/Aids  awareness.  Last week we planned out a couple of programs that we will do for World Aid's day (Dec 1st), so Im happy that that is on the calendar.  Speaking of HIV/Aids, I traveled to Riobamba to talk with Orrin and the nurse about our support group that we are wanting to start.  Apparently they have a space reserved in one of the clinicas in town and we are scheduled to start in August.  Orrin and I are going to open up with a presentation about the importance of group support and what the myths and superstitions are about HIV/Aids.  So Im excited about getting that started.

I think that's probably about it from the work standpoint.  Life apart from work is going well.  Because of Liga Nacional (The national basket ball tournament going on-chino's the assistent coach on one of the teams) my basketball life has picked-up..As a fan that is, haha..the other weekend I went with Chino to Santo Domingo for their second game, and they won!  As of right now they are first in the Nation...haha sounds so official, even though there are only 8 teams in the country participating in this tournament it's impressive that they are first because they are a brand new team.  This next week will be more challenging as the teams get a bit harder, but their team is strong and I am confident that they will do well.

I have vacation in August from the 6th till the 21st and have no idea what I will be doing..Im sure something will happen last minute...maybe I'll go to the beach. All I know is that I really do need a vacation.  So looking forward to Hannah coming in October!

Ok I'll sign out from here! Chaiiii

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July

Happy Birthday USA!  As everyone at home has the day off and is probably spending it with friends, outside eating burgers and watching fire works, Im here at the office preparing for the little ones tomorrow morning.  I know I know I completely missed June.  I really don´t know how that happened.  There are always those days when things are going really slow and I have nothing to do but I guess it just slips my mind that I have a blog that I should be updating.  

June was a good month actually, I took on two different projects.  One is the University Childcare Center, where I am helping out teaching english to the kids (4-5 years old)  Eventually the goal is to talk to them about health related stuff.   It was quite a shock going from the University of Minnesota Childcare Center to this one.  I mean I understand it´s Ecuador and it´s very different from the States, but geez laweez the kids at the Center here are AWFUL.  There are no classroom rules.  Kids do whatever they want, they have no manners and above all, it doesn´t really appear that they are learning anything.  These years before going to school are vital to form certain skills.  After starting to volunteer here I´ve realized why the school system is not the best, they are not given the proper guidance from a young age on how to act, etc, etc....I´m not blaming the kids, because really it´s not their fault.  The adults around them are the people who should be helping to form them and that´s clearly not happening in a positive way..sad...

My other project that ended the last week of June was helping middle school students with after-school homework.  The director here at Bienestar has a Guardaria (childcare center) in Ingahurco (close to the other campus) and the top two floors are classrooms for kids to come during the school year to get help with their homework.  In the month of June the only kids that had to come were those who were failing their subjects.  This place offeres help in English, Math and Science. If the kids are failing a subject they have one chance to take a test to see if they can pass the class.  If not, they have to repeat the year.  So in the month of June I was helping students to prepare for their english test.  It ended up being really fun.  The group of students (the majority males) that I had were really energetic to work with and I think the majority of them ended up passing english, so that´s encouraging.  I also learned a lot about my own language!!

Let´s see what else has been going on....Orrin (PCV Riobamba) and I are looking into starting an HIV/Aids support group here in Ambato.  Orrin has been helping out at the hospital in Rio and come to find there are about 15 people going to Riobamba from Ambato for medical care regarding their diagnosis.  There is a group that meets in Riobamba but it´s not very successful, so we thought it would be a good idea to try to start one here in Ambato. 

Last week we went to Guayaquil to talk to some volunteers that work with people living with HIV/Aids and attended a support group.  It was really awesome to meet the people, they were so excited for us to start a group and wanted to come visit and talk to the people once we had a group established.  I´m really excited for this project because im thinking it will be my secondary project.  It won´t take too many hours away from the University but it will be a change of scenary.  So I´ll keep you all updated on that project.

As July comes and will probably go, super fast, Im realizing that my months here are dwindling down.  We received the mid-service e-mail yesterday.  We will be having our mid-service the first week in September.  After that it´s all down hill...right...??? haha, doubtful.  But I am excited for the new year because I´m in an educational institution, the years are calculated by school years, and in September will start the new school year.

This August Chino and I are looking at traveling somewhere.  At first it was going to be Argentina, with a friend here who is from there.  Now, it looks like she will not be able to go with us, meaning the price will drastically change because we were counting on trasnportation and lodging from her family and friends.  So plans have changed to the beach.  We are looking at different tours to Dominican Republic or perhaps Panama...Who knows, all I know is that I need a vacation.  I used 8 days when my parents were here and Im pretty sure I have about 20 more saved up.

Ok enough for now...sorry that was long..

Again hope all is well at home, and you guys are melting away because of the heat, it´s cold here today, hehe