Site visit- Cajabamba!!!

Hola everyone!!! I am currently on site in Cajabamba for a few more days. This will be my new home for the next 2 years. It´s an ok place, it´s not as remote as some places, and one of the organizations I work with has computers and I have access to free internet!! which is awesome!!! Yesterday I went with my counterpart to one of the communities in the mountains that is wanting my help to start an integrated farm (of which I really know nothing about,yet!) it was way up on the top, literally, of one of the peaks, and we spent the morning watching the local people bring their cows and a few sheep in to get vacinations from the gov. it was fun to watch, but I was really wondering what we doing there, and then at 9 in the morning they tell us guests to go into this room with tiny tables for a break. They bring in food for us, which consists of a bowl of potatos, and a slab of cuy rib laid out on top of it. Let me tell you, I was reallllll excited about it!! I forced what I could down, and luckily the cuy slab I got didn´t have much meat on it. After our snack, and some more vacinations, we traveled down the other side of the mountain to their little plot of land they want my help with; all of the men brought their hoes with them, and I was rather perplexed and worried they expected me to preform for them with all my knowledge of agriculture! But luckily, or unluckily, it depends, they all sat down to listen to my counterpart talk to them for an hour in the local language, quichua. Then he turns to me and says, ok now tell them about yourself and what you want to do here. I was quite taken by surprise as I was in the middle of a daydream. SO I said that I¨m Lindsay and I¨m with the Peace Corps and I´m very happy to be here and excited for the work to be done. Then I asked if they had any questions for me (stupidly) and one guy did have a question for me but he took forever to ask his question so that I lost track of what he said, then I couldn´t answer him and my counterpart tried to say it in simple spanish, I still couldn´t answer so I just said I didn´t have the words. I think this experience was the first of many embarrassments yet to come. Yay!!!
SO this all occured Tuesday March 23rd. Today is now the 25th. This morning I had a meeting with my other counterpart and their agency CEDEIN. It is a rather well organized organization. They supplied me with 2 books before I even got there (through Peace Corps) and they are doing so much to help the local people get their products out there and to advertize that they are doing this in an organic manner. They want my help with commercializing some of their products and getting them into more markets. While I am rather excited about this, I really don´t have much knowledge about this either! But this meeting allievated some of the anxieties I have developed being here in my site. I feel like I actually have a chance at being useful here, which is great!!! Well enough for now, more later!! Love and miss you all!! Lindsay
P.S. Above are the girls in my province of Chimborazo. Carrie, Cara, Me, and Rachel


March 16, 2010
Days in the Peace Corps, I am coming to realize, are full of confusion and new surprises; you never know what could happen next! Today was supposed to be another normal day with our entire group of volunteers, full of information about STDs and pregnancy. But I had forgotten that the US Ambassador for Ecuador was coming to visit with us! We received an interesting talk from her about her experiences and her advice for us as volunteers and as young people in a new culture who are all being seen as representatives of the United States. Her closing statement to us was with a story of an adventure she had in one of the many countries she had worked in. She advised us to leave a legacy wherever you go; to make such an impact that when someone does a certain activity or sees or smells something they will think of you and the amazingness that was you! This made a big impact on me. It made me think more about the effect I could possibly have here on just about anyone that I meet. Up until now I have been thinking a little more selfishly, about how this experience is going to affect and change me. I need to start thinking differently, in a more open and giving fashion.
After our talk from the ambassador, we had to rush to do lunch because we were just informed this morning that we were coming back to my farm for our afternoon agriculture session. Lunch consisted of Pollo frito con agridulce (sweet and sour chicken) at a China restaurant. It wasn’t bad, but it is also Chinese food in Ecuador, so what more could I expect?! Then we had to rush for a bus into my town for our ag session, which we were of course late for- true Ecuadorian style already! Now this ag session was the most interesting as of yet. We were learning about small animal production, which is my job title, so my attention was piqued. Edwin, my host dad, along with a few current volunteers, talked to us about cuyes and pollos (guinea pigs and chickens) and the care of them, what was the best method of cleaning and caring for them, what works, what doesn’t. Apparently the best way to clean a cuyes habitat is to take out all the poop/fertilizer and take a blow torch to everything. This will kill all the germs and parasites and anything else growing in there that doesn’t belong, and this method is much better than chemicals and insecticides, and is cheaper, always good! Next on the agenda: killing time! Now this was worse than I was anticipating. I figured there was a good way to do it quickly and relatively painless, but the way we were shown was pretty nasty. Its possible Bryan just didn’t do it correctly, but he was told to hold the cuy behind the head, on its neck, and jam its head into the cement. Now when Bryan did this, the cuy did not die right away, so he had to mask its head multiple times in the pavement. Throughout this process, I could not watch and it was a little upsetting for me, thinking that I’m probably going to have to do this at some point. They also said another method was to cut its throat, which seems better to me. After the cuy Maggie, my host mom, came out and demonstrated how to go about preparing the cuy for the next step of cooking it. Next up, a chicken! Which, by the way, is so much easier to kill!! All you have to do to kill a chicken is take a knife and chop its head off- simple right?! All of this was a lot to absorb for the day so a few of us went out for a drink in a little place in our town, which had some amazing tables and stools made out of cuttings of trees and varnished. It was a nice relaxing time hanging out and enjoying the company of fellow volunteers. We spent time talking about our possible sites for the next two years. We are all very excited to find out on Friday where we will be living for the next two years!! I’ll keep you updated as to where I will be!!!

New Places- Exciting!!!!!

2-20-2010 Sat.
Today is our first day in Cayambe. We had a long drive here (well, 1 hour 15 min.) But it seems much longer when you have to use the restroom! We traveled here after visiting el Mitad del Mundo. This is the center of the world, the equator. It was a nice little touristy place. We got on a bus that was rather interesting at the Hostal San Juan. It was a large tour bus type with spikes on the wheels, and shag window coverings. We drove to Mitad del Mundo, which took about 30 minutes. We arrived and got out to see a large statue with a ball on top and a bunch on monuments in front of it. We started walking to see all the sights with our guides that refused to speak English with us. It was rather difficult because I have to put all my energy into listening to pick out what I do know to be able to get anything out of it. We were taken on a tour around the plaza that had a bunch of different little shops. Then we were taken into the large monument, which had a bunch of different exhibits talking about the different people and cultures of Ecuador. At the top of the monument was a viewing platform, which had an amazing view of the surrounding area. There are lots of mountains and hills that are all throughout the area and it does look a little like a patchwork quilt. There are a lot of buildings and houses everywhere and on the hillsides, many of them have rebar sticking out of the top of the houses so that when they have more money, they can build another level onto their house. The one thing that really surprised me and kind of threw me off was the fact that you are not supposed to throw the toilet paper into the toilet, it goes in the trash. Let me tell you that takes some getting used to in order to break 23 years of throwing my toilet paper in the toilet where you think it belongs.
After we left the Center of the World, we walked a little down the road, to another Museum type place. This is the actual GPS determined center of the world, the place where the equator runs through it. We had a guided tour this time in English. He took us around the small site and did some demonstrations about gravity and the effect of being on the Equator. The first one was with an old sundial that was used many, many years ago. It is still accurate but it is off by about 15 minutes because the actual length of the day is not 24 hours and that was why Leap Year was invented- to make up for that lost time. The next demonstration was in order to show how when you walk along the equator you can feel the pull of gravity from both sides. Our guide had us walk on the line of the Equator with our eyes closed and thumbs up, heal-toe. I could feel the pull especially to the north because it is stronger. Another demonstration was with water, and it showed how the water flowed directly down when on the equator, because there is no pull from the sides. When poured in the Southern hemisphere it flowed clockwise, and in the North counterclockwise. It was very interesting, especially seeing it in a hands-on kind of way; I don’t think I ever would have learned the concepts of that without that way of learning. It was a very informative visit.
After this we had lunch at a little restaurant close by. It was very good, but I wasn’t very hungry. We walked in and there was an entire hand-crafted canoe filled with fruit, and not the normal fruit we’re used to seeing. There was tomate de arbol, and that is about the only one out of the many that I can remember. Lunch was then potato soup, then chicken and rice and a small salad. I didn’t eat much. Then it was back to the bus for a beautiful bus ride to Cayambe. We drove up and through and around the mountains on a pretty new paved road that was nicer than the roads in IN. We arrived at our compound and had one educational thing to do, converse in Spanish with one of our trainers, before we were able to play!!! I was so excited because we were able to play some real soccer!!! It was so much fun! I was rather worried at first because of the altitude, but I was fine, sort of. I even scored a couple of goals!! Then dinner and some Peace Corps volunteer socializing, then bed!

My new family (for awhile)

Sat. Feb. 27th, 2010
Today was my first full day with my host family. They are a great family, and they have had plenty of other volunteers stay here with them so they are quite used to speaking slowly and our customs, which is great. There is Edwin and Maggie and their 2 kids Pacha and Michaila. We live on a large farm in a little town outside of Cayambe. They have a very cute farmhouse that has 3 stories, but is still kinda small, especially in comparison to what we have back in the States. I have electricity and running water that can be hot. I have my own room which is bigger than at least one of the houses I have lived in. I wake up in the morning with a beautiful view of the Cayambe volcano and other mountains. The town itself is nice, small, but nice. There are enough stores and places to buy things, there are also cabinas (telephone booths, kind of), so at some point I will be able to call home; when we’re not busy learning to language and doing other Peace Corps training things. This whole experience is rather daunting now that I’m here and immersed in the culture and language. The culture part isn’t as hard to adjust to, but for me the language is giving me lots of problems. I just find it so difficult to remember all the words and just speaking is proving to be an enormous challenge for me. I’m trying, but I’m worried it’s just not enough. But, I have only been here for 1 ½ weeks, so I think I just need to give it time, and keep working hard.

First entry

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Hola!!! Today was another day full of information. We spent the day in the auditorium listening to the Peace Corps people talk about safety and security, diarrhea, malaria, and technical things relating to agriculture. It was a long day. All of the information was very good, but I haven’t been feeling all that well lately and have been really tired, so it was difficult paying attention during the talks. We finally finished at 5 and a bunch of us went outside for my favorite part of the day: soccer!!! We have a lot of talented people here with us! My team was awesome!! We kicked butt and I was on top of my game, and made 3 goals!! So far I still feel like this isn’t real, that I’m just on vacation somewhere in the states. I’m a little apprehensive about going to live with my host family.



Hello everyone!!

SO I have finally begun a blog, this is the first time I have had fast internet and the time to do this, and of course I have forgotten the zip drive with all of my previous blog writtings on it, so you will all have to wait a little while longer to actually read how my new adventure has been so far.

As of now, things are still going rather well, I have a great host family and have actually been eating better/healthier here than in the States. Tomorrow we have a fun day planned. We have a soccer tournament amongst the comunities of volunteers and a little parade type thing, and then a barbaque. I´m really looking forward to the break from the constant influx of information and for something different and fun! Well I have to go. We, the girls in my community have to pick up our uniforms that we got tailor made for us for $8.50!! Can you believe it?! ANd then we have to run to catch the last bus to our town. I´ll post more later!!

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government of the Peace Corps