My whole life has been spent floating down a stream, just allowing the water to push me in the direction that was the easiest. Whenever I came upon a branch in the stream, I never tried to fight the current to get to the other side, I just kept right on floating down the stream. But at this point in my life I am no longer “going with the flow” or floating down the stream; I am now swimming upstream, against the current, in the toughest experience I have had to face yet. I am in my third week in my site, and I am just starting to become accustomed to living here, even though I am still in a transitional phase waiting until I can move into Rebecca's place and actually feel at home. Things are starting to progress with work though. I have been talking with my counterparts and after our trip to Cuenca we will finally be able to start really planning for my next few months. I have communicated with them that for the first few months all I can do are interviews with the families to get some information about the resources and knowledge available to the people in my communities. This task is going to be difficult for me, because it involves pushing myself onto people and into their lives, but it is a necessary step in my integration and familiarization of these communities. It will also be a big help in developing my language skills, which are drastically improved from when I arrived in country, but still leave a lot to be desired.
I am spending a lot time in my new cement box of home, but trying more everyday to get out there and let my face become known in the community. Peace Corps says that all new volunteers have to live with host families for the first three months, but I was put in my community in an empty house that consists of three empty rooms; my bedroom which is 6 ½ feet by 10 feet with one teeny tiny window in the top right corner of my box, my bathroom which is actually kind of nice but had no toilet seat when I moved in and no hot water, and my kitchen with only a sink and nothing more. I spent the first week here doing a bunch of nothing, and the second week I got off my but and started trying to make my temporary home a little nicer. I still don't have a stove, but as I will moving into Rebecca's house soon, I don't see the need to purchase a gas tank for $50 when I will be inheriting hers. I did manage to obtain a bed, borrowed from my counterpart. This made my life here dramatically better, as I didn't have to sleep on the cement floor any longer!! This week I have been doing a lot of thinking about how to make my new home more homey feeling so I will be happy here. I am trying to make plans to construct a sofa, which will be a large undertaking for me, but with the possibility of a great outcome!!! I am also learning how to crochet and knit, with the hope that I can eventually make blankets!!! I am trying to keep busy so I won't think about the fact that I have 2 years ahead of me here. I have to take it slowly and think short term. I can do this. It is a challenge that I am not going to back down from.
This has been long over due, but I finally have both the will and the time to write this and update everyone on the goings-on in my life. I will try to pick up where I left off, which was halfway through my site visit. The only eventful thing that occurred during the rest of my trip was the earthquake. I was laying on the mattresses on the floor of Rebecca's apartment and I felt the house start to move around me. It rather freaked me out, because I has never experienced that before. It wasn't a bad one, only 4.4, but it was still a little scary!!! After our site visits, we traveled back to Cayambe and our families for one last week. We spent the week enjoying our new friends and family and preparing for our 2 week technical trip. We left Monday morning the 5th of April for Riobamba. It is about a 3 ½ hour bus ride, but aside from the vendors constantly getting on the bus and yelling, it is usually a pretty uneventful trip. We got into Riobamba somewhat late and just spent some time settling in. I am going to just write a list of all the places we went because it was a rather busy trip.
Tuesday:Chambo, a city about 30 min outside of Riobamba, traveling by camioneta; we went to a farm of a man that is organic and has perfected the methods of planting crops in higher sierra climates. We also learned about grafting of plants to better the species and production. In the evening we visited a volunteer in Riobamba that works with local farmers and markets
Wednesday: ESPOCH, a local university, we visited a part of it that has a farm cared for by the students, with organic agriculture and small animal production. In the afternoon we went to another aspect of the school, the lab that works with microorganisms and organic remedies.
Thursday: San Bernardo, another volunteer site. We spent 2 days here learning about goat and goat milk production, small animal management, and gardens. It is beautiful country!!!
Saturday: We spent this day in Riobamba looking at the local markets, then we traveled to Chambo again, but this time to play with bees!!!! We went to a farm where a man raises bees and makes honey, actually uses all products of the bees and sells it in his store in Riobamba- ApiCare. It was a fascinating day, and a lot of fun!!!
Sunday: We went to my site, Cajabamba, to see the local market there, because it is a rather large market! After this we spent the rest of the day traveling to the future site, Salinas of Bolivar, of Patrick, another new volunteer in our omnibus. We didn't have anything planned for the evening, so before dinner Carrie and I decided to hike up the mountain that we could see from our hostal windows!! It was a really short hike and the view is amazing!!!
Monday: We went on a tour around Salinas to see all the local businesses, because Salinas is a tourist town, and specializes in making Chocolates, cheese, mushrooms, and other small products.
Tuesday: We visited greenhouses throughout the area most of the day. We went up to the Paramo above Salinas, riding in the back of a pickup truck- freezing our butts off!!! It was soooo cold! But also a lot of fun!!
Wednesday: We went to little town way up in the mountains, and worked in a greenhouse for most of the day, with some very interesting people!!! Then had and even more interesting and thrilling ride down the mountain that took about half the time it did to get there!
Thursday: Spent the day traveling to Chaupi and met up with another of the tech trip goups and had a fun evening visiting!
Friday: First went to La Libertad to see tire gardens then traveled to Quito and was reunited with the rest of our Ag group in our hostal!! Oh how I missed them!!!
We had an awesome week in Quito where in our off time we socialized and just had a blast!! Thursday we all became official volunteers of Peace Corps in a beautiful ceremony at the ambassador's house, which is by far the best house in Ecuador!!! After a nice bagel breakfast there we returned to the Peace Corps office for some more socializing and a barbeque. We also started a small soccer game which I could not say no to even though I was in a dress and high heels! (and I still kicked butt!!!) Then it was back to the hostal to rest and get ready for a night out in the mariscal in Quito!! I have to say we are either a very lucky or a very smart group, because nobody got attacked or robbed that night. I'd like to think it's because our parents all taught us well, always looking over your shoulder! Friday it was off to our sites, our first step out into the unknown!!!