An interesting week it´s been! Had my pocket picked on an overcrowded bus outside of Cayambe last Saturday. It was in my front pocket! So whoever got it is pretty good. Peace Corps was quite helpful with credit card and Identification stuff. Seems like the occassional petty theft is not much of a surprise. Anyway I´ve learned my lesson and have all kinds of new places to keep money and ID.
In my community we have had 2 mingas (work parties) to get our garden project underway. We cleared a chunk of land at the local health clinic and built 5 raised beds. The plan is to grow vegetables in 3 beds and abonos verde (green manures) in the other 2, using a rotation system.
The work has been fun, and we have had good community participation which is one of the key components of a useful project. A major problem is the lack of water - though it´s supposed to be the rainy season in the Sierra right now in reality it is very dry. Ecuador in general has been suffering through a very severe drought.
I´d like to post some photos, but alas they have all been lost! A glitch at the local photo shop, I was hoping to have them all ( about 90 photos) burned to a CD, but they accidentally erased the contents of my card. I was a little bummed out, but frankly I have been stymied by the whole photo thing here using PC´s. Again, it makes me long for my Mac.
This past Wednesday a group of us had lunch with the US Ambassador to Ecuador. Can´t remember if I have posted about it already or not. Learned alot about US Ecuador relations, Ecuadorean politics. We ate lunch at a fancy hostal out in the campo - it was a treat to have some ravioli and a real salad.
My Spanish is improving, a little. I can almost have a conversation with my 4 year old sister. I am frustrated to not be progressing faster, but I have to keep plugging away. This past week in training we heard presentations about our future permanent sites, all in Spanish. Most of the sites look pretty good - we will know our destinations this coming Tuesday.
Yestrerday we had a tech training on a great local farm - learned how to castrate cuyes (guinea pigs - a culinary delicacy in Ecuador) and chanchos (hogs) Most of us in the Ag Program will end up working with animals one way or the other.
To those of you posting comments, again I really appreciate it. It´s good to hear from you. Colin, your note prompted me to create the following list, and by the way you guys have a great trip to Mexico!
New things I am learning (besides Spanish)
To remember not to put toilet paper in the toilet. It goes in the trashcan next to the toilet.
To smile and say thank you when I am served soup with hooves in it.
To wait for the next bus so I can actually sit down (a standing rider is an easier target to pick)
To appreciate the games of soccer, and Ecuavolley ( a local derivative of volleyball - 3 players on a side and a super high net - impossible to spike)
To not drink too many 70 cent bottles of Pilsener (the popular local brand of cerveza)
To not schedule anything more than 3 days in advance
Ok and here´s the sentimental one - to appreciate the opportunity I´ve been given.
That´s it for now.