I made it through my first full week of training and I am pooped! It wasn’t even technically a full week – we had today off because it was a national holiday, “batalla de pichincha.” The holiday commemorates a major battle in Ecuador’s fight for independence from Spain and is also the day the president swears in every 4 years…which happened today! OH and Pichincha is the region Quito/Tumbaco are in…I’m not sure whether they are called states here, but it’s basically the same thing as a state. I celebrated with my fellow Peace Corps trainees by exploring Tumbaco a bit then taking a bus to the nearby town of Kumbaya, which has a GIANT mall that could rival any in the US. It has pretty much any American/European store you could imagine but the prices are ridiculous…I definitely will not be shopping there much on my Peace Corps salary. I wanted to get some black flats so I went into Payless and the shoes ranged from $30-$50…WHAT. No thanks. I was pretty excited about the food court though and obviously went straight for a cheeseburger, but after eating pretty much nothing but bread and fruit and rice for the last week and a half the burger did not make me feel awesome. After the mall a few of us went to visit one of our compañeros in the hospital nearby. He got his appendix taken out a few months ago and they accidentally left part of it in him, and it got infected. No bueno! He had to get surgery here to get the rest of it removed but he is doing fine and will be back to training in a few days. All in all, it was a great way to spend a day off!
Training has been…educational, but exhausting. It goes from 8-5 Monday through Friday, and consists of all sorts of classes on language, culture, safety, and so much more…highlights of this week included a 2-hour lecture on intestinal parasites and a session where current Peace Corps Volunteers came and spoke about what it’s actually like to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. It’s hard to imagine what life will be like once our three months of training is over and there are still so many unknowns that it was really helpful to get insights from people who have been in our shoes. We also broke into tiny Spanish classes based on the level we tested into (I’m in intermedio-medio, which is the 4th level out of 6) and my class only has 4 people, so it will force me to practice speaking WAY more, which is what I struggle with the most. The community health group also stayed after one day to help clear out space in the field behind the training center for a garden. We are each going to get our own little section of the garden and we are going to learn how to grow things!! I am really excited about it, I’ve always wanted to learn how to garden and hopefully I’ll learn enough to be able to start a garden in my community. Training is going to be a lot of work, with countless homework assignments, tests, essays, and presentations to supplement the 9 hours we spend in class every day, but hopefully it will all be worth it once we get to our communities and have to be successful on our own.
By far my favorite part of every day is walking to and from class. It’s about 3.5 miles each way so it takes about and hour and 15 minutes to walk to and from the training center, but it’s amazing. I walk with a group of about 5-7 people and there is a trail that goes from the center of Tumbaco right to the training center, so we never have to walk on the road with the crazy cars. The trail winds through the woods and the mountains and the views are incredible, not to mention it’s the only opportunity I get to exercise during the week. I was so sad the other night when we had to stay late to garden, because by that point it was getting dark and we had to take the bus. These are some pictures I’ve taken on the trail to the training center:
We run into this little feller on the trail every day, always wearing the same toddler onesie. SO CUTE.
This is the road the training center is on. I keep meaning to take pictures of the training center itself but I always forget. Next week!
This is the trail we take…there is a woman ahead of us with cows. We saw her later walking the opposite direction, and a while later we ran across the cows just hanging out on the path on their own. I didn’t understand what was happening and I still don’t.
More views of the path and the amazing mountains. I swear one day I will take pictures of humans, but the mountains are just so scenic I can’t stop.
Walking home at dusk with some other volunteers. Perfect way to end the day.
I’ve been trying to remember to take pictures of where I’m living as well, so here are my best attempts:
This is a view of Quito from my neighborhood…it’s a little hard to see through the clouds, but it’s the cluster of tall buildings off in the distance. On clear days you can see it from pretty much anywhere in Tumbaco, and it looks a lot like Oz.
This is the road my house is on. It’s hidden behind the orange wall in the photo on the right.
This is the view from my window – two avocado trees, a lime tree, and mountains! It’s a little cloudy so the mountains are kind of hard to see, but I swear they are there.
This is my adorable room! The giant dog unfortunately has to sleep on the floor, there isn’t enough room for both of us on the bed.
Tomorrow I’m going on a trip with a group of volunteers to “El mitad del mundo,” also known as the equator! We have heard from various sources that it’s anywhere from 40 min to 2 hours away by bus, so it will be an adventure. More pictures and stories to come 🙂