things that are great here:
- walking 7 miles through the Andes mountains every day
- being followed on the streets by adorable baby lambs/goats/cows
- when it’s bright outside, people walk around with umbrellas to block the sun and for some reason it always makes me smile
- wine nights after class
- FRUITS. i cannot recognize at least half of the fruits that i see at the markets here but my host mom makes really great juice with them.
- beer comes in 24 oz bottles and costs $1.50
- the cheesy, romantic music i always hear playing from tiendas and kids’ cell phones. i can’t get enough. example:
- super chevere! <— means “super cool” and is the phrase of choice for everyone in this country. i hear it at least 12 times a day. it is obviously now my favorite thing to say.
things I could do without:
- being followed home by geese that can run as fast as i can and peck at my legs.
- SPIDERS. there are some really huge ones here. one of them built a lair at the training center and i swear it just stares at me sometimes.
- seeing men peeing on the sidewalks. every day when i walk home i see at least one man peeing on the side of a building.
- dead dogs on the streets 😦
- scary barking dogs on the streets that follow us and snarl menacingly
- these trucks that drive through my neighborhood really, really slowly at all hours of the day and night with a man SCREAMING unintelligible things from a megaphone. i want to say he is usually selling potatoes, but i can’t be sure.
- public buses. they are a scary roller coaster ride from hell. they are always packed so you have to stand and then they go wildly careening through the windy mountain roads at warp speeds. i have fallen face first into so many armpits i can’t even begin to count. upside: they cost 25 cents per ride in Tumbaco and Quito, and you can travel across the country (12+ hours) for $10.
- there is one type of beer sold in the entire country, and it tastes like natty.
On a completely unrelated note, we’ve been focusing on HIV/AIDS education and prevention in training lately and I love it. Our program manager showed us this video on the importance of education and empowerment for girls. Even though it simplifies the problem of marginalization of women and girls in developing countries to an almost ridiculously basic level, I thought it was powerful and well-made. I love the idea of working with girls on self esteem so that they can make their own decisions regarding their health and education. I hope it’s something that I can focus on when I get to site.