super chevere

things that are great here:

  • walking 7 miles through the Andes mountains every day

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

Tomorrow through Friday we will be on a “tech trip” to Pedro Vicente and Santo Domingo, which are two cities about 3 hours west of Quito. We will be visiting other volunteers at their sites to learn about their projects and how they are carrying them out. We will also be giving a few charlas to kids at schools in the area. I am doing a presentation on oral hygiene and another on self esteem for 7th graders. Our days will be packed full and exhausting, but I’m excited to get out of the training center for a few days and see what real volunteers do on a day to day basis.
This weekend was a lot of fun. On Friday night I went with one of my friend’s host family to the historical district of Quito. One of her host brothers studied tourism in university so he knows a lot about the history of the buildings and churches in Quito. Her three host brothers and mom drove us into the city and walked us around, telling us about the legends of the old churches and the history surrounding the area. We also saw the presidential palace and a bunch of memorials for various battles.
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We left for Quito at 7 and normally it only takes about 40 minutes to get there by car, but there was so much traffic we didn’t get into the city until after 9. By the time we got into the city I had to pee so bad I had to convince my friend’s host brother pull over so I could run into a random office building and use the bathroom. They made fun of me for it the rest of the night but I wasn’t expecting a 2 hour ride when I got into the car in Tumbaco!!
On Saturday we went into Quito again to celebrate two birthdays. We got mexican food and margaritas and then went to a microbrewery that sold 5 different types of beers! 5 beers is HUGE here, the biggest selection I’ve seen before this was 2 beers. Normally it’s just one (Pilsener).
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I’m loving being a tourist here on the weekends…I’ve been trying to take as much advantage of Quito as possible because once I’m in site I’ll have a lot fewer friends nearby and a lot less time/money to travel. I’ll also be a LOT further from the bigger cities. I’m hoping to get some more good hikes and museum-hopping in in the next few weeks. I’m off to finish packing for this week. Hasta pronto!
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