August 27, 2009
So we hit the one week mark at our site tomorrow…. Woooooohooooooooooo… It has been a crazy week.
At first I was a bit homesick. We got to our site and the realization that we were here for two years in a new community with new customs and an equivalent of first grade Spanish quickly set in. That coupled with the fact that I was missing home, our families, and our friends made the first day here really hard. Fortunately, Rob has been there to cheer me up.
Work has been really rewarding and busy. I have been working with a great organization that works with the campos in our Parochial. This week I worked with a doctor from Quito to test mothers and children for anemia, train health promoters, and assess malnutrition in communities. Malnutrition and anemia are really pressing issues in our community and these preliminary diagnostics are really helpful to figure out what sorts of projects the Campos need/want.
One visit to a Campo was particularly interesting. Rob did not have work that day since his organization was out of town and he had spent the day with our host family who had took him to buy a bike and to a restaurant for lunch; he followed that with an afternoon siesta and a game of Ecua-volley with the men of the community.
I on the other hand, did have work and was told that it was going to be an hour walk so I, left to prepare by myself (Rob usually has more sense of what’s up), had prepared by throwing on my hiking boots and buying a small bottle of water to drag along with me. Other than that though, I did little else. I figured it was just a walk and had honestly only thrown on the hiking boots at the last minute because my flip-flops were dirty and my sneakers were still packed away. I wore my favorite pair of leggings, a shirt-dress, and threw on my purse and aviators and thought I was set to go….. Well… saying that I was underprepared is an under statement… I quickly found out that by walk, they meant uphill hike and by one hour, they meant two. I should’ve known what was up when they said cars couldn’t get up to the community… but it wasn’t till later while I muddling through grass fearing that I was going to be bitten by a poisonous snake that I realized that I was soooooo beyond not prepared for this… We crossed two of those scary wooden bridges that you only see in movies, crossed a big river by jumping onto stones, walked through a forest of trees and grass, and maneuvered our way on cliffs. I definitely learned my lesson though…. I came home more exhausted, tired and hungry than I think I have ever been…
Well it is late now… and I am starting to get distracted by the lizard that is chilling on our bedroom wall… so…. I’ll leave the rest for tomorrow…
p.s. I don’t know if I am being paranoid but I swear the lizard is giving me the evil eye…
August 30, 2009
If only I went to the gym more before I joined the Peace Corps….
I have spent the past few days working with my organization to map out and chart community populations of the campos. This has included making actual maps of the houses and key spots, as well as listing the members of each community. It is really really really exhausting. Both mentally, since it means talking, thinking, and understanding Spanish all day, and physically, since we are walking to/through the campos. For example, yesterday we spent the day mapping out one of the “closer” campos. There is not any regular car service to get to many of the campos, and most of the times to get to a campo you just hitch a ride when you see a car pass by. However, on this particular Saturday there was not one to be found, so we walked. This walk was five hours long there and back up and down a “fun” series of mountains. And while the scenery was gorgeous and we did get to see llamas chilling on the side of the road, I struggled with the heat and sun since we were walking mid-morning. And by struggled, I mean thought I was going to pass out… and by thought I was going to pass out… I mean sweated like no other. All the while, my Ecuadorian counterparts made it look like no big deal and kept asking me why I wasn’t used to walking this much. At least on the plus side, because this apparently will be a regular, if not daily, occurrence I won’t need to worry about lack of exercise while in Ecuador. Also, I am definitely getting better at skipping on top of rocks… yesterday I only fell into two giant puddles which breaks my previous record of three.