Monday, August 24, 2009

Settling In

Well, we swore in last Wednesday and we are officially Peace Corps Volunteers!

I´ll try to recap everything that has happened since my last post.

So we came back from the tech trip in Manabí and had our final two weeks of language and technical classes in Cayambe. The last weekend there was topped off by a huge party, complete with two roasted pigs ... delish. Then the whole group of volunteers headed to a karaoke bar to make fools of ourselves. Unfortunately, the karaoke didn´t work, but we still had a great time nonetheless.

After Cayambe, we all headed to Quito for our final days as trainees. Quito is a huge city. They have everything. Taco Bell, McDonald´s, Mountain Dew ... it was like I was back in the US for a few days. Except everyone spoke Spanish. And Taco Bell didn´t have fire sauce. Ironically, Taco Bell was the only place in the city where everything was in English.

The week in Quito was, for me, highlighted by a series of challenges. Food challenges, to be specific. On our first day, the co-trainers (current volunteers who train the newbies) challenged another volunteer and me to a McDonald´s eat-off. A Big Mac, Cheeseburger, McFiesta (which is like an all-mayonaise version of a Whopper,) large fries, soda, and a McFlurry. I think this was one of those Pyrric victories. I won, but for the rest of the day I sure didn´t feel like a winner. I should have learned my lesson, but the next day was the Taco Bell challenge. A Crunch Wrap Supreme, Gordita, Burrito Ciclon, Nachos Bell Grande, and a Taco Supreme. Taco Bell never tasted so good.

Anyway, we finished our time in Quito at a swearing-in ceremony at the Ambassador´s residendce. And when I say residence, I really mean mansion. And when I say mansion, I really mean feifdom. Haha, but seriously this place is huge. Since I have the voice of a choir of angels, I was chosen to sing the US and Ecuadorian national anthems in front of everyone. There was a huge competetion to get to sing the hymns. It was like Peace Corps American Idol. I gave my competition a huge glass of room temperature milk right before the finals, and ... ok there was no competition, I was drafted obviously because I´m the the most handsome volunteer. The Ecuadorian anthem actually went well ... it was the US one that I screwed up. There was no intro to the instrumentals, so I wound up singing the whole thing off. I´m lucky the Ambassador didn´t revoke my American citizenship.

After the swearing-in, we headed off to our sites. Considering the amount of luggage we had with us, I was surprised how smoothly we pulled the move off. On the 8 hour bus ride down, we got to watch a Columbian army movie, and a straight to DVD Anaconda sequel. I had no idea what was going on. At one point, they chopped the snake´s head off. You would think that would be enough. I was waiting for the credits to roll, when the snake grew another head, started laughing, and bit the head of the human off. I still can´t figure that one out, but it was kind of poetic.

We are at our site now. This town is a really cool place. The weather is awesome and there is a river right behind our house. There is no cell service, and the nearest internet is about an hour away, but we are making due with the lack of connection to the outside world. There is a huge basketball court where everyone plays at night. The hoops are about 12 feet high and the court is the size of a soccer field. Anyone ever play 2 on 2 full court before? We are staying with a host family for about a month or so, and then we can start looking for our own place. The family we are staying with is so cool. The mom is an amazing cook. The dad used to be president of the community. He´s like 70 something years old, but the other night he comes out and starts playing basketball with us. It was unbelievable.

I think I´ve been on the internet for about 3 hours now. I can´t really think in paragraphs anymore, and my sentence structure is starting to buckle. I bought a bicycle yesterday and I´m going to have a 40 minute ride to work everyday. I put a bunch of photos on facebook. I had a bowl of fish soup for lunch.

Thats it, I´m done. Adios

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