Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ode to the Tank Truck

I want to dedicate this blog to the Tank Truck -otherwise known as the money truck. This is why I love you:
1. You have no doors, but you have tiny bullet proof windows that help me see into your soul.
2. I know that you are near even when I can´t see you because I´ll see men walking around in camouflauge with big guns (and I am not referring to their arms).
3. I see you every day and that´s important to me money truck! You are at the Gas Station, the pharmacy, the mall, and the supermarket.
4. I love you because it´s really exciting when I walk outside the grocery store and you have just arrived and suddenly I am surrounded by lots of men with scary guns. You protect me tank truck.
5. I love you because I don´t know how people get in or out of you....because you really have no doors. You are so mysterious.
6. I love you because you are different from all the other money trucks - the wells fargo money trucks have nothing on you!
7. I love you because your green color is perfectly highlighted by the murky river that you often are close to.
Thank you tank truck! You always manage to brighten my cloudy smoggy Guayaquil day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A night in the Indigenous Village.

There is a travel agency in Cuenca by a group of indigenous people (indians) in order to help their struggling community. I thought that would be the coolest thing ever to go spend a night in the community and see their way of life. So, we went!
We travelled about 45 minutes outside of Cuenca up to the top of a mountain. We were at about 9000 feet and had the most amazing view! There are few places that I've been in my life that exude such tranquility. The beauty of the place was enough to satisfy me, but that was only the beginning of our adventures.
That night, we were greeted by Carmen, who was in charge of making us feel comfortable and feeding us! We warmly welcomed us into her house and put a towel over the cold chairs so that we weren't as cold. This was the sitting room.
Carmen was nice enough to prepare us a FEAST!! We started enough with some bread and cheese...actually, it would be more appropriate to say cheese and a little bread on the side. No joke - I had at least 8 ounces of cheese on my bread. It was incredible! Haha. They have a cheese factory in the town so that's a stable food.
After eating and hanging out with Carmen for a while, we headed down to the local Catholic Church to catch the end of the meeting. We were celebrities just for showing up, probably cause we're white. People got out their cameras.
Then, we were taken to our lovely hotel room. It was on the 2nd floor of the schoolhouse in the storage room. I'm assuming it's the nicest place that they had.
We shared a tiny little bed covered with lots of wool blankets. There was no bathroom and no access to water. So, going to the bathroom was definitely an adventure! The room got down into the 40s that night, but I'm pretty sure Carmen gave us most of her blankets and probably froze that night. I was a nervous sleeper since we didn't even have a real lock on the door! I am in Ecuador and like to feel secure at night.
So, the next morning, we went in the search for a bathroom. It's hard to do without a lot of trees and when everyone keeps walking by in order to fetch water. The sheep were definitely watching us!
Here's a view from the top with the nice wool shawl Carmen lent me so that I wouldn't freeze to death.

Alright...I have to cut out some of the details. It was a crazy day! They gave us medicine water about every 10 minutes. AKA...herbal teas with medicinal purposes. They offered to add a little whiskey, to which we politely declined. (This is me after TOO MUCH medicine WATER).
We watched as they prepared lunch over a wood fire stove in clay pots, which they still use to this day.
We watched them gut the guinea pig....that was SICK...but fascinating. It was our lunch. We laughed how in the US it's a pet and we're going to eat it for lunch.
We hiked around the mountains identifying different plants that can be used with medicine, and we went with Manuel to the Cheese Factory which appeared rather unsanitary and had a gross smell. Nonetheless, I still like cheese.
We watched them cut the wool from the sheep with dull scissors that seemed appropriate for a kindergarten and not for sheering sheep.
We played dress up in the women's clothes. I am not a very cute indigenous woman! Haha, good thing I'm not one permanently.
It was quite the learning experience.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Three dollars and sixty cents and a movie from the Black Market

The longer we are in Ecuador, the more our American roots are showing. After a long day enjoying the beautiful gardens of Malecon, Natausha and I wanted nothing more than to eat some American food and watch a movie.
The problems with that desire:
1. We only had $5.40 that we could spend between the two of us and that includes the dollar that we needed to get to church today.
2. We had none of the ingredients for the American food that we wanted most - Apple Crisp
3. We also don't have any movies in the apartment
Luckily, we are problem solvers!
We went to the grocery store with high hopes and bought all of the ingredients for apple crisp with only $3.60. That a bargain (that's practically shop lifting it's so cheap). Then, we'd seen a store in the mall before that sold 4 movies for $5. I'm pretty sure the copyrights just aren't important here and therefore, every movie you buy is pretty much a black market copy. Sadly enough, we couldn't find the black market movie store. OH NO! We can't have an American Saturday without a movie. So we got back and proceeded to ask all of our neighbors until we were successful. We had Apple Crisp that was extra tasty, except for the fact that the brown sugar is different here, and we watched She's the Man, was funny!
It was probably equally as funny watching us watch the movie. We don't have a DVD player so we had to watch it on my computer which has to be plugged in to make it through a whole movie and we only have 2 plugs in this house that I can plug my computer in. So, we got the computer situated on the counter and we are chilling on the couch. However, my volume doesn't work very well without speakers or headphones, so we plugged in my head phones that have about a 3 foot cord and Natausha and I each got one earphone. So, we were really close to the computer on the couch right next to the cupboard in the dark trying to watch a movie and eat apple crisp.
Who said we couldn't have an adventure for $3.60?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Poem - By Becky

F - Fresh, crisp air
A - Apple Pie
L - Leaves of red, orange, and yellow
L - Laughter

Okay, as you can tell from the poem, I successfully passed my 3rd grade English class where we learned to write these poems. Today I woke up with a desire for Fall. It´s not coming to come because I am in an endless summer. What a nightmare! Sometimes at night, I turn on my air conditioner in my room and it cools my room down from its normal 82 degrees to 74. I make it cold so that I can use my Alpaca blanket. I get to cuddle up with my blanket in my bed and have sweet dreams of Fall weather.
I think life is better in the Fall. I think it´s the coziest time of year. Summer makes every one spread out and leave on vacations and trips. Fall brings everyone back together under the same roof. It´s exciting when the leaves start changing colors and the wind brings this crisp freshness. It´s the smell of homemade apple die and dehydrated fruits. It´s putting on a sweater for the first time and finding the socks again after a long hot summer. Halloween parties, games, and laughter. Cute little kids in costumes. Raking up the crunchy leaves and then jumping in them. Flirting with the new crush in the ward or in your class (this is for us singles...). New roommates and friends. The excitement of football games at BYU or beautiful Fall hikes on a Saturday afternoon. Of course I love Fall! Since I missed this Fall, next year I get to enjoy it twice as much. That´ll be out of control.
Climatic Differences: This week we taught our workshop at in Huancavilco. We jammed 35 people into a smaller sized room that was already at 85 degrees. Even with the fans on, it was still 85 degrees. The interesting thing is that when people are used to never having a-c or being in rooms with fans, they get cold really fast. Even if there is air conditioning, within 10 minutes someone will ask us to turn it off because they are cold. The second day, people come wearing sweaters. I always laugh and wonder how someone can wear a sweater when it´s 85 in the classroom, but somehow they get cold.
Men: In Provo, sometimes when I´d go running down University, I´d get a few silly boys that yelled cat calls out of the window or honked their horns. I would snicker and move on with life. in the 20 walk from our apartment to the Employment Center, things often get out of control! From the second we step out of our apartment, the comments begin. Sometimes the comments are accompanied by whistles, creepy looks, honking the horns in the car (which is another issue). Unfortunately, we have to walk by this large construction site every day, yesterday I think there were about 20 guys on the corner...working, but they all stopped, every last one as we walked by. I tried to roll my eyes and ignore them, but I really wanted to laugh because it was out of control. Luckily, right after we walked by, the boss noticed that they´d stopped working and reprimanded them, and told them to get back to work. I´m going to feel so unpopular in the US after being so harassed here on a daily basis, haha.
Driving: I feel like I´ve gotten used to the crazy Guayaquil driving habits. The first few days and weeks I feared for my life - every time I got in a car or crossed the street. The concept of lanes in Guayaquil doesn´t exist. If there are 2 lanes painted on the street, somehow it ends up being some sort of jumbled mess of 4 lanes. Blinkers - pointless! If you want to cut someone off, switch lanes, turn, randomly stop, just honk your horn and hope the people listen. There are overpasses that have been built so that they didn´t have to put up stop lights. There definitely are no car inspections - which mean that all of the cars are older and pollute the air a lot! It´s a joke to watch! I should take a video one day for your viewing pleasure. It really is astonishing. I always feel bad when I see the Driver´s Ed people out on the road in the car for the first time, that must be a horrifying experience to learn how to drive here. But, it sure is funny to watch.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Fish Market

wow - I think that was the coolest yet sickest place I have ever been! They had all the fresh fish there and it was sick! They had shark, shrimp (Ecuador is a huge exporter of shrimp....that means it´s cheap here), corvina....okay EVERYTHING and the BIGGEST fish I have ever seen in my life. I didn´t realize they came so big.
I didn´t have my camera today so I will paint a picture of the seen with words. It was like a HUGE gymnasium full of fish! The fisherman just plopped the gigantic fish on the table, got out the machete and started whacking it! Then he would wash it down, and the blood-water would just spray across the floor where we were walking. Luckily I was wearing heels, but poor Natausha was wearing white flats.
The smell of the fish was overwhelming. Actually, I can still smell the fish now in my mind.
We got so excited with all the fish that afterwards we went to go get a fish dinner....Corvina (might be my favorite), rice, and fried bananas with a good ol´Inca Cola. It was a very ghetto little diner where apparently all the waiters had to be....uh, different. Yeah, that´s where our boss wanted us to experience an authentic Ecuadorian dinner. The food was tasty.
Alright, we´re off to Quito tomorrow morning. It ought to be an amazing adventure! "I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills...I love the fountains..." (please finish the song in your head). Quito is located at 9000 feet with volcanoes, colonial buildings, and is relatively close to the jungle! It will be an adventure. Stay tuned next week for updates!
I love ya´ll!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Revelation and the Week

I love General Conference. Elder Holland's talk was so amazing! I don't think there was a dry eye in our whole room. How often do we forget how close Heavenly Father really is and how we has sent angels to help us and surround us - seen and unseen. I received so many little pieces of revelation today. It's amazing how every one can leave from conference hearing different things and feeling different things. The spirit takes certain things to each person's heart so that their questions -written or unwritten - are answered.

This is down at Puerto Santa Ana. It is a beautiful River Walk area. I love the Pineapple looking fountains. Juan and Victor are so nice to always show us around the city and keep us happy and busy! We are very grateful to have good friends in a crazy city.
This was an awesome group. The people in this group reminded me so much of the members of one area of my mission - which made it so much more special. They showed us so much love and gratitude for the service which we rendered. At the end, to celebrate, we had a little party and they gave us all sorts of gifts so that we don't forget Ecuador. We felt famous as everyone took out their cameras and wanted to take pictures as well. Natausha and I were talking afterwards and just commented on how the charity of these people is going to change the way we act and give afterwards as well. A little gift, a kind note can make such a big difference to the person.
A house....let's all be grateful for the beautiful homes that we have!
Our other group this week. The ex-prostitutes. I'm so happy that the nuns helped these ladies change their lives. It's so sad to think try to understand what would drive a person to that lifestyle to where they think that they have no other choice. There are good people in all religions trying to help people to really have a better life and come unto Christ. They were cute because we had them create a Lemonade Stand and they named it The Will of God.