|My Futbol Team!|
The second event that I want to mention was our day of appreciation for our families in Tumbaco. We were put in charge of hosting this event which included games, a dance (which I was a part of), lots and lots of food, and a futbol game. It was a really wonderful time to spend with our host families and each others families, especially the ones that we had become close to over the past three months. Stories were told, including the story of a friend who on the very first day of being at his host families house locked them out of the house. Not only did he lock them out of the house, but they also didn't have the key to the gate so they were locked in the garden for a few hours. Following the stories, we played games which included egg races, three legged races, and others. My host mom, Anita, participated in the egg race and won! A friend and I attempted to carry an egg between our foreheads but didn't make it very far before we dropped the egg. At the end of the games, I left with nine of my fellow trainees and got ready for the dance we had practicing all week. Now, this dance was a traditional dance of the Andes and included amazing costumes. The girls wore bright skirts and beautiful blouses. The outfit also included the traditional necklace of gold beads, bracelet of red beads, hats, and scarves. The boy's outfit included fur chaps, white shirts, ponchos, and masks. The dance went well and the crowd cheered loudly for us. At first, I hadn't wanted to participate in this dance, but being a part of it was truly a great experience. It is these opportunities that I must take advantage of, and these opportunities that make me feel more and more integrated into the beautiful culture that is Ecuador. After the dance, we ate lots and lots of food, and I enjoyed spending time with my host family. I looked around as I ate and was amazed at the relationships that had formed during these past three months. Everyone was full of smiles and laughter and it was clear that there was true bonds between the trainees and their families.
|We are now officially Peace Corps Volunteers!|
It is now May, and I have officially been in my site of Cotacachi for two and half weeks. Sometimes it feels that I have been here for much, much longer. Things have been going pretty well. I have my ups and downs, but that is to be expected during the first months in site. It's hard. Every day I am faced with things that are outside my comfort zone, and I constantly must tell myself, “you can do this!” However, with each obstacle I face I know that I am getting stronger and more confident. My days are pretty busy here. Monday through Friday I have been working with the reserve with various things that include, reforestation projects, translating information in their information center into English, helping with trail work, going on inspections to see whether a farmer can cut down trees or use water from the reserve, and recently working at one of the nearby communities. It's hard because I want to learn as much as I can about the reserve, but also need time to integrate into the community. It is a balance that I am still working on. Hopefully with time, this too will become easier.
This past Wednesday I was very excited. I went with my counterpart to visit a small indigenous community called Morochos, that is located near the reserve. We met with members of the community as well as with a guy who has his own NGO and is also working with this community. I believe that it was destiny because this guy is from Vermont and used to be a professor at UVM. What a small world! The community is interested in re-starting a project of an integral farm, which would also include a vivero (tree nursery). I felt my pulse start racing as I learned more and more about this project and the potential that it could have. The structures for having chickens, pigs, and gardens are already there. It just needs motivation and some hard work to get it going again. I kept thinking how wonderful to be involved with creating a vivero to supply trees for reforestation projects, and helping to re-start this integral farm that could later be used as a model for other communities. The idea is to be sustainable and to create a closed system where your resources replenish themselves, and I believe that this project has this potential. I walked away that day with my mind racing of the possibilities. I have only been here for a couple of weeks and I know that with time things will become more clear, and I will get a better handle on things, but it sure feels wonderful to at least have one concrete plan, one thing to occupy my time here. During training, we were told several times that the biggest quality that we need to have when arriving to our sites is patience. We are Americans with American mentalities and work ethic. This means that we thrive to hit the ground running and its very hard for us to be patient. During training I heard this and thought nothing of it. I can be patient. However, now that I am here, it couldn't be more true. It is so hard to sit around not knowing what to do with myself every day. However, I feel lucky because already within the first two weeks I have something to work on. I am excited to see how this all unfolds and to see what other things it may bring about. For now, I continue to remind myself that I can do this, to have patience, and to savor my time here. It's hard, and I often find myself dreaming and wishing I could return home, but I try to focus on the little things and deal with things one day at a time. I can't emphasize enough how much the support and love from home means to me. It is what gets me through and what makes me know I can do this. I miss home with all my heart, but with each day Cotacachi becomes closer to also becoming home. As always, Love from Ecuador!