Ecuador day #17

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 17- September 5th

By: Alex

 

This morning we got up, had breakfast and met in the hotel lobby at 10. Our first stop today was at a crater of a volcano that is semi active. It was kind of interesting because people live right in the bottom of the crater. Apparently it is good soil for farming. Next stop was the Equator. We learnt about the indigenous groups that live in Ecuador and learnt about the Amazon rain forest. We got to do some activities right on the equator line. One showed how water drains different directions on and beside the equator. Then we all took turns trying to stand an egg on a nail head. It is a lot easier to do right on the line. If you could stand the egg up you got a certificate. We also tried to walk in a straight line on the equator. It is really weird because it’s a lot harder to balance. After the tour we went to another museum to have lunch and it is also the place where they thought the equator was. They thought it was the equator around the 1920s because they didn’t have the sophisticated instruments that we have now. Considering the instruments they were using its pretty amazing that that they were only off by 500 meters. For lunch Geoff gave each buddy group $20. We split into smaller groups and went our own ways for a while. After lunch we went and looked through some shops then met up at 1:30 to go see the planetarium. It was all in Spanish so it was hard to understand. After that we got a group picture on the fake equator line and everyone went up a monument on the “equator” line. Inside the monument there were little museums on each floor. By this time it was only 2:30 and we were scheduled to leave around 4 so everyone went shopping in the little shops around the museum. All the shops generally had the same stuff for sale but each shop was still a little different. At 4 we all met Roger (our bus driver) at the bus and headed to meet Loli and Jose for dinner. We ended up being an hour early to dinner so we all went for a walk around town. Sierra and I went exploring alone. We saw a soccer game and some cool old run-down houses. Dinner was amazing, and the restaurant was gorgeous! It had a view over Quito, we could see all the churches lit up and the Angel of Apocalypse from our table. We all had steak and prawns except for Tia who had what looked like chicken sushi. We all got dessert as well. Dessert was a little piece of cake, a little scoop of ice cream and some cheese with something really bitter. The whole group got certificates of appreciation for coming to Ecuador and building the cancha. Then we got pictures and said our goodbyes to everyone and headed to the airport. Our first flight leaves around 11:25 pm to Atlanta. Then we have 2 more flights, Atlanta to Salt Lake City and Salt Lake City to Spokane. Then home! Everyone’s a little sad to go back to real life, but I think we are all ready to go home and have a good, long sleep in our own beds.

 

Standing on the Old Equator Location (standing on the old Equator location)

IMG_2232(farming community in the crater of a semi dormant volcano)

 

IMG_2231 (standing on the true Equator line)

Ecuador day #16

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 16- September, 4th

By: Noah

Today we all woke up at the Savoy Inn, had breakfast that was buns with jam and fruit and eggs (if you wanted them). We all were ready in the lobby at 8:50 am to catch the bus at 9:00. Roger then drove us to the Papallacta hot springs. It took about an hour and a half to get there and everyone was singing the whole way and taking pictures of the trees and the mountains. We got to Papallacta (the ecological resort) and there were hot springs and paths through the trees. We all got out of the bus at 10:35 and got our tickets that cost US $8.50. Most of us got changed and went into the hot springs right away but Geoff, Stan, Phil and Svet went on the hike that was 4 km long. I think the hot springs was what everyone needed because it was so relaxing and there were a bunch of different pools, all of them different temperatures. We went for lunch at different times. The first group went at noon and Sophie, Eric, Wren, Ali, Tia, Sierra and I went on the hike at 12:30. The hike was really cool – we had to duck under trees and cross rushing water. We stopped at the top and sat on one of the bridges and had a snack with the water rushing 3 feet under us. On the way down we took some old trails that were closer to the water so we could get better pictures. The forest was really green and it was really nice to not be breathing in dust like we were in Malchingui every day. We got back to the hot springs at 1:40 and went for lunch. It was really nice to have something that wasn’t chicken because we have been having chicken for every meal for the last 14 days. After lunch we went back into the hot springs and went into the really cold pool. The ice cold dunk felt really good. We met some people from the States that were 19-21 years old and found out that they were going to college for a semester in Quito and studying agriculture. We got out of the hot springs at 3:40, got changed, got on the bus and left at 4. Everyone was tired so there wasn’t as much singing and we all listened to our own music or slept. We got back to the hotel at 5:45 and went for dinner at 6:30. We waited for 1 hour and 7 minutes to get our food… We all hung out in each others’ rooms for a while before bed and went to sleep at 11.

Another Day Another Eruption at Cotipaxi (another day another eruption at Cotopaxi)

Hiking trail flowers (hiking trail flower)

Hiking Trail Panorama (hiking trail)

Wild Orchids everywhere (wild orchids everywhere)

More Orchids (more orchids)

Spot the Hummingbird (do you the hummingbird?)

Papallacta Hot Springs (Papallacta Hot Springs)

Ecuador day #15

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 15 – September, 3rd

By: Tia

We started today at the crack of dawn, no, earlier than that. Awake at the approximate time of 5:30 am, we sleepily finished our last minute packing, had our last breakfasts with our Malchingui families, said our hard goodbyes and went to Quatros Esquinas to meet Roger and the bus that was taking us back to Quito. Sophie and I were late as usual due to some miscommunications of time.

Then we were off. Malchingui was no longer a place we called home, but a place of fond memories and warmhearted people. We reached Quito in approximately 2 hours after being caught in some brutal traffic. We then greeted the Savoy Inn with much joy as most of us were going for the long anticipated hot showers that were few and far in between since we left Quito. At 10 am, the freshly showered group piled into the bus and headed further into Quito where we would meet the double-decker bus that would take us around Quito.

Once there, we were greeted with a 45 minute wait, if you didn’t know yet, the sun here is intense. We were already burnt from yesterday so we quickly loaded on the sunscreen knowing that this was going to be a long, hot day. Once on the bus, we all climbed to the open topped level of the bus and anticipated the city. Quito is crazy and beautiful. We saw sights of beautiful museums, gothic churches, and crazy road rage. The drivers here have no fear. Big bus or small car, everyone was cutting everyone off. When we weren’t in awe from the beautiful, old architecture, we were in awe of the bravery of some of these drivers. Our first stop was the 40m statue of the Angel of the Apocalypse. Not only was she beautiful, but the view from the observation deck was something else. You could see the intricate churches, the colourful houses and, of course, the crazy traffic patterns. It was almost time to go, so Wren and I quickly bought some fanny packs for our tacky tourist ensembles, and then we were off. Next stop, the long awaited lunch. Once there, we had a special Ecuadorian drink, a delicious beef and rice empanada, then a main course of chicken, an over easy egg and potato and cheese patties. We then made our way to one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. From the outside, all we saw was stone, but once inside we were all dazzled by all of the gold. The church, which took around 160 years to construct, was a masterpiece of gold leaf, intricate cravings, and beautiful paintings. I can honestly say that I have never been so in awe. We then were off to our final stop, Mae’s (a Rotarian that has spent much time with us) art gallery. I don’t know what we were expecting but I think we were all blown away by the talent that Mae has. Her variation in paint and drawing styles was very impressive and stunning. We were lucky enough to get a quick art lesson from her, and then a couple of us got 4 minute portraits. I then was voluntold to draw a portrait too. We then said our goodbyes and were on our way to the Savoy Inn. Dinner was something that we were all very ready for, especially me. I was also the one who got her dinner once everyone else was ready to leave. It was well worth the wait though, shrimp in garlic sauce and fries made my night.

 

It’s been a long day, goodnight everyone and see you soon!

 

  • Tia

 

Last trip with our driver Luis (last trip with our driver Luis)

Saying good bye to Quatro Esquinas (saying goodbye to Quatro Esquinas)

Tia and Maya drawing lessons - Ali and Svet sketches on top (Tia & Maya drawing lesson)

Ecuador day #14

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 14- September, 2nd

By: Lorraine

 

Day 14 almost the end of the trip. All the planning for two years and 18 days seemed like a long time to be in Ecuador and yet it flew by in a flash. This is our last day in Malchingui. I know for me it will be difficult to say goodbye to our hosts, Victor and Suzanna. Last evening the grand daughter and great granddaughter came to the house to say good bye to us.   Brittany, the great granddaughter, gave Denise and I each a little stuffy for our departure. It brought tears to my eyes to think they had so little and continued to share with us.

I do have to share about Denise and my adventure last evening. Ledi (pronounced Lady) came running to us all excited asking if we wanted to go for a drive with her family.   Well why not, we were not doing anything anyway. Once we were in the car with doors slammed shut Denise and I began to wonder if possibly we had made the correct decision. This car had seen better days. However the dash and window were all decorated in Latino fashion that we see in the movies. Denise asks me where we are going, saying I usually follow everywhere Lorraine but…. I could only respond with I have no idea where we are being taken. The first stop was to a little restaurant which was Ledi’s mom’s. She was so proud to be showing us her business, taking us into the kitchen and just so proud of all she had and worked for.   Back into the car for a long drive into the country.   Now we really are getting nervous wondering where we were going. We did see a deer running along the road which was interesting. Finally we arrive at a farm house the aunt of Ledi and she is spending the night. On our drive about we did discover that since there are no gas stations in Malchingui one buys gas from a neighbourhood home via jerrycan.   After a couple more stops it appeared we were heading home via a back road. Denise and I both notice that the road looks soft and fear we will get stuck. Our fears came true as the car is stuck and all this dust is flying all around us. I was thinking we were going to have to get out and push thinking this is not like snow and the last thing I wanted to do was get out and push. Thankfully our driver was skilled and he got the car out of our jam. Whew.

Today we met at the Cancha….we being the Interact group, the president of Malchingui and his council members, some Rotarians from Quito and all of our host families. Each of us was given a sign with our names on it. We were paired with a child from the community and together we planted a tree and placed our names in front the tree. Each student will be responsible for watering their tree for the coming years. The wind and the dust did not disappoint and was in full force while we were doing our photo ops. We were pleased and honoured when we were shown a large sign stating the park was now named “Castlegar Park”. When we could no longer stand the wind we headed to the community centre for speeches and lunch. This part of the afternoon started with some entertainment from the youth, a little dance routine about the Inca and then the Spanish taking over Ecuador. Next was some group dancing and on to the speeches. The message that was loud and clear was how the community was so impressed with these young people building a cancha in 10 days, a feat they did not think was possible. It was also mentioned how much our hosts enjoyed having us in their homes and there will be many wet tears tomorrow morning as we leave town. The interact club and both Rotary clubs were each given a plaque to take back to our clubs. Finally at about 4 pm a lunch of roasted pig and corn (“mote”) served. Some of us even got a bit of tomato and onion. It was so nice for us to share this day with our families.

I have learnt a few things on this trip. One – if you are sitting outside and there are chickens around be careful where you place your hands or you end up making chicken poop pancakes. Two – The children of this community love visitors from other countries. Three – it is not the size or beauty of a house that makes a home – it is the hearts of the people in the house that makes the home.

And I cannot end this blog without mentioning how proud of the young people I have had the privilege to travel with. They have made such a positive impression in this community as I knew they would.

The new park is called Castlegar Parque! (new park called “Castlegar Parque”)

2015-09-02 14.21.20 (celebration of the cancha)

2015-09-02 14.50.33 (Inca dance)

Ecuador day #13

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 13- September, 1st

By: Kyle

Today was an early morning for all of us. We all woke up at various times in order to be at the job sites by seven. Stan and Noah went back to the Cancha to build the base for the plaque (recognizing Interact and Rotary building the cancha) and cleaned up materials around the site. The rest of us went to the seniors’ centers to finish painting the walls. We all split into four groups. One group finished painting half the centre Durazno (light orange) while the second group painted the other half Mandarina (darker orange). Alex and I were the third group who finished painting the ceiling white. Wren, Jill, and Tia began painting the mural. By nine-thirty, we had the first coat of paint on. At this time half the group went to a second seniors’ centre to paint. Eric, Svetlana, Alex, and I had to sand the walls before we could start painting. The painting went fairly quickly. We had one coat on the side and back walls and two coats of paint on the front wall before lunch. It was difficult to know where we painted at times because we were painting white over white walls. By one o’clock, everyone was picked up from different areas and driven to a third seniors’ center for lunch. Once again we had a very tasty meal that consisted of chicken, rice, and cabbage. Since all the painting was done at the first senior’s centre and all the clean up was done at the Cancha, only nine of us went back to the second seniors’ center to paint. Eric and I finished two second coats on the front and back, Phil and Svet did all of the trimming, and Jill, Tia, and Wren made a different mural at the center. Stan and Geoff did an excellent job supervising. At first we were all very civil, painting the walls. That suddenly changed as we all focused more on painting each other and less on the task on hand. It was quite a war! We all had paint all over our hands, legs, clothes, and some of us had some paint in our hair. The finished product of the building looked a lot better than before. The mural really spruced up the inside. Our bodies, on the other hand, looked like they needed half-hour showers. By four o’clock we had a taxi that drove us home. I took a well needed shower, did laundry, and ate dinner at Geoff’s and Stan’s. Noah and I would have eaten at our house, but Myrian (our host mom) was getting an appendicitis surgery in Quito. For dinner, her sister Maria made rice, lentils, chicken and fresh squeezed orange juice. It was very good. Noah and I had plans to meet the rest of the club at Four Corners at four-thirty, but didn’t end up meeting them until five-thirtyish at the church. Everyone went into various stores and bought different snacks and drinks. On our way back to our homes, we stopped at one of the soccer fields and watched some locals play basketball. At around six-thirty we all said goodnight and returned home. We are all finding it hard to believe that there is only five days left until we return home. As much as we all want to stay in Ecuador, we are all excited to return home to our families, Canadian food and culture, as well as to our own beds. See you all in five days!

~Kyle

Cactus Farm for Prickly Pear (cactus farm for prickly pear)

Ciudad Malchingui on the hillside above the seniors centre (Ciudad Malchingui on the hillside above  senior’s centre)

 

Finishing touches on the cancha (finishing touches on the cancha)

Interactors working on a mural for the Seniors Centre (working on a mural for Senior’s Centre)

Mural in the Seniors Centre (mural in the Senior’s Centre)

Pablo - one of the many family dogs (Pablo – one of the many family dogs)

Painting the high spots (painting the high spots)

Sanding the walls of the seniors centre (sanding the walls of the Senior’s Centre)

Scorpion on the freshly poured cement (scorpion on freshly poured cement)

Ecuador day #12

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 12 – August 31

By: Geoff

It is day 12 and this has been a fantastic experience. As we expected the Interactors impress each time they come in contact with someone. They are acting more mature than many adults that I have seen travelling (this may be a surprise to some of their parents). A small example of this was a couple of days ago on the bus. When we travelled to San Clemente on the bus, it was only our group. They asked the driver to put the music over the buses audio system and we blasted songs the whole trip. When we went to Tupigachi we had a number of Rotarians from Quito with us. The group played their music quietly on one of the iPods and sang along to it realizing that the Rotarians may not appreciate the loud music.

What happened today?

Today we arrived at the work site at 7 am expecting to have the cement truck to arrive shortly thereafter. At 7:30 a truck arrived from Quito with the basketball and volleyball nets. The “maestro” (project supervisor) was then informed that he had not made the holes for these posts correctly. The cement truck was then delayed while we fixed the holes and cemented in the posts. We used sledge hammers to break up rock, found other rocks and work to level, stabilize and cement in the 4 posts. Many also picked up garbage around the site and trimmed bushes to make it look better. Around 11 am the maestro told us that he only needed 4 of us in the afternoon and there would be nothing for us until after lunch. Rather than wait around for 2 hours we opted to do a one hour walk to where we were being served lunch. It enabled us to see parts of Malchingui that we had not seen previously. During the morning Lorraine and I had made alternate plans expecting the worst for the afternoon. After lunch 12 of us headed to a seniors centre to sand the interior walls, fill holes with putty and paint. At first we thought that the mandarin and peach colours were kind of gross but they grew on us. We had hoped to get one section plus the kitchen fully repaired and painted but the walls kept on having the cement fall out in pieces as we painted it causing us to go slower. Tomorrow we should finish the entire inside of the building. Tia, Wren and Jill are painting a mural of the West Kootenay Mountains on one section of a wall. The seniors are so excited by this that they have requested that they do a second wall painting at a second seniors’ home. We will split the group tomorrow and also paint the mural and exterior of the home.

Stan, Svetlana, Eric and Noah were the four that volunteered to stay behind to assist the crew with pouring the base of the cancha. The photos they brought showed them having  fun in 8 inch cement.   When Noah returned it appeared as though he had been rolling in it.

Tomorrow we will be finishing painting the one seniors’ home and starting on the exterior of the second one. Hopefully we can finish because Wednesday is a short day before all of the dignitaries assemble at 1 pm to celebrate the new cancha.

 

I wanted to share some of my observations about this wonderful country of Ecuador.

Family:

Stan and I are living on a piece of property that has seven homes….the mother, her four daughters and two sons, their 6 spouses and 20 grandchildren and great grandchild (total 32 people). The house we are living in is about 500 square feet. Stan and I have a room and Maria, Masias, Kevin, Andres and Luis are sharing another. We have so much fun together despite the language. They patiently work with our Spanish (they do not know English) and add words and help us get through conversations. We have all of our meals together and there is much laughter. Kevin is 20 and is going to University to be a Mechanical Engineer. He is so pleasant and clearly loves his parents and siblings. Andres is 13. He is not moody or disrespectful but rather bends over backwards to be with and help Stan and I. He is like North American teenage boys in that he does like computer games and is less keen on school. However he will starting at his new school year tomorrow and leaves at 6:30 am to take a bus 1 hour to his school. At 13 they start to attend specialized schools and thus his long bus ride. Luis is 7 and always has a smile on his face. He has a speech problem but cannot get the help he needs because they would have to travel 1 ½ hours to another town for a one hour appointment once per week. The local teachers are working with him. Masias and Kevin (when out of University) both work long hours. The Family wants all of their boys to go to University. Kevin currently pays US$2,600 per semester. We suspect that an adult makes approximately US $ 10-15,000 per year.

For many meals we often have one of the cousins with us. The Family is so close they are always wandering between houses. One night we played a soccer game on their property under the lights. The field was a large volleyball court and we had 14 of us playing. The cousins ranged between 7 and 22 years old and were boys and girls. Luis was a goal tender and held his own…..not afraid of anyone. Some of the parents were our cheering section.

 

Health:

This country in many ways seems ahead of Canada in its health. Since leaving Quito one week ago I have seen one smoker. There are almost no fast food restaurants (in Malchingui we can seldom find a restaurant that is open). Where we are living much of the food comes from their yard (fruit, chicken, pork, guinea pig). There seems to be very little pop being drunk (none in our Families) and instead have freshly squeezed juice at all meals.

Food:

If you love fruit then this is the country to be in (unfortunately I cannot eat fruit). There is no end to the different types of fruits that we find….initially around the house and more as we travelled. They export bananas all over the world (check when you pick them up the next time in the grocery store in Canada). I have included photos of all of the fruits that we have seen.

We all are never hungry and I generally must leave something on my plate. We seem to eat rice and/ or potatoes for three meals a day. Most lunches there will be soup and then chicken with the rice and potatoes. There will be fresh fruit as desert. We have breakfast at 6 or 7 am, lunch at 1 pm and dinner around 7 pm.

 

Education:

The country is highly educated. It has a 98 % literacy rate (much the same as Canada) and it is apparent from our Families that there is a respect for education. The parents work hard to ensure that their children get a high level of education and support their children in learning. Education is expensive and therefore the children live at home for as long as they can. Primary school is for 6- 12 year olds and Collegio up to 16. Not anyone can enter a post secondary program. Somehow there is a determination as to what you are allowed to study in post Collegio school.

Cost of Living:

Things are cheaper here but not as cheap as other South American countries that I have visited. For us “Gringos” they see us coming and the price goes up immediately. We sent 13 year old Andres ahead to negotiate for us when we needed wheelbarrows. Probably saved us $30 a wheelbarrow. Taxis are $1.50 to go up the hill. We are charged $2.50 unless we ask first.

Home in 6 days!

Cancha almost completed  (cancha almost complete)

Cementing Crew with Vice President Yolanda(cement crew with Vice President Yolanda

Avacado1 (avacado)

Babaco (babaco)

Claudia - Mini Plum (claudia – mini plums)

Guyaba (guyaba)

Horitos (horitos)

Mortinio (mortinio)

Naranjilla (naranjilla)

Passionfruit (passionfruit)

Pepino (pepino)

Taxo (taxo)

Tree Tomato (tree tomato)

Ecuador day #11

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 11- August, 30th

By: Wren

This morning I woke up at five, and laid in bed until it got light enough to read. We’ve all been going to bed pretty early, but also it’s been quite windy which makes for a noisy night, two things causing me to wake up quite early. My house still doesn’t have water, but I think the other families do (so only Tara and Barbara need to worry). For breakfast Jill and I had a bun from a local bakery, queso fresco and a pineapple/jello hot drink which I think is pretty common here. After breakfast we hungout with the boys in our house, Juan Pablo (13) and Erik (9), we play mostly card games like go fish and 21/31 and some clapping games.

At 10:00 am everyone met at quatro esquinas to go for a tourist day at a park close to Malchingui. The park (Jerusalem) had a pool, some soccer fields, a tractor ride, horse rides (not available today), some trails and a restaurant. The Interactors spent the majority of the day at the pool facility, we played in the pool, with the soccer ball Ali brought, tanned and talked mostly. Around 1:30 we started looking for the tractor rides because the horse rides were closed (probably to blame on my Karma, sorry guys). However, when we finally found the tractor rides the line was about 12 miles long and we all decided to go for lunch instead. Lunch was at the park’s restaurant and people drank water, coke or lemonade and ate lasagna, salad, soup, fries, chicken, beef or pork. It was nice to mix up the lunch food, and nice to spend the time with the group. After lunch we were offered a special tractor tour, so without hesitation we accepted. The tour took us around the park and then we got out and went for the walking portion, we made our way up to the top of a little hill where we found that we were on the equator! With one foot in the southern hemisphere and one in the northern we learned about the plants of the park, the values of the park and posed for lots of pictures. On the way back to the starting point we stopped at a gashui tree, supposedly if you close your eyes and put your hands on it you absorb some of its good fortune (I soaked up as much as possible, in hopes that the water will return to my house). The tour guide was very excited to have such a large group of gringos and I’m pretty sure we got special treatment. To get back to Malchingui we all piled into the backs of pickup trucks and settled down for the fifteen minute ride.

When back in Malchingui the Interactors hungout and napped, and rested up for the next few days of work. We are all hoping to be able to work really hard in the next few days and tomorrow we start at seven so that’s a good start. Upon returning to my host families we hungout, read, journalled and played with the boys until dinner. Dinner was boiled potatoes, lots of rice and chicken with a cilantro-y sauce. All staples in the Ecuadorian diet.

It is hard to believe that in a week this time we will all be at home in Castlegar! This trip is flying by and it’s impossible to think that is already day 11.

 

See ya soon,

Wren

Jerusalem Observation Park 1 (Jerusalem Observation Park)

Jerusalem Park Swimming Break (Jerusalem Park swimming break)

Jerusalem Protected Forests (Jerusalem Protected Forest)

Cactus in Jerusalem Protected Area (Cactus in Jerusalem Protected area)

Panarama at Jerusalem Park (view at Jerusalem Park)

Ecuador day #10

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 10- August, 29

By: Jill

Day 10 already. It’s crazy how fast this trip is going by. Today we worked at a children’s playground instead of the cancha, due to some plan changes. The Ecuadorians didn’t work today; they also don’t work on Sundays. The playground is by another cancha and some corn fields. We picked up garbage, weeded, and just did some general clean up. The wind in Malchingui is really strong, and the dirt is blowing everywhere. We finished all our work pretty quickly. After work we walked to four corners and got ice cream, thanks Geoff. When I got home there was no water at my house, I used a cloth with water from my water bottle. At 3:00pm we all got on a bus to go to Tupigachi. We had a few Rotarians with us on the bus. One of the Rotarians taught us a Spanish song about baby chickens on the bus. We went to a Festival with a bunch of different communities; there were a lot of people there. It was really cool to see all the people and to hear the music. The dancing was amazing, so was the food. At the festival we all got these delicious desert empanadas, they were deep fried with cheese in the middle and sugar on top. It was a pretty fun day.

 

Geoff’s note:

Our Interactors are all hard workers and extremely motivated to get as much of our project done as possible prior to us leaving Malchingui. We were very successful for part of the week but over the weekend we have not been able to complete much on the project. This was primarily due to communication and translation problems. The plan we had made with the local Rotarians was work on weekends in order that we could work alongside the locals but “maestro” (job supervisor) ended up being available only during the week.

On Friday when we arrived there was only enough work to get us through the morning. The maestro informed us that he was finished working until Monday. This was because he normally does not work on Saturdays and Sunday is a time that Ecuadorians spend with their Families so our original plan did not fit this timing. He had hired a crew while we were away because he wanted to be able to pour the foundation of the cancha on this coming Monday and was concerned that we would not get everything done. (He has not seen our Interactors in “action” they definitely would have gotten the preparation work done ).

This change of plan did not set us back and the Interactors and Rotarian leaders adapted our work with help from Loli (the local Rotarian organizing for us) who found other areas of need in Malchingui. Our Interactors are working this weekend on a community park helping combat weeds and other work as required. On Tuesday they will be painting at a seniors centre. The concrete truck will be available on Monday when we will be helping with the “cancha” again – building of the courtyard which is our planned project in Malchingui, Ecuador.   The Interact group will be assisting in the pouring of the concrete base which is now scheduled for Monday and once it has been set can continue working on finishing the cancha on Wednesday.

In the evening the locals had the festival of San Pedro (I think). They party all night.   It is almost 7 am and the music is still blasting around Malchingui. We could hear it all night. It revolves around the full moon (which we had) and the commencement of their planting of crops for the next season.   The wind is still howling. It was probably good that we are not working today because this wind blows dust like we are in the Sahara.

 

Celebration in Tupigachi (celebration in Tupagachi)

 

Dancers coming down street in Tupigachi (dancers coming down Tupagachi street)

Empanadas being  made in Tupigachi (empanadas being made in Tupagachi)

Cooking chicken, corn (mote) and soup (cooking chicken, corn & soup)

Saturday morning playground maintenance (Saturday playground maintenance)

Ecuador day #9

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 9 – August, 28

By: Eric

No one can believe that we are already half way through our trip. Wow. It’s gone by too fast. Yesterday we all met at the Cancha at 9 am to start our day of work. It is interesting how even though the girls in our group prove themselves as just as capable of doing work, the workers still want boys to do the work. The workers were definitely proven wrong again today from the hard work throughout the entire group. We untangled very long and heavy cables which took about an hour and a half out of our day already. During that process, the rest of the group was busy tying chicken wire to keep the tension cables and rebar secure for the upcoming cement pour. It was very windy so there was a lot of dust flying everywhere. I think about 5 people now have lost or broken their sunglasses, including me, so it was difficult to see at times. Speaking of breaking things, there was a little accident in Phil and I’s host home yesterday that was not mentioned in the blog. There I was, minding my own business in my room while Phil was in the bathroom washing his feet when I hear a very loud CRASH!! I automatically assume that Ana (our host mom) must’ve dropped a plate or a bowl. Until I see Phil walk out of the bathroom, white as a ghost and shaking uncontrollably. I make my way into the bathroom to find a smashed sink in about 10,000 pieces. Phil had accidentally leaned on the sink and it had fallen right off of its hooks onto the floor. Phil felt very bad and offered to pay for the new sink but Ana and Victor were more worried about Phil’s well being than a sinks. By the next day our family had a new sink and everything was ok. (and we have confirmed with the Rotarians that we will pay for the replacement sink through them).

 

We worked so fast in the morning on the Cancha that we didn’t have any more work in the afternoon so we had free time. We ended up spending that time as a group after we all went to “Miss Malchingui” ’s house for a delicious and traditional lunch. We decided that we would spend our free time in a little park near the church. We talked and played games for a while and got some ice cream from the shops. We all decided it would be a good idea to go and get some pizza as a group at a local parlor. We waited about an hour for it to be ready and then dug in. 3 large pizzas at 2 pieces each fed our group of 12 and for only 2 dollars each for a total of 24 dollars.

 

After our delicious pizza we all took a taxi down to Four Corners and dispersed for the night. Tomorrow we have a free day but we think we may help clean a local playground and in the late afternoon travel to Tupagachi (to see an Andean celebration). Everyone loves the trip so far and it’s only going to get better. I can’t wait to see what else Ecuador has to throw at us. We have some exciting days coming up so make sure you stay tuned for the upcoming blog posts.

 

Dust bowl (dust bowl)

Ali shovelling ( Ali shovelling the dirt)

Tia in the midst of  tangled rebar cable (Tia in the midst of tangled rebar cable)

Jillian tying rebar with wire (Jillian tying rebar with wire)

Miss Malchingui hosted us for lunch at her Family Restaurant (Miss Malchingui hosted group for lunch)

Last preparation for Monday's large pour (last preparation before Monday’s pour)

Ecuador day #8

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 8 – August, 27

By: Phil

Today our morning started with a large breakfast that included fresh corn tortillas, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit and the best granola many of us have ever eaten. Even with the language barrier, we all formed a connection with our temporary host families that made for a very enjoyable breakfast.

After our delicious breakfast we headed to Bianca’s house to work in a Miinga to complete landscaping around their new hut where local women are going to sell their handmade artisanal products. A Miinga was described to us as a collection of people that work together to complete tasks at hand in a certain time frame but is thought of as more of a social event. While in the Miinga we did things like line a walkway with rocks, weeding and clearing parking spaces of dirt and debris. As usual the people of the village were very impressed with the work ethic of our group and how much we completed in the short two hour time frame. Also Geoff, Stan, Denise and Lorraine were talking to the leader of the village about our club coming back to work on a project specifically in that village. After completing all the work we were again offered corn tortillas with fresh raspberry puree and fresh juice made of tree tomatoes. We believe that the Ecuadorians also follow the logic of killing visitors with delicious food as the Doukhobours in Castlegar do. There wasn’t a moment in Ecuador yet that anyone has had an empty stomach because who could resist delicious food offered constantly? Before leaving the worksite Stan and Noah had the great idea of leaving a mark of Canada at the village. They decided to make an Inuksuk out of spare rocks and bricks at the worksite. The leader of the village, Manuel, was very happy with our Canadian mark and assured us that it would stay there, untouched.

Before heading to Otavalo we stopped at an Andean instrument workshop where there was a live assembly of a pan flute by the owner of the store. Surprisingly the man had it made in less than five minutes. After the assembly his family played a couple songs using the instruments for sale at the shop.

We then boarded the bus to head to Otavalo for the large outdoor market. It was almost overwhelming to many of us how many options we had for alpaca socks, ponchos, blankets and many more handmade products. Before the group headed into the jungle of tents one of the students we met at the organic farm told us to say “Si, perro para llavar”, which roughly translated to: what’s your best price? It was very helpful to many of us because it cut out a large portion of the potential foreign language bargaining process to get the best price for each product. Even with the advantage of the phrase many of us got different prices for things like alpaca socks because we didn’t know what a regular price for these things were. At the end of it all we got back onto the bus with multiple bags of things that we’re very excited to bring back to Canada and show everyone.

On the way back to Malchingui we decided to buy roses for our host families. We stopped at a flower stand, similar to our fruit stands. You won’t believe it, but we bought two dozen beautiful roses, of all different colors, for only $2.00!

To finish off another great day in Ecuador we headed back to our original host families in Malchingui to enjoy dinner with them and share our new experiences through charades and minimal Spanish.

 

IMG_2199 (traditional breakfast tortillas)

IMG_2198 (Canadian Inukshuk at San Clemente)

IMG_2197 (“Minga” or work party in San Clemente)

IMG_2203 (16 dozen roses for $16)

image1 (Market in Otavalo)

Ali, Wren & Tia at the Ottavallo market (Ali, Wren & Tia at the market)

Ecuador day #7

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 7 – August 26

By: Sierra

Our second day off started with the usual breakfast at our host families, and then we all met up again in the same place as yesterday, four corners at 8:30 am this morning where the bus picked us up. We visited an agricultural farm where we learned about how they grow their crops; all organic. At this farm we met Michaela from New York and Sierra from Boston. We also learned a few more vegetables that we don’t have in North America, like tree tomatoes. The group tried peppers that were ready to be eaten….although some peppers were extremely spicy. Unfortunately, Eric and Noah didn’t take any precautions and stuck the whole pepper in their mouths. They looked in pain for hours (and Noah the whole day). Then after some touring around the farm, we got to show off our weed picking skills to help on the farm a bit.

We got back on the bus, and headed to a café where we enjoyed coffee or hot chocolate, biscottis and cheese sticks. In the café, there was a small store where everybody bought bunches of candy. Everyone seems to be enjoying the sweets here. After a quick stop, we got back on the bus and are now headed to San Clemente. San Clemente is high on the mountain overlooking a beautiful city called Ibarra.

When we got to San Clemente we met up with some of the indigenous people who made us our huge lunch (still not used to the fact that here their lunch is like our dinner) which consisted of chicken, salads, soup and a few other things. After our lunch we took a look at some hand crafted items some women made. We met another girl, named Eileen and she is from Berlin. Her and Phil both had a little conversation in German. Then Manuel (the Indigenous Centre leader) presented to us on the Andean culture and the relationship between the sky, the earth as well as under the earth. We also learned about two calendars; the lunar and the sun (Gregorian). Manuel explained the sundial and the seasons. The sundial is now out by one month due to global warming. Eric and Svetlana wore customes used to celebrate June 21st ((their biggest day of the year). These customes controlled people to be happy and dance or be whipped. Svetlana and Eric both wore samara pants and a mask, as well they wore a shell and horn over their neck.

We were then introduced to our host Families and we decided how to split up the groups (some of us ended up splitting from our buddies). We had dinner at our host families which was really good I thought. The amount of soup we have had has been overwhelming for some of us though. Later that night though we were up for some fun with the indigenous families. We got really excited (especially the girls) when we found out our host families had some traditional clothing for us to wear. At 8pm sharp, we started enjoying some Andean music and started dancing together. At the end of the celebration, Tia, Kyle, Wren, Svetlana as well Stan sang a couple songs in Russian for the group. We finished at 9:30, and then went back to spend the rest of the night with our host families.

 

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Group having the significance of the sundial and seasons explained (significance of the sundial & seasons)

 

 

 

Ecuador day #6

Interact Ecuador 2015

Day 6 – August, 25

By: Svetlana

This morning we got a break from working on the cancha, and we finally got a morning to sleep in a bit. We had to meet at 9am at “cuatros esquinas” (“four corners” the name of a central intersection in Malchingui). Our original plan was to head to Quito this morning for a Rotary breakfast meeting with the Quito Equinochio Rotary Club, then go to a daycare center of some sort.   Unfortunately, the center was closed today and there was no way for the Quito Rotarians to have it opened so it was decided that we wouldn’t go to Quito today. Instead we were taken to Cochasqui, a pre-Inca ruins site not too far from Malchingui (about a half hour/ 45 minute drive).

Upon reaching the ruins, we had to purchase tickets. It’s always such a surprise to see how inexpensive things are here compared to things in Canada. The tickets were only 3 dollars each! We had a Spanish tour guide, and one of the Rotaract students we met this morning did his best to translate for us. It was a really interesting site, as ruins usually are, although much of the ruins were covered by dirt and vegetation in order to keep them in good condition and we could only see the general shape of the temples and buildings. I think most people’s favourite part of the tour was seeing and feeding the large population of 120 llamas and alpacas. Our guide would fill our palms with salt and we would whistle at the llamas until they came towards us and ate the salt out of our hands. They started out kind of shy and skittish but soon they were swarming us and all trying to get at the salt.

After the ruins we were driven to a small community called Tocachi. We were there to see some women and girls who had an arrangement with Rotary to get a small loan so that they could use it to buy supplies for craft embroidery items. After they had made items and started selling, they would begin to pay back the loan with a small interest added on. The idea was that the money would eventually all get paid back and could be used again in the future for other micro-projects. We all bought something (or more than one thing) from the women. There were little finger puppets and scarves and little embroidered pictures and much more. Cecilia, the woman who hosted us for lunch, was so appreciative of us buying so much that she gave everyone one small item for free. We were given a lunch of chicken soup, rice, potatoes, and salad. There is always so much food at meals and the people here are so willing to share all that they have, even when they have very little.

We were back into Malchingui at around 3:30 and after a small group meeting, we had free time to wander around town and socialize before heading back to our host families for the evening. It was a great day and I can’t wait to see what else Ecuador has to offer.

P1050370 (guinea pig getting stuffed)

IMG_2187