Another full day in Ecuador. The morning started with everyone comparing how their night went with their sleeping bags. The Ecuadorian people are much shorter and slighter than us Canadians. It appears the sleeping bags are just a tad small for us larger sized Canadians. So those taller people the bags come to their nipple line. For us fuller figure people we can not get the bags up past our hips. I think Emily was the only person that fit the bags with any comfort. Between the small bags and the wind I don’t think many got a good sleep last night. The 3 ladies thought we scored being given the tire house, that is until we saw a little furry creature scurry in and out through an air vent. What the heck, the more the merrier.
A duty roster was made up, consisting of kitchen help and cleaning of bathroom and showers. The kitchen crew made us a wonderful breakfast of tortilla that resembled an English muffin stuffed with eggs, onion and tomatoes with a dash of lemon juice and cheese. These were a big hit amongst all of us. Then it was off to work.
Half of the group gleefully headed off to the hot house to plant 300 little tomato plants. The other half were to go to the day care centre. Since we did not hear this was a go, we all headed for the auditorium to do the baroque. For me this is the first time getting close to the mud, and surprisingly I found the task to be very calming and enjoyable. There is something to this playing in the mud. At about 10 am Geoff came running to us. Loli and Jose had arrived and stated the day care had been waiting half an hour for our arrival. There was no time to change out of our dirty clothes. We all piled (7 of us) into Jose’s car. There were 2 in the front seat and 5 of us in the back with little Emily sprawled over 4 pairs of legs. Needlessly to say there were a few raised eyebrows at our attire. The 28 sweet little children soon became our focus. Some came running up to the group immediately wanting to make friends while most of the group held back not sure what to make of these very tall gringos. Elaine worked her kindergarten skills and soon the little children were interacting with us and playing games. One little boy asked Eric why he was speaking English. So Eric patiently explained in Canada we speak English. Near the end of the visit we were served a snack with the children, and our group was appalled that the children were served coke with their bun and cheese. The sad reality is that economically it is cheaper to drink coke than almost any other liquid and it is not uncommon to see coke served at breakfast. We had brought some supplies and clothing for the day care, we presented these in suitcases which we unpacked and then we were off with our empty cases back to the work site.
On arrival we first found Stan and Padn working on rebuilding the little bridge. They were securing the banks with tires, packing them full of dirt and then placing the logs over the ravine making it secure for crossing. While working Stan saw a rat coming down the ravine with a captured mouse in its mouth. Makes sleeping tonight that much more comfortable knowing there are critters in and out of my sleeping area, leaving me to wonder what they may be bringing in. Next we discovered Phil and Andrew had almost completed the showers and outside sink installation with the guidance of Louis. We were all looking forward to those hot showers at the end of the work day.
Looking around there were about 15 visitors. Some were Rotarians and others were officials from the community. They had come to meet us and check out this rotary project. There was a representative from Rotary International and her job was to check out 30 projects that were deemed to be sustainable, to find out how and why they work and create models for future projects and then allowing more global funding for such projects. It was such an honour for the Quito rotary club to have one of their projects selected. With all the visitors, lunch was a little more special with blue table cloths and being served.
Guests or not Louis cracked the whip and once again we were all back to work. Soon it was the end of the work and there was a mad rush for those hot showers. Well guess what, we were in for another surprise. Most of us had cold showers because we did not know how to regulate the showers to enable us to have some heat in the water.
One of my duties last evening was to clean the toilets. The toilets here are outhouses, but they are dry toilets where the urine is separated from the stool and paper, and then the heavy business becomes compost. The urine goes into large jugs behind the building. Louis gets the privilege of emptying these every few days. This process made me realize how spoiled we are in North America and how much work it takes to be organic.
As the medical person on the trip my job has been easy to date. There have been a few scrapes and blisters to deal with, and a couple of strained muscles. I do have one cute story to share, I was checking out one students back strain, and he says to me “Lorraine I feel we should be having dinner with the amount of skin I have shown you”. How I love these kids.
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