Interact Ecuador 2015
Day 12 – August 31
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
(cement crew with Vice President Yolanda