Sunday, October 7, 2012

YES, We are alive in marvelous times. Delicate hearts. Diabolical minds.

Like my title. I do too. Its a quote from the rapper Mos Def. I like his music as well.

I think this quote made me realize that I was not living in the present. I tended to focus on my future, my future  plans, never giving my present situation any thought whatsoever. Now I live more in the now. I feel like I am now enjoying my life and giving myself a little breathing room. I still think of what I am going to do after my Peace Corps service but without panicking and overwhelming myself. I also enjoy our wonderful world, the people around me, and the adventures that the universe throws at us. I think everyone should watch the movie  "Life in one day" and think about their daily life. Life is beautiful no matter where you are and with who you are spending it with. I am truly grateful for all the people that have appeared in my life and mostly for those that have played a major role in my present life. I wouldn't be who I am today without you.


Anyway, this month has been fun and exciting.

We got new projects on the way. Library projects being formulated this week. And the last two weekends have been enlightening!  We went on a  hike looking for some Inca ruins in Paccha and  I also ran a 7k crossfit race obstacle course.

Last weekend we headed down to Paccha which is a 3 hour bus ride from our city in Machala. A group of about 5 of us headed to up the mountain to hike and camp at the Incan ruins also known as Yacuvinay ruins. We walked 3 hours in the evening/night heading up a beautiful moonlight path. We had the harvest moon on our backs giving us a little bit of light. We got to the ruins made haste to set up camp and had peanut butter sandwiches and chifles for dinner. We ended up going to bed early. It was very cold and no one wanted to stay up late.

The next morning we hiked around the ruins. Checked out the beautiful breathtaking scenery. After a few minutes enjoying the view and wondering around we were ready to hike back down and head home.

As we made our way back onto the hiking trail some how we took a wrong turn and hiked down the wrong trail. This wrong trail ended up costing us 5-6 hours of hiking. We made it back 6 hours after we left camp and we were ALL oh so very exhausted. At the time we were all tired, hungry, thirsty, and grumpy. But in retrospect we had a fantastic time hiking in a beautiful place and we got to enjoy nature. We got home safe and sound.

Pictures time!

From this hike I learned that;
  1. I am still afraid of heights.
  2. I can face my fear of heights and not give up even when climbing and walking along steep hills for 5 hours.
  3. I can do anything I set my mind to.
  4. and  I am stronger than I give myself credit for. 

This week I trained for a 7k obstacle course called Adventure Race which was sponsored by my crossfit gym. We had 50 people participate including myself and 3 other volunteers.  All from different age groups. I joined my morning group (8am crossfitters). We called ourselves "Asi somos" which roughly translates to "This is who we are". The race was not in my city but in another city, 40 minutes away. It was in a bananera farm (?). lots of land. There were LOTS of hills and lots of little streams feeding the rows of banana trees and cacao trees. We had 14 obstacles to pass and had military men watching us complete these obstacles before letting us head to the next one. Regardless of how much I suck at running I still completed it in 1hr 30/40 minutes. I am proud of myself. I did what I said I would do and I am satisfied with the results. Now I know what I need to work on for next year. My goal is to complete the Iron Runner race.  Before I COS I will be doing most definitely doing this!

Now until June I will be training for this. I can't wait.

Anyway, pictures of my group Asi Somos!

Random pictures

Ben took this foto of me at the training center. See I do smile, sometimes.

TEFL volunteers sometimes have to be judges for English contests.
Last week we judged a singing contest.  It was pretty fun.

Well that is all for now! I will traveling next week. I tend to travel a lot which I love doing!

Give this a listen, I like them a whole lot. - little talks by Of monsters and men

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mid-service, medical, and Riobamba. Oh my!

Before mid-service happened, Katie left to the states for 3 weeks and I only had Ben to hangout with.  Well, there were the new 108s, but Ben was the only one I really knew and enjoyed having him around. Anyway, I can say without a doubt that Ben has become one of my best guy friends here in Ecuador. He is an amazing individual, a great friend, and a really funny guy.   While Katie was gone we had many adventures together with the 108s (they are a pretty awesome group).  We went to  Arellinas and spent a weekend with Maria, Renee, Alex, and Ash. Ash and I "accidentally" drank tap water (I got Arenillas amoebas!) and had a fun time dancing to Ecua-music. I had my face painted and danced outside without shoes. Then we had a GREAT time at the Jambali Island party. Spent a whole weekend by the sea. We partied, we danced, we swam, and we stayed in tents on the beach. We had a fantastic time.

Funny how the universe works. I have had some rough months and it seemed it wouldn't get any better. But I finally started to push through my negativity. I joined the local Crossfit and started to run every morning (lost almost 20 pds so far!).  I put together a 2 day workshop for my Machala librarians (40 librarians attended). Before mid-service I did story time with the Casa de Cultura.  We had 25 seven year olds from a primary school. We had so much fun, painted our faces, read a fun story in Spanish and made masks. We also had our pictures taken for a newspaper article! After this even we spent 2 hours working with the University English students with their teacher (a world teach girl from the states). We really enjoyed it :)

It has been a fantastic two months! I hope it continues to be this surprising and amazing!

Here are some fotos from Jambeli:

here are some fotos from the Machala workshop, story-time, and University workshop:

Library Workshop

Story time

University workshop


So we just finished having our mid-service and medical last week. Mid-service went pretty well. We had a couple of interesting sessions and as always safety&security training/overview. No drama, no breakdowns, and no whining.  It was overall a good experience and we got to hangout with friends we haven't seen in almost a year. I also got to visit my Tumbaco host family and spend a day with them.

The medical portion of it went relatively fast. The dentist was okay, got no cavities. yay me! I did have to get a blood test done for my thyroid.  It took 5 tries to get blood from me. Last resort was to stick the needle in my hand, which worked better. And I do have amoebas from Arenillas, haha. I have to take 2 pills a day for three days to get rid of these little buggers.

After our medical we ended up going to Riobamba and spending the evening at Lori's place. We got to go around town and check out the markets. It is so different from our site on the coast. There are a lot of indigenous groups that live in or near Riobamba. I got to shop around for gifts for a couple of friends, pretty neat stuff :)

I also got to experience the Mercado La Merced where they sell the famous hornado (roasted pig with corn). It was pretty awesome. There is room full of Hornado vendors trying to sell you their pork by shouting and hissing at you (this is their way of getting your attention). I loved it, it was so delicious!

These are some pictures from the Mercado (Pictures are not taken by me)

We also got to see this volcano - Tungurahua, which has been burping and spewing lava for the past 2 months.  It wasn't erupting while we where there :(

And now we (katie and I) are back in Machala. We have re-evaluated our jobs. We will be focusing on working with our English coordinator and working with 3 schools instead of working with one. Next we will be working with the university students, training them on methodology and classroom management. Lastly, we will be working on a Literacy program with the libraries (which i am very excited about!).

Anyway, good news I will be coming home in October to visit. wooo! Can't wait!  ^_^

I leave you with a Lana del Rey song. She is becoming one of my favorite new artists. This song is amazing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July.

I am not big on holidays but I haven't celebrated 4th of July in long time and thought I should give it a shot. I decided to celebrate it by making Sloppy Joe's and french fries for a couple of my friends (Benja, Peter, Marissa, and Kathlyn).

Anyway, I found old pictures from last year that I haven't shared with anyone. And the only picture of our one year anniversary in Peace Corps, which Katie and I spent together.


Following pictures are from last year. People: Tara, Katie, Benja, Tara's friend and I at our bar (Pikazzo).  Karaoke night!

Pictures of Katie's host family, Our first time cooking in our apartments, and View from our balcony.

Our one year anniversary Picture. We celebrated it by drinking fruity wine, eating really amazing Ecuadorian chocolate, and sharing a pint of ice cream. We are wicked awesome! 

Still can't believe it has been over a year since I have been in Ecuador. God time flies by quickly!