Archive for the ‘Sam in Ecuador’ Category


Sam: Internship interview

September 27, 2010

On Friday I left my house at 5:50 a.m. to catch a bus to Otavalo for my interview and to meet my placement family. Besides being way too early for anything, the trip was uneventful. Transporter 3, followed by Transporter 2, were on the bus television in Spanish. Judging by the action, I wouldn’t have understood even in English.

As requested, the driver dropped our early bird group of four off at a gas station where we called Nate’s host parents, Marcela and Carlos, to come pick us up and drive us to our interviews. Nothing says “good morning” like being picked up in a big white van at a gas station by complete strangers.

I was first to my interview at CEMOPLAF (Centro Médico de Orientación y Planificación Familiar [Medical Center for Family Orientation and Planning]): it’s going to be great. Dra. Quelal et al are going to have me working in the clinic as well as sending me to talk to high schools.

After the other interviews I got to meet my host mother, Tania. Her husband, Mario, is the mayor of Otavalo. Nice. She showed me Peguche, the village where they live (98% indigenous, mostly artisans—I can hear looms working from my house) and then showed me the house, pictures of the kids, and the dogs, Pancho and Laika. She was going back to Quito anyway so no bus for that afternoon.


Sam: Internship

September 16, 2010

Good news: I have a tentative internship lined up. I will be heading back to Otavalo next Friday so I can meet the organization and so they can meet me. If I continue with this plan I will be working at CEMOPLAF, an educational and clinical organization for adolescents (predominantly indigenous [Kichwa Otavaleños]). Other than that, no news of note to report, although I have been jonesing for some Hot Dogs de González Suárez…


Sam: Classes

September 9, 2010

Classes are in full swing here at Cimas. The content is generally very interesting and the lecturers are all distinguished in their fields, but seven hours of classes a day are a lot. Spanish especially is very frustrating since the methodology up to now is based on memorizing verb tables – surely a thing of the past. The MSID group, however, is fantastic. Everyone seems to get along with each other and, with a few minor differences, we share similar goals and inspirations. Tomorrow is the last day of classes for the week and Friday brings the guided tour of Quito…almost two weeks after our arrival. There has already been talk of an excursion to the local Mindo cloud forest this weekend and plans are beginning to surface regarding visits to other locales in the future.

Snow-capped Corazón from across the city after a rainy night

Sam: San Miguel de los Bancos

September 6, 2010
As previously stated, the group left by bus early Friday morning and headed to El Encanto in San Miguel de los Bancos, a city overlooking the Río Blanco and an expansive cloud forest. We arrived on Friday in time for breakfast and immediately headed down to the river with our ex-marine guide, Fernando. Fernando has ascended to a plane of higher existence, and thusly can leap off of sheer rock faces and dive headfirst into rapids. We swam in the frigid waters (my hands turned purple) and returned to El Encanto for lunch and free time. Before dinner we had some get-to-know-you activities and performed talent shows in our track groups (we in Public Health are Las Hierbas Medicinales: La parte más importante de este desayuno importante).
When we awoke Saturday we ate our breakfast, enjoyed some more free time, then sat down for a lecture on the positioning of the equator and Incan knowledge. Since we were so close to the equator, magnetic fields could be observed merely feet apart using metal rods and an egg could be balanced on a nail. After lunch we boarded the bus for Quito.

When I returned to the house I met my house brother, Santiago. We watched the Ecuador-Mexico soccer game then drove to La Zona with his girlfriend so that I could better know the city. Tomorrow begins actual classes because apparently our orientation activities didn’t count.

Sam: Action! Adventure! Public transportation!

September 2, 2010

Yesterday evening I had the “pleasure” of riding the city buses. Let me clarify: we only rode from the stop nearest the house to the social center of the city. We did not eat, we did not shop, we did not stop. The round trip took two hours. This required riding a small bus to the station, waiting for a large bus, boarding that, and stopping every 30 seconds. By the return trip it was rush hour. Luckily I carry no cash, because people were everywhere.

Tomorrow is the first excursion and, thankfully, the end of orientation week. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the city or meeting new people, but orientation of any kind is marked by hours of speeches and pounds of handouts (for this reason I have no photos to share yet). We leave for San Miguel de los Bancos, a riverside ecological preserve, at 6am and return Saturday at 5:30pm to enjoy a day of team building and nature exploration.

Sam: ¡Achachay!

August 31, 2010

It is so cold (for August) – 54 F and raining. I am in my new home, which is a unique setup: I sleep upstairs along with my house brother (who will be here Friday or Saturday) while my house parents sleep below. In a separate house. Not to fear, There is a 12 foot gate around the perimeter, the windows have bars, there is a gate before the door can be accessed, and I am forty yards from an occupied barracks. Apparently I don’t even have to use public transportation. Since there is a certain number of students in this sector, it is easier to just carpool. Tomorrow starts real classes and right now starts sleep.


Sam: 5 things I will miss while abroad

August 24, 2010

Finally, less than one week before departure, I have received my homestay information. I will be living with Alberto, a teacher, and his wife and son, Amanda and Santiago (who is 23). For the first time, I realize that this fantastic voyage is imminent. Knowing the names and address of the people with whom I will be living has eased my mind just enough that maybe now I can finish my shopping and begin packing (but probably not).

Certainly there are a number of people I will miss and it will be strange to not be able to wake up in my own room (at home or in a dorm), but I made a little list dedicated to the things I will miss the most while in Quito. Plus, this is a good way to get me in the habit of actually writing in this online journal.

5. Terrible food

I don’t mean food that tastes bad since that is missable wherever I go in the world. Rather, I mean the heart-stopping, stomach-churning, sleep-inducing garbage that makes my home country so famous. Burgers, hot dogs, chips, anything from a Paula Deen cookbook, etc. I don’t eat a whole lot of these foods as is, but when I do I go all out…

4. Seasons
Quito is a balmy 45-70 F year round (source: Wikipedia. Take that, college education.). It is in a plateaued valley and experiences cool and pleasant weather most days. Nevertheless, I will be missing fall this year, which just happens to be my favorite season. Spring and fall are about the only things Pennsylvania’s climate does well, so it is somewhat of a shame to not have that even for only a year.

3. Transportation
I have the luxury of being able to walk, bike, or drive anywhere I need to go. This will not be the case in Quito. I am going to be relying on buses, taxis, planes, and other assorted mass transit options to get around. Since Quito is a city this won’t be as frustrating as if I were studying in a rural area but still…I like to be in control.

2. My Stuff
Packing light is mandatory. Everything I could possibly need has to fit in one suitcase and one backpack. That said, I’m going to miss some things that won’t quite make the cut, such as a bed or a bike. Luckily, I’ll have a computer, so most intellectual property will be available to me, but I have a feeling the program frowns upon packing a Nintendo “just in case.”

1. English
This entry would have taken about an hour if I had to write it in Spanish. Obviously I very much enjoy speaking and reading and writing and learning in Spanish, but it does take significantly longer to accomplish anything than if I were utilizing my native tongue. I also won’t be able to quickly deploy some of my favorite colloquialisms and expressions because they just wouldn’t make sense. I’m sure I will find plenty of time for English even in a Spanish-speaking country, but there will be something lacking when I can’t seamlessly go through my day as I would at home.
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