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June 17, 2012 

            This morning, Julia and I slept in, went for a walk, grabbed a snack from the bakery and then lounged around the pool soaking in the view from the hostel. For lunch, a group of us went to this cute little café where I had a tuna sanduche and Chai Banana Smoothie. The smoothie was had an interesting favor. After lunch, we loaded in the bus and drove to Quito. For dinner, I went with Sam, Sophia, Mai Cua, and Coco to eat dinner at a Sushi Bar with two of her study abroad friends. The restaurant was fantastic and the sushi was amazing. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I took a bite. Yummy in my tummy! Oh yeah, we stayed the night at Hostel Charles Darwin.

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June 16, 2012

            Today was a day of many firsts, I went ziplining and bungee jumping/swing jumping. I’m afraid of heights so I’m really proud of myself for going through with everything. Jumping off a bridge wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be ha. For dinner, a group of us ventured to Café Hood where I enjoyed some delicious Pad Thai. Yummy! After dinner, we ventured to the discotecas.

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June 15, 2012 

            Today we started traveling to Banos. We left posada at 7am and ventured to Mt. Cotopaxi, an active volcano and the highest peak in South America. The drive was about two hours and then a 30 minute drive up the mountain thorugh Cotopaxi National Park. I think I mentioned this before but national parks are now free in Ecuador to promote their use for tourism. In Cotopaxi Natl Park, there were wild horse running across the grassy rocks/rocky grass (however you want to look at it).

            After the long bus ride, we made it to Banos! Banos is a very young, tourist town. The town is young because in the area there have been multiple volcanic eruptions over the past 100 years. One of the volcanos that we saw had smoke rising from it and the roads have ecacution routes drawn in white arrows. Definitely had nightmares about volcanos for the rest of the weekend. We stayed a really nice hostel called Alisamay. For dinner, I went to a small pub that had delicious microbrews with Lindsay and Sara. When we got back to the hostel, everyone enjoyed the spa in the lower level.  The spa area included a hot tub, steam room and sauna. The next couple of days won’t have as long of posts as previous because I forgot to journal regularly. Whoops! I was too busy enjoying my time in Banos. ;)

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June 14, 2012 

            Today we attempted to teach the children about colors but our lesson plans were foiled by the administration of their second doses of parasite medication. Basically all of my mental energy was spend trying to convince the children that their second dose wasn’t going to kill them. I finally was able to trick some of them into taking their doses by stating that I had to take four doses myself so they had to stop complaining.

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June 13, 2012 

            Today was Alex’s 20th Birthday! We celebrated with a fruity coconut cake at lunch and went out to dinner at Buena Vista. This afternoon, I met with the Women’s Cooperative. I paid them for the items that they have completed so far. Nine of the headbands were returned because they can’t be embroidered due to the fabric. Tania, Judy, and I gave the women a talk on the quality of the embroidery pertaining to colors, borders, and the amount of details on each item. When talking with the women today, they discussed how the Cooperative has helped them out. The work of the Coop provides them with a job so they don’t need to seek out a job in Otavalo. Working for the Coop allows the women to stay at home, take care of their children and their homes. During our time in Yambiro, some doctors from the Jambi Huasi Clinic gave the children of the village check ups.

Photo Set

The Sacred Tree “Something Leche” with many different stories/myths about it’s existence.

Photo Set

Parque Condor

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June 12, 2012

Maggie came back! Yayy! Maggie is the owner of La Posada del Quinde and is originally from California. It was great to walk down stairs in the morning to see Maggie’s wonderful face! Maggie is an amazing person! After breakfast, I sat outside with some of the students and listened to the class readings. At Yambiro, Haleigh and I taught the children how to tell time by playing “What time is it, Mr. Wolf?” with Haleigh and I as the lobas. It was a great game to play to tire out the children. Also today, Sairi came to class for the first time this year. Sairi is mi amor! Last year, he would talk with me everyday and draw me pictures. If only he wasn’t 12 years old! Sairi already gave me a bracelet as a gift. I think my one true love is a 12 year old. After coming back from Yambiro, I had a tuna and avocado appetizer from la posada and it was seriously one of the most delicious things, I have ever tasted. Ever. I attended the Gender and Culture Class in the evening because they were discussing coming out rituals and stories. It was a great class and an amazing experience for me. For class, we had pizza and I went to Marco’s later with Julia, Mai Cua, Ben, and Sara.

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June 11, 2012

            After breakfast, I walked with Haleigh and Lucas to Jambi Huasi to see the Yachac. The Yachac is the Kichwan form of a medicine man. He focuses on the positive and negative spirits in the body and claims to be able to heal many illnesses of the body including: allergies, headaches, and body pains. After that, I went through the market with Hailey. At Yambiro in the afternoon, I helped out with the sustainability interns by washing out the clinic. Eventually, we are going to paint the walls of the clinic and place tiles in the lower level of the clinic. The nursing students are going to present a informational session about parasites for the women of the community, encouraging them to boil water to eliminate some, if not most of the parasites. I went to Buena Vista with most of the “elders” of the group and then went to Marcos later with Julia and Sara.

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June 10, 2012

            Today we went to Lake Cuicocha, a sunken-crater of a volcano that is now filled with water. It is a beautiful sight and later in the week, we will be able to do the hike around the lake. The rest of the day was spent lounging around and napping. For dinner, Julia, Haleigh, and I went dinner at the evening food market.

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June 9, 2012

Today, I went to the market to purchase more items for the Yambiro Project. Saturdays are a huge day for the market in Otavalo because tour groups are driven in on buses to experience the market that covers half the city. Earlier in the day, some of the group went to get their cuy rubbings at the Jambi Huasi Clinic. According to the cleansings, a majority of our group has parasites. I opt to stay at posada to read and lay out in the sun. After the market, I updated the Yambiro project spreadsheets. Yayy numbers! Then, we had a nice siesta before going out to dinner. For dinner, we went to a sketchy Chinese place with delicious, heaping plates of food. So yummy! We went as a group to check out the nightlife and ended up spending the night at La Jamba. It was a successful night.

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June 8, 2012

 

            This morning we went for a tour of the Jambi Huasi Medical Clinic. The Jambi Huasi Clinic was established in 1984 to bridge a gap between the mestizo and indigenous people of Otavalo, Ecuador. The indigenous people of Ecuador have complications receiving medical treatments that fit their beliefs due to the language barrier between them and Western doctors. The clinic provides both traditional medicine as well as western medical practices to their patients. The clinic provides services to about 9,000 people per year; ranging 35-55 people per day. The services include yachac (medicine man), cuy rubbings (guinea pig cleansings), orthodontics, gynecology, tests and treatments for parasites, and other practices. A brief summary of the indigenous medical practices: the indigenous people believe that there needs to be a balance of warm and cold in your body; if there is an imbalance, it creates pain and sickness in the body. Last year when I got a cuy rubbing, I was informed that I had a lot of heat in my body especially my back. I was advised to include “cold” items into my diet (ex. mint). The clinic also provides natural family planning presentations for the women of indigenous communities. The indigenous women have on average 4.9 children while the average for mestizo women is 3.1 children. The average education level of the indigenous communities in Imbabura (the province surrounding Otavalo) is 2nd grade for women and 5th grade for men. Of the overall population of Ecuador, the indigenous people make up about 6.1% while the mestizo people make up a majority of the population.

            After hiking back to posada for lunch, we headed to the Parque Condor. [ Check it out here: http://www.amigosdelasaps.org/content/parque-condor/edrBD909F5A60CA2BC26]  The two giant condors were huge. Seriously, frighteningly large with sketchy red eyes. They could probably kill a human. But moving on, the view from the park is majestic. We got to watch two Bald Eagles fly around in the beautiful surrounding. Also, I got to see a Snowy Owl as well, as seen in the Harry Potter movies; even the informational sign mentioned the role of the Snowy Owl in the great series! Ecuador, you are doing things right.

            On our way back from the Parque Condor, we stopped by the sacred tree (straggly, out-of-place and crooked-looking) that sits on top of the hill and overlooks Otavalo and Lago San Pablo. There are many stories that go along with the tree. 1. The tree was burned down at one point in history and grew back into its fullness only a few years after. 2. Back in the day, children who died in the area were buried around the tree because the spirit of the tree protects them. Every year, in June, there is a large mass that honors the tree and pays respect to the children that are buried around it. 3. There were once star-crossed lovers from separate tribes that were forbidden to see each other. Eventually, they died and the man embodied the tree while the women embodied the lake. Therefore, the man is constantly overlooking and watching with longing at the lake. 4. It a tree of fertility. 5. Various other stories and myths that go with the tree.

            For dinner, a group of us went back to the small family-owned restaurant that we went to a couple days ago. I got an egg sandwich, which was a huge omelet on a deliciously toasted bun. It was amazing. After dinner, we headed back to posada. Every Friday evening, there is live music at La Posada del Quinde. The live music is a local indigenous group, the men of the group play the violin, sing/vocalize, and use other instruments. It was some really upbeat music and I will try to upload a song or two later on. Good Night!

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June 7, 2012

 

            Today wasn’t that interesting compared to yesterday. I journaled little in the morning and organized and took inventory of the Yambiro products that I have so far. After breakfast, Haleigh and I went for a walk through the market. I met with Judy later in the morning to update the spreadsheets and enter the receipts into the form that is going to be turned back into campus. After lunch, the rest of the group went up to complete service learning in Yambiro while I laid down for the afternoon because I wasn’t feeling well. I spent the rest of the night resting. Yay sleep! By late evening, I was starting to feel better. Yayy! Tomorrow morning we are going to the Jambi Huasi Medical Clinic for a tour and will be able to learning a little bit about the mixture of traditional and Western medical practices that are offered there. In the afternoon, we will be going on a hike to the Condor Park and the sacred fertility tree on the way to the park. I remember taking the hike last year and it was exhausting so we will see how it goes with the group. It is a gorgeous hike, so I’m excited to be able to experience it again. The pictures I took last year do not give it justice. Buenas Noches!

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June 6, 2012

            Today was huge for the Yambiro Project. I started off the day going to the market to purchase more items and headbands for the women to embroider while we are here. After the market, I updated the spreadsheets and organized all of the materials that I was bringing up to Yambiro later in the day.

            When we got to Yambiro in the afternoon, I met with the Women’s Cooperative and paid the women their wages for the items left last year. With each receipt, I had the women fill out the Tax Withholding Forms that need to be completed for the McNeely Center. The items that they completed over the past are breathtaking. The detail that they have put into them is amazing. After paying them for their items, a majority of the women thanked us for the opportunity to work with us. They spoke about how this opportunity allows them to see the extent of their creativity. Then, gave the new items to be embroidered to Maria Enma, the leader of the Coop, to distribute to the women. She knows the skills of each woman and distributes the items accordingly. Next Wednesday, I will meet with the Women’s Coop again. I plan on interviewing each of the women to learn more about them. With the two new members, I am excited to see what they contribute to the Coop.

            After I was done talking with the Women of the Coop, I went to help out with the last two sessions of the English class with Sam and Haleigh. We introduced ourselves and went over the expectations of the classroom. After having each of the students introduce themselves and tell us their favorite animal, we went over numbers in a large group and then had them practice writing out them out. The five groups are separated by ages, ranging from 7-15 years old. This year, the Yambiro leaders invited children from another community to attend the classes. With each age group, we adjusted our lesson plans to fit with their level of knowledge. It was great o be working with the children of Yambiro again they have grown up so much in the past year, it is amazing. One of the little girls told me after class that the other teachers and I are sabio. That’s right, I got called wise!

            When we were finished with our service learning for the day, us students headed back to Posada while Tania and Judy met with the community leaders for a second time to discuss the decision of the water transport system. On Thursday, they should be starting to work on laying out the pipes for the water distribution project! After a quick debriefing of what went well and could be done better with service learning, a group of us went to Marco’s dinner and stopped by the evening food market for some empanadas. When I got back to Posada, I updated the spreadsheets for the day and took inventory of the items that I received from the Women’s Coop earlier in the afternoon. It was a long but exciting day for all of us students. You can see the excitement in each of the students after they got back from Yambiro today. It is great to see their enthusiasm after working with the children. Since, we were required to prepare lesson plans before arriving, the teaching went smoother than last year. It also helps that we have more teachers overall and a majority of them are proficient with Spanish which helps to keep the children under control. Hasta luego!

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June 5, 2012 7:19pm

            Today was supposed to be our first day of doing service learning in Yambiro but due to the community celebration of a children’s day, we were unable to teach them class. The children were busy partaking in festivities further up the mountain.

            Earlier in the day, I was updated on the current situation in Yambiro. The new community president is Blanca, the first women to be a community leader in Yambiro. This is exciting news and the scholarships (Premio de Beca) for Viviana and Nancy and future recipients are helping to create future female leaders in the community.  Blanca is a positive step to show the other women of the community what they can accomplish. Sadly, there were recently two deaths in the community so things have been moving slowly due to the organization of funerals and mourning. Our philosophy with the Yambiro Project is to work in concert with the community. So the directors met with the community leaders last night and asked them what projects, they wanted us to help out with. After discussing the needs of the community, the top priorities of Yambiro are a Water Distribution Project and Greenhouse Project.

            As for the Water Distribution Project, the Ecuadorian government helped replace the water pipe in the community but the pipe is small and breaks from the pressure. The pipe provides water to several communities in the area and is not reliable. The community wants to replace the pipe so the rest of the community will have reliable access to water. The estimate of project without factoring in the cost of an engineer was almost $5,000. Both the Project and the community do not have the funds to allow this project to happen but the community leaders will decide on whether or not they want to proceed with the Water Distribution project by Wednesday night.

            Another concern of the community is the problem of parasites. The doctor at the Jambi Huassi Medical Clinic will be coming up to the community to examine the children and possibly the adults if funds allow. Money is an issue. There will possibly be an intervention with women and educating them on how to encourage boiling water to kill the parasites.

            The Greenhouse Project has been a priority but the water project is more important. The water transport system may cost more than is available in funds and the Greenhouse Project may be put into motion instead. During the meeting with the community leaders, there was constant gratification for allowing us to work with the community and for them working with the us for the last three years especially thanking Patricia Bolanos, who wasn’t able to attend this year due to illness in the family.

            As for the Women’s Coop, the leaders believe that it is providing good work for the community and there will be two more women joining the cooperative this year. There will now be eight women partaking in the embroidering of items. Tomorrow morning will be a big market day, I will be purchasing the rest of the items that the women will be embroidering. The women will need to fill out a Tax Withholding Form and I will be paying them for the items that they completed over the past year. I will also be distributing out the items that they will be embroidering while we are here in the next couple of weeks.  If there is enough time, I want to interview the women to update the biographies that we have on record, but that probably won’t happen until next week. Yayyy! Busy day tomorrow!!!

            After coming back from Yambiro, I went on a walk with a group of the students and we got some helado, some brownis, petted some perritos, and ate some pie. Then, we went to dinner at a small family-owned Mexican restaurant near the marketplace. Afterwards, we tasted sheep meat, colada morada and had a few empanadas.  Today was the first day of class for the Gender and Culture class so I spent my time sending emails, journaling, and updating Xcel sheets while most of the other students were in class. Buenos noches! Tomorrow is going to be a huge day for the Yambiro Project!