Tuesday, February 9, 2016

HThis has been a very busy past three days.  Saturday, one of the young women in my host family, Lissete, took me along with her sister and her boyfriend on a wild goose chase to try to find a place that would unblock ( disbloquear) the phone I bought in Nicaragua.  Some of you might recall that my iphone was stolen there ( my fault for being too cavalier with my cosas) and I bought a NOkia with a good camera.  The funny part of the story is that I did not take my glasses with me when I went shopping in Leon for it and saw the price as 375.  I assumed it was 375 cordobas ( which now would be about 13 US dollars) so clearly I was not thinking correctly but I knew it was not a lot and I don't really know what the exchange rate was then.  Anyhow, I bought the phone and its camera was very good but when I got my VISA bill i realized the mistake I had made.  So, now I owned this very good phone which fortunately I was able to use in Bulgaria and Liberia and took some very good pictures.

I brought the phone with my to Ecuador, thinking surely it would work here but NO, it is blocked here.  But, hopefully, I will be able to find someone to unblock it so that I can use it as a phone and as a camera as I have in so many other places around the world.

But, I have the iphone that my sweet sobrina loaned to me which I am using as a camera ( and Ipod) but cannot use as a phone as it is locked into Verizon.  So, I have some good pictures to post here for your viewing pleasure....should you so desire:)

On Sunday, Lissete took me and another volunteer, Natasha, to La Mitad del Mundo and on Monday we all went to a mass led by my host mother's brother who is a sacerdote.  After the mass, they prepared a deliciosa almuerzo for us and we had a lovely time afterwards to chat.  Finally, on the way home, the family drove me to a tourist attraction of which they are very proud, La Virgen, which is high on a hill overlooking all of Quito and we continued through the Historic District which is amazing.

This lucky country has never suffered internal ( civil) so they have not destroyed their country as so many other countries have. At least as far as I know other than the Incan and Spanish occupations.  Nor, have they been attacked/bombed by extranjeros so many of their old buildings are still in tact.  Also, another thing in their favor is that they do not seem to suffer earthquakes, hurricanes or other natural disasters.  They do have 16 volcanos within their boundaries so that is a threat ( 3 or 4 of which are currently active)

The Historical District, of which I only have one or two photos since we were in a car on the way home after a long day, is very very charming and many of the buildings have been restorado and are just absolutely beautiful.  Others, many others, are in various states of disrepair and are awaiting an investor and restoration.  I can't imagine how anyone could assess the internal integrity of the foundation and adjacent buildings but there must be a way.  A lot of money appears to have been invested already.

 One aspect that is so so charming, which was present in Leon Nicaragua's few remaining colonial buildings, is the interior plazas with the surrounding balconies and windows going up several floors, all looking down into the interior plazas.  This combined with Quito's very pleasant and mild climate explains the appeal of the place.

Now, for some photos:

The pictures above are of my host mother making humitas...a delicious cosa made of corm meal,a little fresh cheese and wrapped in corn husk, then boiled to cook and served warm...Yummmmmm !!!

These are the three sweet young Ecuadorianos who took me to this mall to find a place to unblock my phone.  The two girls are part of my host family and the young man is Daniel,  a very nice fellow.   The Mall could have been in any city in the US..  The mall store could not unlock my phone so we tried to find another place too, in the city, but it was closed for Carnaval....and that is another story.
 Lissete at Le Mitad del Mundo ( the middle of the world)...it started out very hot and sunny.
They had a colobri ( hummingbird) painting contest like many cities have cows, bulls, horses, etc.  The entries are now housed at the Middle of the World.
This is the entrance  to the Middle of the World
This was a display that showed how they used triangulation, using a sexton, to find the location of the equator.  This actually was the most interesting part of the whole outing.....I never thought about it before.  I learned that the aborigines had determined where the equator was thousands  ( or hundreds) of years earlier but the French led an expedition in the 17 or 1800 using sextons etc and guess what....they determined the aborigines were right.  :)  Gotta love that.


A view from the top of that monument...I think to the West.  The big bldg to the right ( white and black) is the UN building for South America UNASUR

I took this photo to show the money plant.  This is a display of a woman of an indigenous tribe, not sure which one, but she has her baby and some money plant.  Our grandmother in Juniata County grew the money plant too.
This shows the clothing of a indigenous tribe....jaguar skin.  Apparently there are still a lot of them in the Amazonian part of the country.
Fortunately for all, I had one lovely foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern, at least for a few seconds.
This one is for Ramelle.  He told me to watch out for the shrunken head sellers along the road. Hopefully you can read the words...tells the story.  Have not seen any heads...peoples or monkeys.

Natasha and me, she is another aspirante, near the monument that houses a museum of sorts.  There are a lot of pavilions on the grounds with various emphasis.  You could spend a lot of time there reading everything which fortunately is in Spanish and English.

These two photos of our dinner on Monday at the home of the sacerdote, Juanita's brother.   He is the one in the cap and Juanita is the small lady in the red shirt.  They are lovely people.  We had a very nice dinner.  On the table in front of us is a bonsai arrangement and a nativity scene.

This is a view of part of Quito and the Andes in the background . Those folks in the photo are just other extranjeros.  The Ecuadorianos never wear shorts.

This is a quick shot from the car of the Basicila in the Historical district of Quito. I want to get inside.  It sits on a knoll and is huge.

So, thats it for now,
Love to all,

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I have a  few more photos to share.  We have Language and Culture classes , along with our TEFL classes and all the other trainings they have for us.  These photos are from Culture class this morning where we went to a local woman's home and made some local food.  We had guacamole, queso and salsa, llapingachos,  a potato pancake of sorts and a fruit juice of the tomato de arbol.  Everything was delicious but we did it at 9:30 in the morning and I had had breakfast only about 2 hours earlier so I was sort full.  I tasted everything and it was all delicious.

Madison and i were in charge of making the guac.  She graduated from U. of Hawaii...loves it over there so we have that in common.

These are our two teachers...Fatima and Paulina....lovely ladies, so lovely.  They are cutting up the tomates de arbol which they put in the blender ( liquadora) with a little cane sugar and vanilla to make the drink.

Getting the table ready to go.......
We had one of our classes on a roof top this afternoon....warm and sunny but not hot...amazing weather.

I was online at lunch time looking for a super bowl party to go to on Sunday.  I did not find one but I did see some articles about Ecuador spending 3 million to buy tourism ads in the superbowl.  Watch for them.

More later,
Love to all

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Could hardly wait to get home to post this.  I took a little trip into Quito today, to visit my host family's restaurant among other things and it was a very rewarding trip.  First of all, their bus station is so so so organizado !!!!!!!!!!!  I was so impressed.  People actually stood in lines and calmly filed into the buses.  Also, on my way to the restaurant, I saw something I had heard about.  The government shuts down a major thru way, Avenida de 10 de Augosto, for 50 blocks....50 cuadras...so that the gente ( thats all of us) can ride our bikes, walk our dogs or kids, run, walk whatever , sin autos for 50 cuadras !!!  Why doesn't every city do that ?????  I can hardly wait to get out there myself and I'm told there are places to rent bikes.   On my way back into Nayon, I discovered the many flower shops are open on Sunday and there are not so many people to get in the way of my photos so I was able to take some pictures which are attached.  I had a little lunch in the restaurant, which is very very nice and chatted with a sweet girl who wants to be an azafata when she grows up...that's flight attendant.  She is 11 and so so sweet..dimples and everything. So, here are some photos.
It was hard to take a photo from the bus but this is part of the highway that is closed for bikers etc.  I tried to get a dog, a baby and a bicycle.

Interior of the family restaurant

Another interior shot.....very very nice.

And there is that sweet little girl.

This is the lovely salad she served me with the potato soup and a plate of rice, frijoles and cueso fresa (fresh cheese)  I think that means not aged.  It is delicious, whatever it means.

The outside of the restaurant...very humilde ( humble) looking and so nice inside.  They serve typical Ecuadoran food altho she told be to come back next weekend and she would make me Mexican tortillias.

Each of the garden shots is of a different tienda ( shop) along the main road coming into Nayon. 

A few of the other aspirantes ( trainees) and one dog from his host home.  This is the corner of the main park in the town.  There was a baptism in the church in front of the park and apparently there was a party planned afterwards but I did not go...nor was I invited.

The Nayon city park

The catholic church fronting on the park.   We stuck our heads inside and it is beautiful, it was full and the baptism was underway.

A view of the bus station.....it looks deserted but I am told that on weekdays, it is lleno ( full)  But, today it was oh so tranquillo ( calm) and so clean...beautiful.  And we stood in orderly lines.  What a pleasure.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Well, I made it to Ecuador.  All is well and the group of other volunteers seems great and of course the PC staff here is wonderful.  They make us seem like they have been waiting for us for ages !!!!  Also, from what I can tell, we will all
Some of us waiting in line at immigration in Ecuador
The greeting by the PC staff at the airport in Ecuador.  It was very sweet of all of them to meet us and help us get to the training center our first day.  Notice all the folks with lots of luggage.

The training town, Nayon, is nicknamed the Garden city.  There are nurseries all over town and they are beautiful.  This is a nursery viewed from the roof of the PC training center.

Sort of a cloudy day from the roof of the PC training center. 
be assigned to urban sites in the Andes or on the Coast...not in the Amazon.  I want to take a guided tour to the Amazon before I leave here....they say the jungle is beautiful with hundreds of species of birds and lots of wild animals...  Here are some preliminary photos..  I'll try to get some pretty ones of the flowers on the street tomorrow. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Two days before leaving for Ecuador

Hello friends,

Just had to post this photo.....2 days before leaving for Ecuador....equator....ecuador...get it ????  I don't know where I will be assigned yet but for the first three months, we will all be living near the Peace Corps training facility located in Nayon which I believe is an eastern suburb of Quito, the capital city.   I found it on Google Earth and it looks very charming.  I am scheduled to leave here on Tuesday morning for Miami for one night with arrival in Quito on Wednesday afternoon where I'll be met by the host family with whom I'll live for the training period, about 3 months.  After the training period, we will each be assigned to a community somewhere in Ecuador..could be in the Amazonian region, on their western Pacific coast or in a mountain community in the Andes.  It will be fun to see where I end up.

More later

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hello again,

This is a test to see if this is working...as I had planned.  I made some changes on the blog set up and some of you got new emails....blah, blah blah. 

Please "comment" on the blog if you get this.

Your timely response will result in your invitation to visit me in Quito :)

Thank you,

Monday, December 7, 2015

Hello old friends,

I just learned that I will be leaving on January 26  to begin a 27 month assignment with Peace Corps in Ecuador.  I believe the first three months will be in Nayon, close to Quito, for training.  After that, I will be assigned to a site which could be anywhere in Ecuador.  This time, I will be teaching English, working with Ecuadoran English teachers and their students.  I'm not sure yet of all my responsibilities or opportunities, but I'll update this blog when I know more.