Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Canadians...friends or foes? (Team Ecuador)

Ecuador is home to the mountain that is the furthest point away from the center of the Earth. Fact. Taller than mount Everest you say? That's right ladies and gentlemen, Mt. Cotopaxi is the mother of all mountains, and we got to experience it from well, about the same distance we as Seattlites experience Mt. Ranier on a day to day basis.
On the equator, water doesn't swirl clockwise or counterclockwise. Fact.
In fact, water doesn't swirl at all, it simply drains directly down the sink and we have the video to prove it.
One hour in the sun on the equator is equivalent to three hours of sun in say Southern California. Fact. And some of us have the sunburns to prove it!

Team Ecuador has had quite the adventure over the past week. First let's discuss the fact that Ecuadorians have an unhealthy and irrational fear of rain. Funny because it rains here quite often. How do we know they have a fear of rain you might be asking yourself? Well it's because on our last visit to the San Juan festival in the main square of Cotacachi, we experienced screaming and sprinting for cover do to the surprise down pour in the late afternoon. This was extremely alarming to the five of us and we originally thought we were in some sort of danger, but we were pleasantly or more appropriate maybe, weirdly surprised to find that the fear and chaos came from such a simple, harmless thing like rain.

Another highlight was our touristy visit to Quito, the giganto capital of Ecuador.
1. We got to take cable cars up the side of a mountain in order to better view just how vast the capital is. Kellie tried, but failed, to talk the rest of us into renting horses to go up the rest of the mountain for a better view. Funny because she's not even legally allowed to ride horses due to her lack of balance. We reminded her of that fact and so descended the mountain shortly after our picture needs had been satisfied.
2. Pizza Hut is severely underrated in the sates. After 20 some odd days of mostly rice, beans, and vegetables, a trip to Pizza Hut in the heart of Quito was just what the girls of Ecuador needed. Yes, our lunch in Quito was spent ordering 4 medium pizzas and a 3 liter Pepsi.
3. Next stop on the tourist journey was a giant crater from a dormant volcano where a town is now present. Sounds a lot less cool in a blog, but trust us when we say that it was pretty legit to see a town in the middle of a volcano.
4. Now a trip to Ecuador wouldn't be complete without a trip to the physical equator line right? We thought that too and so we took a little trip to the place we Ecuadorians like to call the Mitad del Mundo, which in English translates to the middle of the world. This my friends, is the equator. That thick red line on the globe? Yeah that's real and we saw it. Not only that, but we learned a lot about it. For instance, it is possible to stand an egg up on a nail on the equator. Like we previously mentioned, water does not swirl in any direction on the equator. Your shadow on the equator is much more accurate to your actual size as well. Not only that, but fun fact, your shadow disappears twice a year at the stroke of noon for approximately three minutes due to the fact that the sun is directly above you. And don't worry if you don't believe any of this, it's probably all on Wikipedia and also Mandi's camera for documentation of course.
5. To end our fantastic adventure in Quito we went to a concert. Naturally all of the music was in Spanish, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves anyway.

Speaking of music Kellie has decided to learn the Shakira World Cup song, dance. Have we mentioned that dancing is not her strong suit to begin with? Let alone an African dance. We'll keep you updated on how that goes.

In other news:
1. We now refer to Jamie as Santiago because in Spanish Santiago means James. We figured close enough and hence forth she will now be called Santiago.
2. Kellie and Mandi both share the love for farm animals. Mandi's favorite animal is a cow and she has made it a personal goal to get a picture riding one before the 8 weeks are up. Kellie has a love for pigs and claims that pigs are good pets because if someone is attacking you, your pet pig will somehow kill the attacker for you. A guard pig if you will?
3. Speaking of farm animals, Erica seems to be some sort of chicken whisperer. Sometimes it's best to not ask questions.
4. On Sunday afternoons we work with jovenes (young people) and play games with a side of bible study. We have learned that games with instructions in Spanish are rather difficult and create a lot of confusion and asking "wait, what's going on?" Eventually the instructions are interpreted more or less and the fun ensues.
5. Diet Coke and Ruffles are a necessity in team Ecuador's kitchen and we can in fact consume a whole 3 liter Diet Coke and a large bag of Ruffles in the span of just one day. These two American products are definitely worth the extremely inflated prices.
6.Phase 10, a fun card game that can be purchased for just $4 at your nearest Target, has become a nightly past time because really, what else is there to do in Cotacachi after 6 PM?
7. We have become celebrities in a small village outside of Cotacachi. After working at a day retreat with young people, singing songs for them in Spanish and English, and also playing silly games that involve throwing paper in the air, we have earned celebrity status. That's right people, we got our pictures taken with the kids and everything.
8. Potatoes are extremely hard to find when you just want good ole fashion American potato salad on the Fourth of July late on a Sunday. And who woulda thunk that we'd find it in the last tienda (small store) we'd think to look? It just proves that you just never know in Ecuador.

This week and next week we will be teaching English at a village 2 hours away called La Loma. La Loma is home to a large Afro-Ecuadorian community. It is a rural village in the desolate and gorgeous mountains. We had quite the adventure getting there however because our car engine overheated and so we were stranded for approximately 45 minutes until we hired a truck to drive us the rest of the way. We are getting very comfortable riding in the beds of trucks and by comfortable I mean lots of bumps, but lots of laughs. Our first days of teaching English have gone well. Surprisingly, the older women know a lot more English then we thought and we are looking forward to working with them for the next two weeks.

Cars breaking down is a common theme throughout our trip as well because on Monday we had an expedition to some hot springs for a little fun in the sun, and ended up overheating our car engine for I believe the fifth or sixth time since we've been here. Good thing we're not scared of exploding cars or else we'd probably never drive anywhere here. Luckily we made it to the hot springs and had a great day. Erica and Mandi had a blast dunking the boys, but got dunked in return. I am pleased to report that even though both of them probably drank far too much hot spring mineral water, neither of them ended up sick and we all went home happy and exhausted.

To conclude this week's update we are all pleased to report that Spain beat Germany in soccer today. Life is good. Stay tuned for another update from the equator next week, until then...

"Ya neva know in Ecuador..."

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