Saturday, March 14, 2009

Week 1: An abundance of cute kids and dead pigs.

This has been a big week for us. I'll just go through it day by day with a lot of pictures. Read as much or as little as you want. If you're bored, just look at the pictures.

Sunday’s Events:

- Taking a taxi to a church across town, only to find out when we got there that there’s another church we could have walked to. There are 2 chapels and 3 branches here in Riobamba.

-Almost pulling the bench in front of me over when I used it to help me stand up for the rest hymn.

-Going to Chambo (countryside farmland outside of Riobamba) with Carlos and his family. His wife’s parents own a house and some land there. We ate cuy (guinea pig) for lunch and then went to see the live cuy that Carlos’ father-in-law raises to sell to restaurants. They were so cute. I felt kinda bad for eating something that probably looked a lot like my brothers’ old pet guinea pig, Gilligan. It tasted kind of like chicken but with kind of a weird oily taste to it as well.

Squeakin' away in their cages.

The pregnant ones.

Carlos' father-in-law proud of his little guinea pig business.

We went on a 2 hour walk through the countryside after lunch. We got to know a lot of dogs, pigs, ducks, chickens, sheep, llamas, and cows. It was so nice to get away from the traffic and close-together buildings in Riobamba. The people we crossed paths with were so friendly. It’s such a nice change from living in Spain.

A couple of cute kids we passed working on their parents' farm.

The most bananas I've ever seen in one place.

This little sheep had a thing for Jonathan's old-man white velcro shoes.

The countryside here is beautiful.

After our walk Jonathan played an epic game of Jenga with Carlos and his family.

Look at the concentration in his face. This was the longest Jenga game I've ever seen.

We had our first experience with the Campaña Médica (Medical Campaign) in a school of a little community called San Vicente de Tipín. We drove 2 hours to get there and went with some doctors and a dentist. Kids from the surrounding farms were brought into a classroom and lined up to be checked out by a doctor and a dentist and given medicines if needed. It was the first time most of the kids had seen the dentist. I helped get the height and weight of all the kids and Jonathan wrote down notes for the dentist.

Some girls waiting for us to call their names so I could weigh them and get their height.

These boys were a little nervous about seeing the doctor.

Here the doctor was handing out prescriptions (mainly antibiotics) to the kids.

She wanted me to take her picture and then got shy.

Eating (or drinking) lunch.

Getting checked out by the dentist. These kids were brave for never having seen a dentist before.

Most of the kids had cavities and the dentist brought a portable drill and anesthetic, but all the kids were terrified of the shot to numb their mouths. He drilled out a lot of cavities anyway (without numbness) and the kids just stood there and clenched their fists until it was over. I was so impressed. They have a high pain threshold.

The line to see the doctor.

The cutest baby ever. He couldn't stop giggling.


We drove to a different little farming community about an hour away where one of our coworkers is teaching a business development class to people around our age. Jonathan and I had to give a little presentation about what makes businesses successful in the United States. We used examples from our dads, who both run businesses, and from our experience working in a restaurant. We’re really using our Spanish and it’s getting better every day. I’m surprised at how well Jonathan’s doing. He speaks Portuguese from his mission and he’s picking up Spanish really quickly. It helps that he’s not shy and doesn’t ask me to talk for him. He just goes for it and people usually understand him.

Wednesday is office day where we plan and work on things for the coming week. In about a month we will start small business development classes for people here in Riobamba that have businesses but need help improving them. Jonathan is designing brochures and posters with his awesome graphic design skills to publicize the classes around the city. We both have to learn the manual inside and out so we can help teach the classes.

The most exciting part of Wednesday was my first successful attempt at being domestic in my marriage and in Ecuador! I looked up a recipe online for Locro, a traditional Ecuadorian potato cheese soup, and I made it. And it was good! It was pretty exciting for Jonathan and me.

We drove to Guamote about an hour away to go to a meeting with the leaders of all the surrounding communities. Our coworker Adriana wanted to make plans with them for the medical campaign she’s in charge of. The meeting ended up being in Quichua, the native tongue, which neither us nor our coworkers speak. So… lots of waiting around. BUT, Thursday is market day for Guamote which was pretty awesome. Picture small streets crowded with native people pulling around sheep and pigs on leashes, stands in the streets selling everything you could think of, sheep riding on top of cars and busses, ladies carrying a live chicken under one arm and selling ice cream from the other. Crazy…

A stand on market day in Guamote selling all kinds of bowls and buckets.

One of the millions of stands selling these fedora hats. I'm pretty sure everyone already has one here so who knows who they're getting sold to.

Some ladies looking to buy belts while they hold their sheep on leashes.

I wonder if these leashed pigs at the market know what's in store for them. (see below picture)

I just hope none of the live pigs at the market recognized any of their friends. Total carnage, but apparently delicious.

Stand selling medicinal herbs, powders, flower petals, etc.
We took all our dirty clothes from the past week to a place to have them cleaned. It only cost $5 for a week’s worth of clothing. I still washed all of our underwear by hand though. It took me a little over two hours of scrubbing to clean 30 pieces of clothing. The skin on my right hand is peeling pretty badly now and I have a bunch of scrapes on my fingers from the cement basin. Next time I better use gloves. I feel like such a pioneer housewife. :)

We had spaghetti for dinner this time but the sauce we found was pretty much ketchup labeled spaghetti sauce. Not so great. We did fry some bananas too, which was easy and delicious.

Mmmm.... So healthy......


Yesterday we went to another community a couple hours away with some doctors and dentists. This time we went to the nursery school/daycare for kids ages 0 to 4 years old. Jonathan went in the room before me to carry in some medical supplies. He came out as I was about to walk in and said, “Amanda, you better not go in there…” He sounded grave and I was thinking it was something bad but he went on, “you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the cuteness of it all.” He was right.

I walked into the building and almost 40 little kids were sitting in tiny tables and chairs eating watermelon and making a mess. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

We got down to work with the doctors and it turned out to be a little more difficult than with school-aged kids. I helped get heights and weights again but a lot of the kids were scared and would cry. I was also trained by the dentists' assistant on how to fill out a dental health status chart for each child. Jonathan wrote out the records of all the prescriptions that one of the doctors was giving out. It seemed like all the kids in the daycare had runny noses. Poor things. It’s pretty cold up in the high mountains where these communities are.

This is a little bit of the cuteness I was overwhelmed with.

Dentist Manuel checking out her teeth.

Jonathan stretching out his cramped hands after writing out so many prescriptions for the doctor.

Another little cutie pie getting checked out by the doctor.

The dentist was so awesome. Some of the kids were a little scared so he let them play with his tools and get familiar with them first. They loved it.

The dentist even let one little guy give him a flouride treatment first.

We’re loving it here in Ecuador. The people are so nice. The kids we’ve been helping are darling. It’s almost always sunny but hardly ever hot. It’s beautiful. We’re learning a lot even after one week. We couldn’t ask for a better start to our marriage. Even though we do usually feel like giants here. Especially Jonathan.


Lindsay said...

How awesome. I am so jealous. I would give anything to be back in South America.

Michemily said...

So cool! And yes, Jonathan looks like a giant in that picture. :D

cathy said...

Great post! I'll never complain about waiting in the doctor's office. And the dentist - wow. I'm going to show my kids that not everyone gets to watch dvds whilst having their teeth checked.
And way to go with the domestic skills. I'm proud of you!

Jerrea said...

Those are such great pictures! The kids ARE darling! We love hearing about all your adventures. By the way, the guinea pigs are cute to, YOU MONSTERS!

David and Brooke Gallagher said...

What beautiful pics! I love the pic of the little girl being shy. What a fun experience to have and to share with a husband! Can't wait for more!

Jessica said...

I love the clothes the kids are wearing, and they are very adorable! Ah, washing clothes by hand...brings back memories. You will get really fast at it soon! I love hearing about what you are up to!

Scottrbarnes said...

That pic with the shy girl wearing the hat should be in National Geographic or something.

Ecuador looks beautiful. I'm jealous.

Sam and Rachelle said...

Guinea pigs...really!! lol. You are a REAL women!! I can't even stomach a steak.....I have a feeling I wouldn't make it. I would have to claim vegetarian!! I absolutely LOVE reading your blog and living vicariously through you two. What a amazing experience! Those kids are so amazing. I think every time I held one or saw them getting their teeth drilled with clenched fist I would have to hid in the corner whipping away tears. We are SO SPOILED here in America!!
You are such an amazing person. Johnathon really lucked out!! Well, you did too. Johnathon is an angel:)

barrett, danielle, and baby stephen said...

what an incredible adventure! You are amazing Amanda - so happy to see all that you are doing! And, Congratulations on getting married!