So..... wow. I am exhausted.
I'll start on Friday the 17th, the day after my last post.
Actually, that's too tiring to think about. Quick summary seems nice. Jonathan and I spent Friday the 17th through Wednesday the 22nd living (camping) in a remote community about 1.5 hours outside of Riobamba. We, along with the Ascend staff, were in charge of an expedition of 50 United Statesians doing humanitarian projects in two communities to make people's lives better.
What got done:
- 2 brick ovens built for baking bread and pizza to sell
- most of a cafeteria for a school
- part of a classroom for a school
- cooking classes to teach the people how to use the ovens to make bread and pizza
- cooking classes to teach the people how to use healthy crops they grow in creative ways
- sex ed class
- family planning class
- 2 medical treatment clinics
- 2 playgrounds built and painted
- 2 community parks renovated and painted
- english classes
- remodeling of a classroom
- business techniques classes
- teaching new games to the kids
- making puppets, a puppet theater, and putting on a puppet show for the community
- dancing and cultural exchanges
- first aid class
- parenting techniques class
- nutrition classes
The people of the communities were really happy with how it all turned out and I think the expedition participants were too. You may remember my post about the Park City 5. This expedition was made up mostly of the friends and family of 5 teenagers from Park City who died in separate accidents within the same year. Serving some of the most needy people here in Ecuador was a way for loved ones to honor these kids in a meaningful way.
Planning for the expedition (menu, food, buying utensils, planning the agenda, figuring out the budget, etc.) was one of the most stressful and difficult things I've ever done. It has also been one of the most rewarding. And exhausting. I'm grateful for my current opportunity of working in such a satisfying job.
Wednesday, the last day of the expedition, I was sick. Again. Sick again. Seriously?
This time my sickness involved the most painful pain I've ever felt. Luckily it passed in less than a day.
Thursday we took an extra long 7 hour bus ride to Cuenca for the big fundraising Gala we've been planning. It was a fancy night. People were dressy. Money was raised. Music was played. Good food was eaten.
I had to translate a bit since we had a good mix of English and Spanish-speakers there. We danced until 2:30 am with our coworkers and then Jonathan and I crashed into a twin bed. Exhaustion and satisfaction. Did I mention I am exhausted? Also, it was fun.
Upon returning home to Riobamba from Cuenca, we found Jonathan's brother, James, waiting at our doorstep. We all headed up to Quito to pick up Kristine from the airport. Now we're doing Ecuador and it's great. And I'm tired. But it's great.
We've done Quito, now headed to Baños, then to the Amazon to explore, then to Guamote, then Guayaquil, then Montañita, then maybe Isla de la Plata. Home on the 8th in the morning!
Here are some memories from the expedition...
kids singing a welcome song for the expedition
view from one of the expedition communities
making pancakes for breakfast for 65 people.
handy ladder coming out of the roof
My new friends Blanca and Ana Maria who begged me to take a picture with them but then got really shy when the camera came out. They plan on not getting married until they're 30 and in the meantime studying to be chefs and working in big cities in Ecuador. Very rare ambitions for their culture.
new swingset in progress in Galte Miraloma.
this kid was so excited for the swing that he wouldn't wait for the paint to dry.