Wednesday, March 21, 2007


my time interning so far has been quite interesting. i started off with going to macará (about 4 hours from loja) for one of the monthly meetings of the organization. that same day we headed off to cross the peruvian border and spend the night in sullana (about 2 hours away). the next day was another meeting with more people working in the project. then we went back to macará to enjoy the fiestas. that day the president of ecuador had arrived and they were having a big celebration in the town square. music, dancing, poetry. the town was full of mayors, ministers, governors, journalists and tv crews. unfortunatelly, i was unable to meet the president. after a long night, we finally made it to zapotillo (an hour away), my new home base.

i got to relax in zapotillo a few days and then got to visit some of the communities that the project is working in. i visited tronco quemado where they are now, instead of selling garlic and onions at a very low price due to over-supply, they are making garlic paste and similar products and selling that in the area.

after that it was off to loja again. loja is at 2100 meters above sea level and zapotillo is at around 400 meters above sea level, so you can imagine the climate change. while i am constantly about to melt in zapotillo due to the heat, it is permanent springtime in loja. after a few days in loja i went up to quito (a 12 hour bus ride). i had to finish up some visa paperwork. i got to see soraya and her family.

now that i´m back in zapotillo, the main part of my internship will be commercializing some of the products they make locally in the communities: goat cheese (queso de cabra) and honey (miel).

happy naw-ruz!

Monday, February 26, 2007

heading west

things have not gone exactly as i had planned them here in ecuador. and because of that, i'm happy. after looking for a job at the catholic university didn't work out, i decided to start looking for a job or internship with an ngo here. i looked around for a while and stumbled upon an ngo that is based at the national university here. the ngo is called CATER: centro andino de tecnología rural (andean center of rural technology). they are doing a project in the western part of the province of loja in an area called zapotillo.
i haven't been to zapotillo yet but i'll be leaving on wednesday to head over there and see how everything is and figure out what i'll be doing specifically. this is a binational project (between ecuador and peru) that is working on a more sustainable usage of the dry forest in that area and also increasing the amount of organic products produced in the area. i will be focusing on the organic products side of things. they want to form groups of farmers who are interested in growing organic products that will be sold locally and regionally.
i'll try to keep updating the blog with information as it comes.

Friday, October 06, 2006

favorite picture from the fair

unfortunatelly, the fair here in loja has ended. it was definitely fun while it lasted but at least the taxi prices are back down to normal. this is one picture that i wanted to share. now i'm not sure what this bag is promoting. it could be "barbie" misspelled. or it could also be "baby". i like to think that maybe it really does say "Babi," just like the original Babis and then I wonder, would they have one that says "Baha'i"?

Friday, September 08, 2006

wi-fi in loja

as you may know, i have been trying to get a job at a university here. and well, it's been a struggle. they want to hire me but the problem is that i don't have a visa yet. now, here's what i have discovered. to get a visa i have to be contracted by an organization. the university used to contract people without visas and then they got into super big trouble with the government and had to pay loads of money. a lawyer advised them not to contract people without visas. what the administration still fails to understand is that in my contract there would be a clause that states that the contract has no validity until i get a work visa. but it's friday and no one is at the university. if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

back to the wi-fi title. i have just discoved a secret. well, maybe it's not a secret but i feel like it is. for the past month here in ecuador i have been going to internet cafes to check my emails and whatnot. sometimes i would take my computer with me, but usually not. the cafeteria of the university has free wi-fi. and it's the bestest and fastest connection that i have found here so far. yipppiieeee! it totally makes my day or my month.

other news. these first 2 weeks of september are the weeks of the feria in loja (basically a big fair/fiesta). there's ferris wheels, bumper cars, stalls and stalls of things to buy, and concerts. i've seen two pretty good bands so far. one ecuadorian band called kruks'n karnak. and a colombian band called cabas. good music if you ever get a chance to check it out.

the feria is in honor of the virgen mary (also known as la churonita) of cisne (a town about 2 hours from here) who is brought on foot to loja for a month and then returned to cisne for the rest of the year. she is kept at a cathedral here in the center of town and every night for a week there are loads of fireworks right in front of the catherdral. also in her honor. ah, la churonita.

Friday, September 01, 2006

my birthday

well, i've been in loja for almost a month and it's pretty much been a vacation. one reason it's been a vacation is because the people in the legal department at the university i'm going to work at are on vacation so i can't start applying for a visa yet. not until monday. hopefully. you never know around here.

last weekend was my birthday and it was really great. first, we went to the house where i'm going to be living soon. i'll be renting a room from another Baha'i who's moving here from the states. the house is ginormous and beautiful. later on we went home and to my surprise everyone had decorated the house and there was a cake and snacks for my birthday. and as is ecuadorian tradition (or so i've been told) i had to take a bite from the cake and then everyone pushed my face into it. as is clear from this picture here.

after that our friend hal took us to a russian ballet on ice that was performing in loja. how surprising. it was beautiful. we got to see swan lake and the nutcracker.

other than that, i've just been hanging out and practicing lots of spanish.

Monday, August 14, 2006

i made it to loja

well, i have completed my teacher training course. i was in colombia for 7 weeks. it went by so fast. let me give you a quick run-down of things that have happened so far.

during my training course, we talked about all kinds of things in foreign language acquisition such as speaking, listening, pronunciation and so on. while working on pronunciation we got to try out some tongue twisters to use in our classes. here's one of my favorites:

a tutor who tooted the flute
tried to tutor two tooters to toot
said the two to the tutor
"is it harder to toot
or to tutor two tooters to toot?"

now say it 5 times fast!

and for those of you who love the question game (the one where you can only ask questions), i figured out that it's a good speaking activity for a class. that was a very exciting moment.

and now i'm in ecuador. it was quite an interesting journey here. i flew from cali to tulcan. tulcan is a border town on the ecuadorian side of the border. the airport has approximately two rooms (if you want to get an idea i have one picture from the tulcan airport in my flickr photos). one that you enter and go through immigration. my visa to enter the country is a stamp and in handwriting are the number of days i'm allowed to stay. the second room is the gate to go back outside to the same plane. then we continued on to quito. unfortunately, the flight was 1 hour late so i missed the last flights that go down to loja. sam picked me up from the airport and we went to the bus terminal to try to find a bus for me. luckily, there was one ticket left on the 8:20 bus to loja. perfect. we had a little bite to eat before my bus and then i was off.

i arrived in loja the next morning around 8:30. and that afternoon i went to the university to see about a job. well, it looks good and they want to hire me but we just need to see about a work visa. so keep your fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

adjusting to the heat

interesting meats that i have tried so far:
1. fried chicken intestine
2. fried cow lungs

note to self: don't try those ones again.

new snacks i love:
arepas con queso (don't worry soraya, i'm not eating them all the time)
and other little bread things (i'm not good with remembering the names)

number of times i've taken the wrong bus: 2

so it's been almost 3 weeks. i can hardly believe it. most of the time i feel like i just got here. in my tefl training course so far i've learned about methodologies for teaching languages and i've been able to refresh my english grammar. we've started working on lesson planning (which is where i need to do a lot of work). i have class with the two loveliest ladies, Italia and Milu. they both work at a school here in cali teaching english.

when i was packing up my things to come to south america, i had to make some decisions about what to bring and what not to bring. i saw my stack of Baha'i ruhi books (which are in english) and i also saw how little space i had left in my bags. i made a decision: i would leave them at home and get books in spanish when i get there. that's what i've done so far. i'm taking book 7 in spanish and somehow or other i'm tutoring book 4, also in spanish. it's helping me improve my spanish but then again, i end up being the quietest one there.

carlos came into town last weekend. that meant i had to venture to the airport. i got directions from my friends and i felt confident leaving 1.5 hours before his arrival. i was supposed to take a bus to the north of the city and then another to the airport. i got to the north. i waited a while for a bus to the airport but didn't see one. a bus came by and asked me where i was going. i said, "aeropuerto." he said yes and that i should get in. super, i thought. as we approached the exit for the airport the bus stopped and they told me i had to cross the highway and catch another bus the rest of the way. ok. i crossed the busy highway. and started walking, hoping that a bus or taxi would be coming by. a man on a motorcycle stopped and asked where i was going. i told him, "aeropuerto." he said he'd take me. so i got a ride the rest of the way (about 5 more minutes). so i made it to the airport in time and we found a much simpler way back to my house.

the next day we went to italia's house. she lives in the south of the city on a farm. it's absolutely gorgeous. it's on a hill and has a view of the whole city. i felt like i left the speed and noises of the city to escape to a calm farm. we decided to make this coconut dessert from scratch. italia's husband, diego, fixed lunch. we drank fresh squeezed mandarina juice. we took a siesta after lunch in the hammocks. what more can you ask for? without asking for it, we left with two canvas bags full of mandarinas, a dozen lemons and one coconut.

the following day we really ventured out to a city 3 hours away called armenia. in that region they grow loads of coffee and plantains. when we arrived there we figured out there was a festival in a town nearby called calarca. wonderful. we went and walked from street vendor to street vendor. trying some good food and sugar cane juice. yum. the next morning we went to another town, montenegro, to go to the parque nacional del cafe (national park of coffee). it's partly a park to educate about coffee and another part amusement park. it's interesting mix and a nice place to go. i felt a little bit like they didn't talk much about difficulties that coffee farmers might be having (i didn't get to see the whole park though). and that evening we returned to cali.

we explored a little bit more of cali. it soon came time for carlos to leave. this time we took the right way to the airport (no motorcycles).

the past few days i've been going to classes, going to study circles and i ventured out to the pool the other morning.

more stories to come. hopefully none involving strange meats and motorcycle rides.