Greetings from Calle Dario Figueroa! Also known as MPIEHQ, also known as La
Casa de Las Mandarinas, which is to say the house of the women who wear the
pants. Last night Joey and Pete,
the last remaining former PDs said their goodbyes to us and boarded a plane for
greater civilization. It was a
pivotal moment in our experience in Ecuador thus far. Suddenly the lingering feeling of an extended vacation
evaporated and the sobering weight of our immense responsibilities here sunk
in. Fret not though, predicting
(wisely) that the conclusion of this moment might be too tremendous for us to
bear, we booked a weekend trip to the beach in Atacames, just to be sure we’d be
plenty relaxed before assuming our posts as the new Program Directors. For future reference, we, the blog
people are myself (Virginia), Heather and Abby. I hail from the Deep South and I love all things
Latino. Heather is a corn fed Idaho
babe, crunchy on the outside, sweet the inside. Abby, the future Mrs. Daddy Yankee would like me to
introduce her as “ya know, smart, beautiful, and ghetto, like I am”, her words,
not mine. In order for you to get
to know all of us better we have asked everyone the same five questions and I
will post them in a series of two blog posts so as not overwhelm. Some people really disregarded the
1) What are your personal goals for this year?
2) Which programs are you most excited about?
3) Should we get a cat or a dog?
4) What has surprised you most about Ecuador so far?
5) Describe the weirdest cultural and or/language faux pas
you’ve had so far.
1) Conquer my lack of the Spanish language. Not trying to be fluent, but want to be
able to read Don Quixote with no problems! To give a lot of my knowledge in
small business development to the community and help them flourish their
ambition and set higher goals. But
also learn about agriculture and their way of life, study music, fashion and
the indigenous culture and bring this back with me to the U.S, build a music
program with Manna, learn patience, and gain humbleness!
2) I am most excited about Small Business Development…so much for me
to give and so much for me to learn.
3) Definitely a dog!
Cats are evil. :)
4) How generous and patient the people are. They are so patient with my lack of Spanish
and try so hard to understand what I am saying and make the effort to teach me
and correct me. At the same time
want to learn so much from me and rather than being frustrated by my lack of Spanish
turn around ask me how to say it in English. All the dogs on roofs…. how do
they get up there? Their love for their street animals.
5) The saying
"Having cajones" does not exist in Latin America. You will get weird looks.
1) I kind of see this year as a
two way street. I decided to work with Manna out of a desire to help enact
positive and sustainable improvements in the quality of life for those living
in the Valle de Los Chillos in any way that I can. But on the other hand, I
think I'll gain a lot myself. Apart from becoming fluent in Spanish, I want to
narrow my interests in international development and public health and to gain
the first hand experience I think is crucial for pursuing a successful career
in one of these fields.
2) That's a tough question. One
thing that drew me to Manna was the opportunity to work with a little bit of
everything I've studied and am interested in-- agriculture, nutrition,
preventative health, microfinance. I see a lot of room for growth in the
agriculture and microfinance programs, so I'm especially excited to get started
3) Well, the first contact I
made with the group before we all met was to wage a campaign for a dog instead
of a cat. In retrospect, that was a socially questionable move. But I stand by
4) From my experience,
Ecuadorians are much more open than Americans. Family dinners can last 3 hours
with 3 generations. People I have only just met have treated me like family. I
hope to take a bit of that back with me to the United States. And also the food
is delicious. I hope to take a bit of that back as well.
5) I have had a lot of close
calls getting on and off the bus. If I leave this country without sustaining a
serious bus related injury, I will be shocked.
1. I hope to become fluent in Spanish, build great
relationships with the adults and children in the community, and become a
phenomenal salsa dancer.
2. The program I'm most excited about is teaching
English, it's something I've also wanted to do.
3. I want both! We should get a cat for mice, but a dog
because they're cuddly.
4. What surprises me is that it's extremely easy to get
wherever you need to go - I'm loving the bus system here. And cabs are very
5. I don't really understand jeans without pockets and
its popularity here.
outside my comfort zone and be challenged both professionally and personally
-make some serious connections and friendships with
-cook some bomb-ass meals
-travel every opportunity I have
2) I am extremely excited to teach Adult Cooking and
Nutrition. It will be great to meet the adults in the community and to spend
time on Saturday afternoons cooking and
3. Dog, duh. But a cat would be nice to eat all da mice.
4. Perhaps how comfortable I feel already living and
working here. The Ecuadorean culture is so welcoming and warm, and I've already
had so many deep and personal conversations with community members here.
Ecuadoreans don't really believe in personal space. On the bus, I could be
sitting in an aisle chair and literally have a man's nether-regions in
my face as he stands in the aisle. There's lots of space on the bus, sir.
1) My personal goals for this year are to perfect my
Spanish, travel as much as possible, make the biggest possible difference in
the Chillos valley and finally learn how to cook (or at least ignite a stove).
2) I'm probably most excited for PHC (preventative
health) because it has a lot of different programs and room to grow. I'm also
excited for children's nutrition since I get to work with cute kids and get to
know the Ecuadorian educational system
3) The fact that this is even a question....... You've
all seen me stop to pet every street dog here (which is approximately 18 per
corner). Can cats save your life?!?! (Shout out to Izzy and Gracie, miss you)
4) The abundance of good sauce! (ají is amazing), the
man-made barbed wire made of glass bottles that surround almost every house
& building, the abundance of angry bird t shirts and the fact that they
actually say cheveré here (every other word).
5) Well, the most "cultural" thing I can think
of that has happened so far was when some Ecuadorian friends from Rumiloma took
me & heather "sport fishing" in the back of a pick up truck and
served us pig's tail, right after I had contracted a travel bug and was... Less
than healthy. Apparently it's a delicacy, but pigs are my favorite animals…
Five more interviews to come, so put your excitement pants on. For now it's off to the beach!