October Showers Bring Courtyard Gardens

It's officially October and you know what that means... MLB playoffs!  As well as some Ecuadorian-specific things, such as the beginning of the rainy season.  Tonight was the first Camioneta ride home in the rain and half of us were really prepared (perhaps too prepared.. cough cough Chet put on rain paints over his jeans) while others braved the pelting wind in tee-shirts.  

But the rain also means exciting things for us, specifically less dust to wipe off of our faces at the end of the day AND the start of our vegetable/herb garden!  While our original plan was to use the expertly-crafted boxes Eliah built for a rooftop garden, their services were heavily demanded for compost containers when it became clear that the nine of us consume a lot of food.  So at least for now, we've decided to focus on revamping the courtyard, which no offense to last year's PDs, is pretty gross.  We have two plots on either side of our walkway, one to be used for our vegetable and herb garden (featuring plantas de tomatoes, onions, mint, basil, and lettuce) and the other to be used for small lime trees and aromatic flora.    

Eliah demonstrating his craftsmanship back in August

A closer look at the box base

I'll be using part of this three day weekend to weed and plant, while the other half will be spent at the Ecuador vs. Colombia (World cup qualifier!) futbol game this Saturday.  If you can, be sure to check it out and look for the five Gringos somewhere in the crowd... that is assuming we can claim our tickets (we've been having some difficulty finding the box office open).  

Time to get back baseball and listen on Shawn's radio to the Yankees beat the Twins... 

Don't you just love October? 
- Jackie

Rainstorms and Dry Pipes

This past weekend was a whirlwind for everyone down here, and we're still recovering. With Dana back in the states (until tonight, hurry home to us!), Mark, Eliah and Seth out on the coast, Priya and Tim in Otavalo and Dunc and I leading summer session 2 to the cloud forests of Mindo, Jocelyn and Serena had the house all to themselves. There was probably a lot of eating, screaming, dancing and youtubing with all the boys away and unable to whine (like old men, maybe?) about all the noise.

Despite the huge rainstorm that hit the valley this afternoon, our house still doesn't have running water (3 days and counting), making daily tasks like laundry, dishes, cooking and showering quite difficult. The summer vols have been wonderful, volunteering to go buy big jugs of water, lugging their laundry to a local laundromat, and keeping the whining to a minimum.

Making soup for tonight's community meal was an ordeal and a half; I have a new found appreciation for frontier women who ran huge houses with no running water (even though I still dream about having a homestead in Montana...), especially when it comes around to dish duty. Running back and forth between the sink and the little pump outside to fill up my bucket with enough dishwater was an exhausting way to spend an afternoon; thankfully I had Mari to help me dry and a glass of wine to relax with :) We make do down here.


(our new dish washing system)

(Stormy June skies)

Beach Escapes

Most of us (Mark and Seth had other plans) spent our extended Easter holiday out on the coast between the two beach towns on Montanita and Puerto Lopez. Between fresh ceviche (citrus, seafood, tomatoes and onions), beach bonfires, barefooted wanderings, hostel hammocks, lazy days in the ocean, and a permanent sheen of sweat and sand, to say the trip was amazing would be understating it.

I would appreciate it, however, if it wasn't RAINING in Conocoto. Oh what a Monday it's turning out to be. I'm about to head in to the community to lend my skills at Children's and Adult English...seeing as how none of us have slept since Saturday night (that's what 12 hour overnight busses will do to you), today's lessons should be interesting :) At least we're not attempting a lesson in Ecuadorian math, or I'd really be in trouble...


Soaked and Loving It

When it rains, it pours. That overused little phrase takes on a special meaning when you live in Ecuador amidst the rainy season. Because let me tell you something: it POURS. Everyday. Torrentially. Enough to knock out all our power on a weekly basis, which wouldn’t be such a problem if my bathroom wasn’t in the dead center of the house, making it absolutely pitch black at the most inopportune moments.

Anyway, I digress. Which, for those of you who have been reading since this blog’s first post, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Thinking about everything that we’ve got going on in the next few weeks, however, brings me right back to that little expression about rain. Not only are have the English and Women’s exercise classes absolutely taken off (five new people in each class this evening!), but our Apoyo Escolar course is also intensifying and growing every day. We’re getting ready to celebrate all the October birthday’s this week at a special Friday fiesta, planning our celebration dinner with all the kids and their families for the first week of November, and figuring out what the reward excursion will be for our students with perfect October attendance.

Add to that Seth’s fantastic new ideas about marketing (water-bottles, stickers, tee-shirts, an MPIE cookbook, and two different calendars) and we’ve all been running from room to room, printer to computer, house to programs, literally all day. Dana also moved in to the house (or apartment I should say) this weekend (FINALLY!!!), Mark’s getting ready to head out to the Galapagos next week, and my family gets in to Quito this Saturday for what will be a fantastic week long fall break. Now, if only we could find the time to clean the house...


(the boy's obsession with Risk continues. 3 games, 2 days. they can't stop)

And They Started Rolling In...

(Today's guest blog comes from Seth Harlan, a second year Manna Ecuador PD and the authority on all things Spanish slang. In my opinion the best cook in the house (who else could pull off Mediterranean chicken in South America?), Seth is up for anything from mountain climbing to discotec dancing, knows more people in the community than anyone else, and has sweet talked his way into the heart of our local venta lady.)

"We woke up to another beautiful morning in Conocoto, the sun rising over the mountains and not as cloud in the sky. It was the first time in weeks that we could see the snowy peak of Cotopaxi from our rooftop. Today was going to be a good day with no need for raincoats or fleece jacket, or so I thought. It's funny that after a year in Ecuador, I still haven't learned that the only rule here is that anything goes and nothing is certain.

As we sat reading with kids in our homemade tent nicked named "la cueva" that Holly built for our apoyo escolar program, the light started to fade. At first I thought it was just the blankets blocking the sun, but like clockwork, 15 minutes before the program ended, the clouds rolled in, thunder cracked, and the rain started. After three straight days of pelting rain in the afternoons it can only mean one thing –no more flip flops, no more short sleeves… the dreaded rainy season has come!"

(la cueva packed with readers)

(Felix, Holly, and Mafe share reading duty)