Published: October 25th 2007October 19th 2007
Back by popular demand
Chaco says hi with his bristly whiskery nose. It tickles when he´s giving me slobbery kisses!
Hello Faithful Blog Readers!!
The love affair with Chaco continues. He gets me out and about and exploring. His sense of fun and adventure keeps my own outlook lively and sharp! Chaco and I have some new friends, Joe and Grady. Joe is an American guy, buying some land about 40 minutes south of where I live. His German short-haired pointer, Grady is very patient with my baby Chaco. Grady is about 7 yrs old, and Chaco keeps on trying to engage him in puppy play! Over Christmas and New Years Joe and I plan to take a driving trip with both dogs, down to the south of Ecuador, toward the Peruvian border. Should be a great adventure for all of us!!
The icy cold Humboldt ocean current up from Antarctica not only brings the Humpback Whales, it brings a chilly drizzly season that lasts approx July thru Sept. Puerto Lopez (my "downtown" about 15 min north) turns into one big mud puddle! The streets don´t have proper drainage and the silty earth shifts down from the hills that rise right up from the town. All the local dogs have filthy paws, "mud" boots, I call
Joe with Chaco & Grady
Chaco and I have new friends! Joe and his dog Grady live about 40 minutes south of me. We´ve had some fun adventures together and hope to have some more!
them. The cats are tiptoeing trying to avoid the many puddles. The kids all have their brightly colored rubber boots on and are out there splashing around and having a ball. Life goes on and most of the people walking along the road in the constant drizzle do so with a huge smile on their faces...let a smile be your umbrella! The old farmers have their machetes wrapped in plastic bags so they won´t rust, and school kids do their best to keep their uniforms clean jumping aside to avoid being splashed by passing vehicles!
My truck is constantly filthy and climbing in and out I inevitably brush the door jamb with my calf, leaving a swath of gooey mud on whatever I´m wearing! One day I had on a skirt and a friend was horrified by the prominent smudge on my bare leg, thinking I had burned or cut myself!
The past month my house has felt damp and chill most of the time. Nothing really completely dries, but I´ve been especially grateful for my fireplace. I love to fall asleep to the dancing firelight, the flames leaping and making patterns through my
Puerto Lopez is one big mud puddle!
After 2 weeks of constant rain and drizzle, Puerto Lopez became Puerto Lodo (lodo means MUD!) It was a slippery, slimy mess -- but the local kids found ways to have fun!
mosquito net. Each night at bedtime I esconce myself in my sleeping canopy. Once I´m in, I´m in. I have everything I need -- a small basket with earplugs, eyeshades, anti-itch cream, etc, a reading lamp, a little fan, my book and reading glasses. As I read, bugs and moths flutter around the outside of the net, drawn to the light. It´s a safe and cozy feeling, especially when the fireplace is lit. Sometimes I keep a fire smoldering all night to try to get my clothes fully dried out. If I keep the closets open the damp seeps in, if I keep them closed a moldy, musty smell pervades, so I spread them over chairs beside the fire and they smell of woodsmoke (much better!). My iguana gardeners break off the dead branches for me, and their sap sizzles and hisses as they burn.
I´ve finished teaching another 8 week series of classes. I began the session with 9 different classes (individual and small group), but (as friends had warned me), folks here have a hard time making and carrying out a commitment. By the end of the 2 months I only had 6 classes still
Fireplace in Action
After weeks of damp, all my clothes felt clammy. I kept the fireplace lit all night and that took some of the wet chill off. Lovely to view the flickery flames dance thru my mosquito net.
meeting, but that was fine. I really enjoyed all the different learners -- ages, language levels, interests. It´s fascinating and challenging to teach "in the moment" -- having some materials prepared but really making it up as I go along. I continue to learn a lot about the many quirks of the English language and try to tune into where most of the difficulties lie for Spanish speakers, especially as regards pronounciation and structure.
I continue to feel certain that buying the pick-up truck was one of the best decisions I made. It opens so many opportunities for me and allows me to help others in a lot of situations. I helped my friend Marianne move from a dark, airless cement block apartment up the hill to a bright and beautiful place with wood floors and ceilings. The house below her new apt has a jacuzzi which we were permitted to enjoy...a great treat after all the lifting, carrying and schlepping. We sunk into the bubbling hot water just as the sun was setting over Puerto Lopez.
I drove a group of farmers out to Cantalapiedra farm, where much of the produce served at
English class at Alandaluz
Rene, Galo & Ketty were my loyal Alandaluz students. We met twice a week for 1 1/2 hr each class; they learned quite a lot!
the Alandaluz restaurant is grown. Tamara (Chaco´s co-madre and a volunteer working with the University of Colorado anthropology dept) has started up an organic garden in El Carmen, a community of 9 families. My pick-up was loaded to the hilt with more than 15 participants of her garden project. We explored a beautiful backroad that cut behind the coastal mountain range. We invited them to lunch there, and it was great to see these indigenous local farmers, awed and inspired by the lush, mature orchards at Cantalapiedra.
On October 12th, Día de la Raza (day of indigenous races) the rain had stopped, but the mud remained. The students from my little school had been rehearsing to participate in the 12 de Octubre festivities. Because of a bus strike further south down the coast, transportation was especially difficult so I ended up shuttling (about 20 minutes each way) between Ayampe (where the school is) and Salango (where the parade and dancing were to be held). A favorite image of mine is of the daddies carefully lifting the little girls in their full-skirted long dresses into the cabin of the truck, trying to keep them from getting muddy. The
My lively tennaged students!
Carina and Andres (Brazilian Mom, Ecuadorian Dad) both know a fair bit of English. We had a lot of fun improving their grammar and confidence levels.
parents rode in the back and upon arrival Dads were on hand carry their daughters to mudless safety. We assigned older students to make certain the little boys, all dressed in white, stayed as clean as possible! I ended up driving at least 100 people back and forth that day, sometimes with as many as 30 people in the truck bed!! Needless to say, my truck was a muddy mess, inside and out!! It continues to serve me well.
Enjoy the photos of the 12 de octubre fiestas! The local communities gather to celebrate the 4000 year old Manteño culture which is said to have its seat in Salango. They launched a balsa raft out to the nearby island. Students studying Gastronomy at the technical High School nearby prepared traditional dishes to sell at the food stalls (see the photo of one of my English students washing dishes!) The students from Ayampe who presented Coplas (bawdy, suggestive dialogues) did such a great job, they were later asked to present them on TV!
I set off up the coast, taking the scenic route and visiting various friends en route to the mountains to work with
These guys really can wash dishes!
Paolo (on the left) was one of my English students. I warned him I was going to show this photo to his future wife!!
the next group of volunteer engineers. Of course I spent a few days at Playa Escondida. That place continues to entrance me! I am now completing this blog in Quito (ah, back to broadband internet!!) and will meet the third group of Engineers Without Borders in a few days. As with the previous two groups, I will accompany them to the village of Malingua Pamba where their work on a water system continues. I will stay in the highlands through November to teach a special English course for a friend who works at the United Nations in the Sustainable Tourism program and then to attend an annual American Expat gathering for Thanksgiving.
By the time I get back to the coast, over 6 weeks will have passed and I´m sure that Chaco will look enormous to me!Tamara and I have found a good rhythm of sharing in the care of our pup. She will be in the states Dec-Jan so I´m looking forward to spending more time with Chaco when we travel with Joe & Grady. Over the past several months he´s only spent a few weekends and one full week with me. When Tamara´s year of
Playa Escondida Beach Cave
This magical stretch of beach keeps drawing me back. After a hot, sweaty walk along the beach this tunnel has cool breezes and crystal clear shady pools.
volunteer work is over, if she moves to the big city, Chaco may stay with me more permanently. We´ll see if the sale of my property is underway by then. Who knows what the future will hold. I´m ok with waiting to see how it all unfolds!
If you have read this (or even just looked at the photos!) drop me a note (email@example.com) and let me know. I would love to hear from you and promise to respond!! All the best from the middle of the world....Jill
There are more photos below