Carnival time


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South America » Ecuador » East » Misahualli
March 16th 2011
Published: March 16th 2011
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A lot has happened since the last update. For example, just like in Rio, we too have had carnival. Suchipakari Lodge was booked out for the carnival weekend, and we had to help out lots. It was a lot of work, but we don’t mind, cause we met a lot of very nice people, and the Morales family was here again (the owners), who are all super friendly. Unfortunately, my beloved Pedro had to be put down (I was told). Apparently, because he could not fulfil his ‘dog duties’. He had a limp, something was a bit odd with his leg, and he only ate veggie food (had nothing to do with me!;-)) and was sick a lot. I think in a more developed country, you would have taken him to the vet and helped him out, but hey, over here things are different I suppose. I shed a few tears because no one told me, and I just felt really sorry for him. He always walked with us, sat with us, slept outside our door at night. Anyway, today I walk along the main square in Misahualli, and say to Jana: This dog over there looks a bit like Pedro! And..as it turns out..it WAS Pedro!!! Some awesome human being kept him alive. And now he lives here. I´m so happy!!!

The carnival celebrations in contrast were insane! All we were told is wear black. As we drove into town on the back of a pick up, this old granny approaches us, and WOOOM she took a huge bucket of ice cold water and i got it right in the face – soaked down to our underwear. They had a stage, live bands, food, drinks etc down by the river in Misahualli and its tradition, apart from splashing water, to buy a spray can full of coloured foam and spray it all ovger everyone around you. Some people even threw paint bombs. So, loaded with several foam cans, we took revenge. I uploaded some pictures. It was like laser questing, just way more fun – right up my street!! ;-)

The week after we spent here in the Lodge with Santiago, the manager, and son of the owner. He introduced us to the community members and announced that in his absence (most of the time) we will be representing Suchipakari Lodge in the process of the community restaurant.

We were also doing some more teaching in the local school last week and this week. It is not easy. After 2 weeks the kids can just about count to 10 and know all the colours. One could argue that is because the teachers aren’t very good, and...Probably true to a certain extent, we try very hard. We play a lot of games with them, and regularly run out of Oreo cookies as treat. What makes it difficult is the fact that the age in the class ranges from 8-15. So while some kids are getting bored, others are just catching up. Anyway, we will continue, although I think Jana is a lot better at this than me. Patience is a virtue, and clearly I’ve got none! ;-) The kids often walk us home after school. We both got our favourites too: Kevin, Wilson and Alex, although they’re all adorable. Since the road to connect the indigenous Kichwa to the nearest town, was only built a few years ago, they are still incredibly shy and, adults as well as children, hardly make eye contact or speak for themselves. I mean before, they were mainly among themselves and did not have much contact to outsiders, so its understandable.
They seem to find us rather funny. We pull faces when drinking the local brew (really, you have to pull a face when u drink this stuff – imagine wine and yoghurt gone off and mixed together)!
Yesterday we attended a community meeting, which was primarily organized to arrange their community festival on 19th may, on which we’re supposed to help. Since we’re going to Colombia on 19 April, we won’t be able to though, but hopefully we’ll find some volunteers that can translate Spanish to English. We also talked about the restaurant yesterday. We prepared a list with all the positions in it, and handed it round. First, people did not want to put their names down, which was odd since they had agreed to this project in the previous meeting. I think it might have been their shyness coming through, because as soon as the first person wrote their name down, it was like we had opened the flood gates. We filled all positions and for the kitchen assistant (we can only take 2 people), we have about 10 that are keen to do it. This is a great result, because it really proves that the community supports the project. Particularly the guys that wrote their names down as ‘guides’ impressed me. They want to welcome the tourists and show them (in an exhibition room), local weapons, traditions, such as sharmanic healing instruments, and explain about the history of the Kichwa. They were very passionate and all agreed to do an intensive English course with us, to at least know the most frequently used words in English.
We also talked about the design of the place. Jana drew a sample model, but we all agreed to ask Santiago again for a proper model, and then present it on the next meeting this Friday. When we approached Santiago he said he had a model-in his head, but there is no need for him to draw it, cause its quite simply i quote ‘similar to our lodge only 6mx10m’. Erm, great, so we have no real plan or model. Jana and myself therefore need to create one until Friday and present it to the community. That should be fun!?

What makes the meetings difficult is the fact that only a few community members speak Spanish. Most speak only Kichwa. Our Spanish isn’t the best anyway, although I seem to miraculously be able to organise this building process, but when they speak Kichwa its hard! Another Interesting fact is that during all community meetings the women walk in and out to hand Chichwa, this alcoholic Yucca drink to the men. They all drink about 1-2 litres of it. You can imagine the productivity of those meetings. People walk in and out of the room all the time, talk to each other about other stuff, some sleep, kids are screaming/ or breastfed – it takes some getting used to. In contrast myself and Jana sit there dressed appropriately (skirt over knees etc) in 35 degrees heat, with a notepad, pens, a laptop, a Spanish dictionary and I have also always prepared a little speech from us to the locals in advance. Ze Tschermans take sis very seriously, ha ha!

Anyway, I’m quite proud we’re making progress ourselves without the help of Santiago or another translator. Apart from that, we are alone in the Lodge at the moment, which is great because you get to walk around in your bikini all day and do what you want. In the evenings its kind of scary though, as there is literally no neighbour for miles, no phone connection or phone signal – nothing. It makes us feel better if we go to sleep with my pepper spray and a Swiss army knife right next to me.
Max will get to Ecuador next week Thursday which means I’m travelling 6 hours to Quito to pick him up. With the moeny that Malte managed to collect for us as our leaving present (90 pounds btw – THANK YOU!), we will go on a spectacular 65 km bike ride through the Andes (mostly downhill, otherwise NO WAY!) and also go Wild Water Rafting, before returning to the Lodge the week after. I’m very much looking forward to this. Obviously because I finally, after 7 weeks get to see Max again ;-)))), but also because I get away from these bloody mosquitoes here in the Jungle. Although I still can’t compare to Jana, I got 45 in one night..just to give you an example of how bad it is. We tried all sorts of repellents, and gels to stop the itch. Nothing is working well. Arrrgghh!!! Jana even tried a tip of the locals to rub yourself with Termites. No luck!

Anyway, apart from that things are well. This Friday we’re going to Tena, the nearest town, for a night out. I think we both really need some civilization and to go out to dance some salsa somewhere. I cannot wait. So if anyone is on Skype or online on Facebook this Saturday let me know and we can chat.

Big sweaty hugs from the Jungle,

Claudi






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