I´m in Santa Domingo, the city near Bua. We came in for the day to shop and internet and whatnot.
Let´s get the bad stuff out of the way first: I got off the bus from Quito in Santa Domingo a few days ago, only to see that my bag had been slashed and my nice camera stolen. I´d been sitting on the bus with Sean, my feet on my bag the whole way, with the zippers under my feet. A few women with babies were sitting behind me, but at the beginning two guys had been there and gotten off. Sean´s bag was opened but nothing taken (because his camera was stolen in Costa Rica, so he had nothing valuable). They took my really nice Canon and my extra telephoto lens. They did not get my credit card or small camera. The thing is, the day before that I had used a memory card uploader to put some pictures online, and I realized yesterday that I put the cards back in the wrong cameras. So the small memory card from the point and shoot got stolen, but I still have my 8 gig card with Costa Rica pictures. Which is great, except that it doesn´t work in the small camera. So I couldn´t take any pictures! Fortunately John has a similar camera, and four memory cards. He gave me a two gig one, so I can still take photos. I have a few I´m trying to upload now. Robin and I filed a police report a few days ago, for insurance- the police here send you out of the station and make you pay to copy the reports four times!
Other than that seriously bad bit of news, everything is wonderful. My host family is really nice and interesting. The father, Jose, has been teaching us Tsafiki (the language here), and the mother, Marcia, teaches us to cook and wash our clothes in the river (which is also where we bathe). This morning she made Alexis and me bags out of traditional Tsachila cloth, which is covered in colorful stripes. We have an eight year old host sister called Lisbeth who is so sweet, and a one year six months old host brother called Jose (or Josito) who is so cute. We have like five dogs, two of which are three month old puppies, Fifi and Chito.
We catch the bus every morning to be at the school by eight. Then we spend the day digging, measuring, digging, eating, digging, and digging. We´ve dug absurdly long trenches all around the field for the ecological toilets. When we´re done working for the day we do our seminar (around 2:30). We are so tired and sore! It´s actually really fun though, when we´re all there digging together. As well as learning about the water issues, a huge part of this is learning about how a project works in a developing country. It´s very confusing. We´re working with Yana Puma and engineers without borders, as well as commmunity engineers. Everyone is confused. The American engineers insist on American standards, but the thing is that they don´t work in the community very well. Like they were telling us how they won the battle to have the larger size of supports they wanted, but yesterday we realized that the reason those don´t work is that the cinder blocks here are designed for the smaller ones, so we have to chisel them out in order to use the bigger. There´s a lot of miscommunication. We´re learning pretty quickly, just by watching, what not to do when running a project. There´s good stuff too; the school was the driving force behing the new toilets, they were offered few projects to choose from. The school went from fifty students to two fifty in one generation, so the septic tanks are awful. Ecotoilets are really useful, and obviously good for the environment.
Tomorrow our host father is going to paint his body with the black lines, so Alexis and I can see the traditional Tsachila outfits. Our host sister wore hers yesterday for a while.
We live very far from the school, in a small cluster with three other families that are all related. There are six other TBBers with us, the other eight are living in families right next to the school.
It´s so interesting here, learning how our family lives and what they eat. I have had so many bananas since we got here. They have really good soup. There are so many bugs! I got some cortisone today while we were at the mall for lunch. I think it´ll help a lot. Last night there was the biggest storm I´ve ever heard; Alexis and I woke up at five because it sounded like the roof was going to break. It continued to rain that heavily for about three hours!
In conclusion, I really love it here, although I may be more tired than I´ve ever been in my life.
Heré´s the photo link again, I added a few from Ecuador to the album. I hope it works!