We´re in Quito, leaving today for Peru. We´ve been here for a few days. There´s a lot to write in this one so I may have to come back to it later...
First off, I finally got sick which was unfortunate. The night we left Búa I got sick at our going away party. I had this crazy fever and cold sweats and aches, as well as a bad stomach and head. Sadly it´s still clearing up, but I felt so much better after the first day that I don´t really care though. So many of us have been struck down by the plague- Alexis especially (of course). She seems to have a parasite, so they gave her medicine and she´s healing finally. Most of the sick people have been from Lower Búa Compound, so they´re wondering if it wasn´t something up there making us sick. Yesterday I stayed home with a few other sick people while the rest went on a hike to prepare for Machu Pichu. Alexis and I lay in bed and watched Knocked Up and Lion King 2 and then slept, and it was the most relaxing thing I´ve done since the start of TBB. Last night John and I watched Wall-e, so it was a very relaxing day.
Back to the actual Ecuador stuff:
Guayaquil. Eight of us went on an independent travel there last weekend. We caught the bus after work on Friday, and stayed at the Dreamkapture Hostel. We were a little worried it would turn out to be a brothel, but the name was just a reference to the many dream catchers placed around the rooms, and it was actually very nice. We had a great weekend, but it was hardly relaxing. We didn´t sleep much at all. Saturday we spent literally the entire day walking around. We hit the boardwalk, museum of modern art and anthropology, the forced-quaint old part of town, and a million places in between. The old town had some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted. They give you tiny little scoops, so we all felt ok about buying from every store we passed. After the museum most of the group went to walk more around the city, but Lily and I split off to try to find new cameras. We were theoretically going to catch a bus to a Canon store we´d passed on the way, but we got very distracted walking down the boardwalk and ended up stopping and trying just about every ice cream store we passed (there were a lot). In the end it took hours, and by the time we caught the bus the camera store was long shut.
For dinner most people went back to the boardwalk to hang out and get something cheap, but John, Alexis, and I went to a sushi restaurant we passed during the day. We spent about a million dollars on a four person platter and it was so, so, worth it. Amazing. Everyone made fun of us afterwards for our splurge, but I would do it again in a second. I´m making myself so hungry just writing about it.
Back home we wrapped up the projects as best we could. I went to Freddy´s three times this week to build the single eco-toilet. We spent the whole time slapping cement around the egg shaped toilet; my hands were a mess! They´ve mostly gone back to normal now, but they were completely peeling from all the cement handling. Now they´re just super tough. We didn´t quite finish the toilet by Friday, but we got it to the point where it just needs the pipes set up to work. The physical toilet is all built. Similar story with the school toilets. We had another small project Thursday and Friday: mucking out a fish pond at ShinoPi. When the first team went on Thursday it was basically a small mud pond with a trickle of water running over the top. By the time we finished on Friday it was clearly a fish pond, though a dirty one. Basically you climb into the pond, up to your thighs in mud, and throw shovel fulls of mud onto the banks. It goes fairly quickly but it is incredibly hard!
Zach´s 19 birthday was this week. We had a little party for him in the morning at work with the group, and a huge one at night in Lower Búa Compound! Our families made a special celebration dinner of delicious fish, and we all ate together. Emily, Alexis, and I bought balloons in Guayaquil, and with the help of our host sibblings we blew up about 25. They all ended up on our bed, with Joselito doing his best to pop or steal all of them. We didn´t really know what to do with them so we put them in a blanket and threw them over Zach at the dinner table. The babies loved them! As did Don Herman, oddly enough. There was one point during dinner where we looked over and saw Don Herman pushed back from the table, bounching a balloon on his lap with the most absorbed expression I´ve ever seen. We had a cake after dinner, and a dance party! Sebastian put on his Tsachila music and we TBBers started dancing, and soon everyone was. Sebastian got the truck and parked it right outside the window so he could blast the music. We all ended up dancing with our host sibblings and parents as well as each other, and the party went on for hours. It was incredibly fun.
As I said, they had a goodbye party for us our last night. It was at the school, and had traditional dancing, the same nice fish they gave us at Zach´s birthday, some speeches, and tons of group photos. It was all brilliant until I got sick in the middle of one of the photos and had to run off.
Something I forgot- early in the week two tiny kittens appeared in the room we use at the school. We couldn´t figure out what they were doing there, but it turns out someone at the school brought them as a present for us. They were tiny balls of fluff, and they would run under our chairs during seminars and sit on the shovels and watch us. I was so sad we couldn´t take them with us!
I also can´t remember if I mentioned the Maripositas yet. If not: one of our dogs, Mariposa, had four puppies! They are tiny black nothings at the moment, unable to open their eyes or hear for at least a month. They are so cute though- you pick them up and they start sucking on your finger and cuddling against you.
In terms of baby animal news, John and Lily´s family also has nine baby chicks. They are called unolito, doselito, treselito, cuatrolito, all the way up to number nine who is not loved and is just nueve. No -lito for him.
I got a new camera! It´s the newest version of the point and shoot that I broke. I´m pretty happy about it. I´ve already got some nice pictures.
When we left, all of our mothers cried. To our infinite suprise, so did Don Herman! It was an interesting morning for Alexis and me. We both felt awful but we still had to pack, so we took loads of drugs to get us through it. Marcia sat with us the whole time and talked about the family, Búa, her life, our lives, and much more. I´m really going to miss our family here. They expect us all back for a visit (and maybe marriage) in four years, when we finish college. We´ll see. It would be great, though. I´ll put up a few photos later if I have the chance. Also, go to the TBB website (thinkingbeyondborders.org) in the next few days, as all of our media projects will be up. We´ve been crazy busy working on them for the past few days. My group was writing the article as well as the introduction blurbs for Costa Rica and Ecuador, and I´m quite happy with how they turned out.