My arrival at the volunteer project

Trip Start Apr 21, 2013
Trip End Jun 30, 2013

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Sunday, June 2, 2013

Well the bus journey to Archidona went easily and quickly, mainly with me napping mouth wide open, trying not to lean too much on to the little Ecuadorian guy by my side. The only problem was that there was a marathon underway in Quito and we had to get a taxi to the bus station, which took over an hour with all of the diversions.  My lovely friend, Antje, who I met at the Spanish school and her lovely friend, Lisa, decided to go to some hot springs, which conveniently were on the same bus route as I was going.  So I had company for the taxi ride and then the first half of my bus journey, which was great!  As we were driving through Archidona I decided to ignore all of my directions and get off here, rather than waiting until the last town and then getting a taxi back again.  The air was hot and humid, as I got off the bus 2000m lower than when I had gotten on.  We had been driving through rain-forest for hours, and the landscape had been filled with closely packed trees.  Surprisingly for Ecuador there hadn't been a banana in sight.

I walked around my new town of Archidona, and was pleased to see that there were a few facilities, a couple of shops, pharmacists, restaurants and even better, internet cafes.  Nothing fancy and clearly nothing marketed towards a tourist, no fancy WI-FI spots and nowhere advertising cappuccinos or anything familiar like that.  They did have a small town plaza though, which was dominated by a church that had a strange red and white striped pattern painted on it.  I sat and watched small local kids playing football for a while, as I knew that I was earlier than the arranged meeting time. 

As I still had a nagging doubt that I should have followed the directions more closely, I decided to try the last step.  So, when I couldn't wait any longer I asked a local taxi driver to take me to Amupakin, which is the name of the birthing center that I will be volunteering in for the next month. Naturally the taxi driver looked quite surprised, but he finally nodded that he knew where it was at least.  That was a relief as I had been warned that they may not know and I may have to go into a series of explanations about the center, probably including some charades to try to jog their memories. 

So at 4.30pm I pulled up to the small center, at the side of the town.  It is probably about 2km away from town and an easy walk, but I would never have found it by myself on the first occasion.  We pulled up to a collection of buildings, that all looked fairly ramshackled and as though they could do with a good lick of paint.  The "president of Amupakin", Adela, was soon there to greet me, or at least sternly tell me I was earlier than we had arranged.  Now don't have a visual image of a president in a power suit, and the quick, meaningful stride of purpose in her step.  Nope, Adela was wearing a t-shirt (no bra), shorts and flip flops and reminded me of when you were younger and your friend's mum was trying to be friendly but didn't really know what to say to you.  I was quickly shown to a small building by the side of the parking area for the center, and told that this would be my room.  It had a bathroom, and a kitchen area, that had no utensils, so I was relieved when she said that they would be providing me with my food.  It wasn't quite what I thought we had arranged, because I was under the impression that I would be living with a family and not shuffled away into a separate holiday-style apartment, but we shall see how it goes and I am happy to make the best of this situation.  As it was so humid, and sweat was clearly flowing from my forehead, she suggested that I take a shower and then maybe a nap before dinner.  Then I found myself alone in my little apartment, and left to wonder precisely how I had found myself here, on the edge of the tiny little town in the middle of nowhere

After resting up for a while, I heard Adela shouting my name to come for dinner.  She lead me around the back of the center, where there was a wooden shed and a small fire going in the middle.  There are walls on most of the sides, but also a large open area that leads into the surrounding garden area, where they have numerous types of trees and plants and it is also where their chickens scratch about looking for scraps.  This was clearly the kitchen area, and also probably the social setting for the center.  Then the moment that I had been dreading arrived, they presented me with their best dinner set, and brought me over a home cooked soup, followed by some rice and a chicken leg.  I inquired if they would join me for dinner and they all nodded something about having already eaten or they would eat later.  Kory and I have come across this before and we never know if it is because they don't have the money to eat meat alongside you, or if they would rather eat separately, but either way it leaves you being the only one eating, and everyone else sitting there watching.  I tried my best to hold down a conversation but they only spoke in Kichwa (the local tribal language) to each other and Adela said she didn't speak that much Spanish (I have since found out that she does).  This is going to get interesting I think!!  Following my dinner I was quickly escorted back to my room, as it had started to rain heavily and Adela thought it was going to get a lot worse.  So I sat in my room for the rest of the night, watching programs on my laptop and hearing thunder and lightening fill the stormy sky.
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Gramma on

Gemma, I'm amazed at how quickly you can convert yourself to any situation, which at times takes alot of courage, and wisdom. Take care, Love and hugs

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