Back to Ecuador, new years eve and volunteering
Trip Start Sep 26, 2007
18Trip End Ongoing
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Backtrack Mike the lads were calling me. So I arrived in Cuenca eventually, on the 30th of Jan, and the whole town was preparing for new years eve party. But New Years party in Cuenca was a little different, in that everyone was encouraged to buy and wear a mask of some description, and fireworks if you wanted.
Needless to say, being a naive young west waterford buchaill, who never fired a firework before, I bought all around me. So myself and the 2 German lass's partied it up good-o for new years. During the day, there were these processions, like St. Patrick's day at home, with all these weird floats, I don't know where they all came from for a village so small, but we were loving the show.
One of the events they had on was, a big 20 foot pole, with all goodies tied to the top, and it was up to the young kids to try and climb the pole to grab some goodies from the top. It was very funny, because the parents of the kids were trying to push them up the pole with the end of a brush, to encourage them on. Most didn't get anything though the craters, they just ended up with sore bums from parents pushing them up with the end flat end of a brush!
At night, the locals had stages set up with local effigies of politicians, scenes from history, with large caricature models of famous people, villains, soccer plays, like 15 foot tall models of these people, and then come 12 midnight, they took a match to all of them and burnt the lot! So at about 12:05, the streets were a burning mess of litter, caricatures, masks, cloths, stages, fireworks, and other assorted things, with people dancing around them. Kinda strange, but a good and random new years eve party all the same!
So I hung around in Cuneca for a few days afterwards, and was due to start volunteering in the school in Quito the following Monday morning. So I made my way back to Quito, and met up with the 2 German lass's, Julia and Nina, and they brought me out to the school, about 45 minutes commute from the city center.
In the morning, I was brought before the director and given a chat, so that they could decide what to do with me. Now, I'd never worked with kids before much, so teaching English in the classes wasn't really an option with my level of Spanish being so bad. So they asked me
"Do you know anything about Tomatoes?" to my surprise, and I replied
"Tomatoes! Sure didn't Ruth Logue given me half a dozen plants there last summer, and sure didn't I go and sort out my uncle Dodo's green house for him the summer before last, and didn't John Lyons take me through how to look after them, and he practically introduced them to Macroom!!"
But unfortunately, the director didn't know Ruth Logue, Dodo Cliffe, John Lyons or Macroom for that matter, or didn't speak a word of English, so I just said "Si"! So off to the green house with me, with a few of the worse for wear cloths and started working to sort out the Green house, which was a complete mess of neglect. The School keeps a massive 20mx60m green house for tomatoes, a big one, to produce tomatoes to see 3 harvests a year to help fund the school, tomatoes being one of the more lucrative vegetable to grow and sell in Ecuador. In the afternoons, I took took the kids for soccer games in the pitch in the school, which was good ould crack. The school, having 140 kids attending, was also an orphanage for 19 kids, aging from 6 to 17, full time kids who lived at the school, and it was for them that we were mainly helping, helping to make lunch and dinner for them (breakfast was at about 5am so we let them work away on their own with that one!) giving good example, helping them with homework, and generally being good role models (laugh all ye want, I'm a great role model!), and to be honest, it was tough leaving them after the 2 weeks.
To help as a fund raiser, we had a raffle to one day, and I was in charge of organizing a bingo contest, which was a good ould laugh.
during the weekend we had at the school, myself Nina and Julia, went for a trip to Quilnatoa in Ecuador, which is a dormant volcano, with a big lake in the middle. Beautiful, even the drive up the mountain was spectacular. We even got to see the volcano in Banos erupting in the distance, some 3 hundred miles off in the distance! Check out the photos.
At the end of the 2 weeks, on our last night, the kids put on a night of entertainment for us, and presented us with little tokens of appreciation, handmade little doll type things, its was all very touching.
They even tried to portray a bit of Ecuador social problems through performances, which was great really, all well organized. So we said our goodbyes and left the school with a heavy heart, and off I went back to Columbia to meet up with Feeley somewhere along the way. Meanwhile, Ed is in Panama at this stage I think, so I was expecting to meet up with him in about a month or so. All in all, I think this volunteering was one of the highlights of my trip, and something I'd love to do more of eventually.