ok, so since i last posted i´ve done a few things. not many things, but a few. i probably should have posted sooner, if only because my dad enjoys reading this stuff. (hey dad!). on the note of relatives, my dear aunt reads this stuff too, at least occasionally, so i have to stop cursing. i found that tidbit out on my 10 day leave to the states. in certain circumstances, PC will let volunteers take unpaid leave. i had those circumstances, so i did. i´m glad i did, but in general i´d say it isn´t a good idea to go home so early in service. you get back and you start missing stuff again. but anyway, i got back, and i taught english in a community for a week, and then i got strep throat, but since it had been exactly 7 days since i was in an airport, and i had body aches and a sore throat and whatnot, i was scared i had the pig flu. so i called the PC doctors a lot until they told me to come to quito, so i did. and they told me i had strep throat, but i was already pretty much over it. so i stayed another night just to hang out and i ate a 15$ steak at a restaurant called the Magic Bean. it had vegan food, i´ll take my pops there if we stay a night in Quito (hey dad!). i also met a girl who was ending her service. she was from the omnibus (training group) after me, so she had really just gotten out of training. she was quiting because she had been expecting an international health experience, and then she got to a little community in the middle of the mountains. so if you are expecting an international health experience, don´t sign up for peace corps.
then a week later i got called to go get a flu vaccine, and they haven´t offered to reimburse my travel expenses. and a week after that was the reconnect conference, in which we report on the surveys we´ve been doing and we get trained on ¨project design and management¨which i found pretty helpful. we are supposed to invite out counterparts, at first i had 3, the evangelical president of the parish (parish is the political unit one step above community, i think i´ve refered to it as district before, but now i know the right translation), known as the Pastor by his committee, at least behind his back, also the 2 agronomists from the Project i work with. but before it was go time, they all three backed out. the Pastor invited in his place the ex-president of the parish, who is also from my community, who is a good guy despite the fact that he hit my beloved dog Jack with a machete while i was on leave in the states. apparently jack was about to eat their much smaller family dog, and each protects his own, as my compañeros explained the situation. but then he backed out too. so i invited my host brother but at this point it was only several hours before we needed to be at the conference, which was more than several hours away.
so he asked a friend to drive the truck home from the market (where we had been selling another friend´s tree tomatoes at a price below the cost of production). the friend didn´t make it all the way back. the truck broke down. so they sold it. and then the asked me for a loan to buy another. first of all, i explained, i don´t have enough money to my name to cover the difference between what you sold the old truck for ($5k) and what you need to buy another (at least $10k). second of all, if i did, how would you pay me back in two years?
they wouldn´t. thats why peace corps suggests not making loans. anyway, reconnect went well. and afterwards, i visited a university in the area of Riobamba (which was where the 5 day conference was held for volunteers stationed in the sierra), and filmed an interview with a micobio Doctor who grows trichoderma, a fungus which lives in soil, fixes nitrogen, and combats other fungi which cause blights. i bought a kilo of the stuff, and i´m distributing it among farmers in my parish who are interested in testing it out.
the day after that, i visited an organic farm, also in the area of reconnect, and filmed interviews and demonstrations with the farmer showing how to grow tree tomato (the most common cash crop in my parish) organically. i´m currently preparing that footage to be made into a short film to show to my peeps. i don´t think anyone is likely to convert to organic, but if they can save some money on chemicals, then everybody wins. except the chemical companies. but they´ll hardly notice.
so i got back from there and shortly thereafter went to quito to take the LSAT (just got the score, couldn´t have done better!) and then spend the rest of my accrued vacation days in cuenca, visiting my old host family from my exchange student days. haven´t seen em in over 7 years, but they haven´t changed much. very very welcoming. pretty much spent a week an a half on the couch watching HBO. i looked in to some loans for the trout ponds in my parish, but mostly it was HBO.
so i got back from that and i decided i should do some work. so even before i got to my site, i was contacting the catholic church, which owns the majority share of the trout ponds, about selling them, and also my man who works with the ministry of the environment about getting me some trees to plant (did i mention i have about 20 farmers signed up to plant about 2000 native trees? its more complicated than that, but its a good start). he said he´d look in to getting my 1000, and he invited me on a trip to train some of the farmers in my area. cool. so i´m doing that tuesday.
i spent last week walking down the mountain and back up every day to work with the project, or if they seemed unproductive, the parish. that walk really wears one out. sometimes in the rain. sometimes in the dark. i got a little bit done.
friday was the beginning of the anniversarial festivities of a neighboring parish, so i was invited to go join the parade. afterwards, i got pulled out to dance and placed in front of a lady who turned out to be a consejal, councilperson, in the municipality, which owns most of the other shares of the trout pond. i had recently been told by the president of the womens´group (the one which has their bidness very well organized and wants to buy and put back in operation the run down trout ponds in their community) well, she told me that the new mayor of the municipality doesn´t want to sell the trout ponds, but would be happy if the women bought the church´s shares and took out a loan to renovate them. but the president says uh-uh, cause once they are in debt and the ponds are productive again, the municipality is gonna screw them. she opened her mouth and drew a finger across it, i´m not sure if it was to represent a fish hook, or food being stolen just as one was about to eat it, or something else, but it was expressive, and i think i´ll try it sometime.
but anyway, the consejala i danced with didn´t mind talking business with me (i asked first) and she said that it wasn´t just up to the mayor (he had said it was), that she and the other councilpeople would have to vote on it, and that she would start asking em what they think. so score one for me and my great dance moves.
so that was friday. saturday i declined to return to the festivities, opting instead to read, do a little exercise, clean my room, and watch some macguyver episodes (bought seasons one and two in cuenca!). macguyver rocks. my family doesn´t believe his smooth moves would work, but i know they would.
sunday, today, i came to town to work in a nursery they got here. they got it, but they ain´t got no one working in it. the project that started it has ended, and they are considering giving it to my parish, but the parish has to put up some sort of investment in return. they want to throw in a nurseryperson to work it, but they can´t fit it in the budget till the new year. thats where i come in. plus, there is a school nearby and i´m working on inviting students so i can teach em about nursery stuff. plus there are a bunch of native trees for me to weed, water, tend, and then give to my farmers who have signed up to plant trees. its a good deal. so i worked from mid afternoon, when i got the keys, till a little after dark. we´ll see what time i wake up tomorrow, but i forsee getting things done.
there are other things i could type about, but i think the internet cafe is gonna close soon. maybe i´ll blog some more this week. but maybe not. don´t hold your breath or anything.