This morning I was able to have a late start again. I woke up around 8:30AM for breakfast with my family. We had toast with jelly and bananas. I asked about the cheese and my house mother said it was called, “Queso Fresco” or fresh cheese. It is just their version of fresh cheese here! I will need to find it in the states somewhere!
After breakfast I headed to school because at 10AM I had my orientation to see where I would be volunteering. I will be working at a center called, “Fundacion Abuelitos de La Calle”. This center was founded in 2001 and is a day center for senior citizens. Their main goals include helping senior citizens maintain a healthy, active lifestyle as well as providing a place for companionship and continued self-growth. Due to the economic situation in Ecuador, there are many seniors that are very poor and have no place to be or eat. This foundation has anywhere from 80-115 seniors each day that they serve. The seniors come from far wide to the center and are offered breakfast, lunch and many activities (Here is the website if you would like to make a donation or learn more about the foundation-Copy and paste into Google translate if you aren’t familiar with Spanish!-http://www.abuelitosdelacalle.org).
One of the staff members from the school took me to the foundation. When we arrived I was given a tour of the facility and given the details of my duties. I will be mainly helping with all planned activities such as exercise classes, dancing, theater, chorus, painting and BINGO! I am very excited. I was even able to meet some of the seniors and they were beyond sweet. It is going to be such a joy spending the next three weeks there and I look forward to the bonds I will form and the difference I will make in the lives of the seniors. They are in grave need of volunteers and support. For instance, they have an entire room for physical therapy, but the foundation is unable to find a physical therapist willing to donate time to help the seniors in pain or having problems with their bodies. I am very fortunate that I have the opportunity to donate my time and energy to a much deserving program.
After my orientation, I went back to the school and had about two hours to kill. I ate my lunch in the student lounge. Today my mother made me a fried egg sandwich and a banana for lunch! It was very good (Muy bien!). After that, I decided to catch up on some work on the computers in the lounge. I did some work and made a few new friends in the lounge. I met one guy from France. He speaks very little English or Spanish so we had a fun time trying to communicate like charades. I also met another student from the USA! Both were very cool, and I am very excited to be making friends here quickly.
I then went to class with my professor, German, again. We talked about Ecuadorian culture and politics today. I learned so much and it was really intriguing. I can officially say I am very interested in Ecuadorian politics and affairs. It would be too much to share my entire two-hour lesson on this blog, but I did write down one fun fact that I wanted to bring back to share with you all! Okay, so, during the week of elections in Ecuador (elections in Ecuador are mandatory for all persons or you are fined heavily), there is a law enforced called, “La Ley Seca” (The Dry Law). I bet you can guess what that means! It means for three days before the election and for two days after, nobody in the entire country is allowed to drink alcohol. It is so heavily enforced that if you’re caught drinking or drunk, you are sent to jail for 8 days. And, even worse, if they find out which business served you the alcohol, the business is immediately shut down and not allowed to operate any longer. They enforce this law so that people do not make any rash decisions or disturb any part of the voting process. How unique! Qué Chévere! (How cool!)…
For the last two hours of class, German took me to the Artisan Market. It is called, “La Mariscal” (The Marshal). It was very similar to the market I saw yesterday, except instead of food, there were items made by Ecuadorian artisans. On our walk home, I also was able to try a new Ecuadorian dish called Cevichocho! It is a combination of types of corn, onions, lime, and tomato.
After class, my some of my German friends and I decided to go to the market to get dinner. Unfortunately, we walked too slowly and the market was closed by the time we arrived. The girls instead decided to go to the supermarket to buy food to cook and I decided to go home and eat dinner with my host family (my host mom makes really awesome food).
I am currently waiting for dinner now! They eat very late here. I am very hungry too! We ended up having a traditional Ecuadorian meal called Seco de Chivo. It was a delicious meal with lamb, potatoes and rice! Another strange thing here that I forgot to mention was that during every meal we watch tv. It's really different! Later tonight, we will probably go into the city and try some of the disco techos (dance clubs)! Maybe I will try to show off some of my newly learned salsa moves! (Side note: We did go to a dance club and it was very fun! A very awesome part of the city here are all the cool places to dance or karaoke. We had a great time!)
Today has been another day full of adventure. I am learning my way around the city and it’s really exciting to become more in sync with the culture. Enjoy your days and please continue to keep the people of Ecuador, especially those at Fundacion Abuelitos de La Calle, in your prayers. Hope you enjoyed!