Yesterday and Thursday, myself and Steph (Asst Field Director) went to Ibarra to do a site visit with one of our volunteers. We left Quito around 10am and expected to arrive there at noon. However, there was a protest by the indigenous people along the way and we couldn’t go anywhere. Our taxi driver decided to take an alternative route and what should have been a 2-hour ride took 4 hours. We arrived in Ibarra starving but had no time for lunch since we had to go and meet the director of the school we work with in Ibarra. The school is called Cecami and is absolutely beautiful.
We met the director, who was lovely; she took us up to the cerro, an observation point about the city where sits a statue of the archangel who protects the city. The ride was a bit scary as we were going up and up this cliff with no protection on the side of the road. One slight misstep in driving and you’re tumbling down. On the way down, which seemed even scarier, there was one point where her cell phone started ringing and I was chanting in my head, please don’t answer, please don’t answer. As you can guess, she answered. It was pretty freaky but asi es la vida en Ecuador. Here are a few photos of the city from that viewing point:
She then drove us into the city and dropped us off to find some lunch. It was now 3pm and everything was closed. We found this place called Deli Kfe and ordered some sandwiches and drinks. Oh my God! That’s probably the worst sandwich I’ve ever had. The baguette itself was ok but there were two layers each with tons of meats and cheese – again, that might have been ok. But there was soooo much mayonnaise. You would pick up the sandwich to eat it and your hand and face would be covered in mayo. You wipe off, take another bite and the same again. Despite our hunger, neither Steph nor I could do much more than have a few bites of the sandwich.
We had to head though as we had to observe the volunteer’s class at 4pm. One nice thing about Ibarra is that no matter where you go, the taxi only costs $1. We observed the volunteer’s teaching from 4-6pm, then went to our hostel and soon had to go back to meet the volunteer for dinner at 8pm. Another of the volunteers joined us for a mediocre Mexican dinner. I was not loving the food in Ibarra. The worst was yet to come though. Since we work for a volunteer organization, we try to stay in cheaper places. But this place sucked. It was really musty and the bed was hard as rock. I barely slept all night. Also, Steph is a sleep talker. At first I thought she was talking to me so I responded only to realize that nope, she’s just talking in her sleep. That at least provided some entertainment during the sleepless night. The next day my allergies went crazy from the musty, moldy room.
There was a highlight though. Ibarra is famous for it’s ice cream and so we went to Helados de Rosalia, the place for ice cream in Ibarra and it was really good. It’s more like gelato than ice cream. I had frutilla (strawberry) and guanabana (can’t think how to translate that) and Steph had mora (blackberry) and coco (coconut). Each cone came to the huge price of $0.70.
We had to meet our volunteer’s host family and see how things were going. We felt a bit bad for the host mother because her daughter is about to graduate from Berkeley and she applied for a visa to go and see her daughter’s graduation but was denied. That really sucked for her. It’s strange how these immigration people make their decisions. The woman’s house was lovely and she was settled in Ecuador and Berkeley is a really good school so you’d think there’d be no issue getting a visa but…
After chatting with the host mother, we sat with the volunteer and talked about her teacher, providing suggestions on how to improve the class. After that we had to interview two potential host families that we may use during the summer or for the year long volunteers that arrive in August.
The first family we met was lovely; however, they expected the volunteer to share a room with the mother. That’s not acceptable, especially for a year long volunteer. We expect the volunteer to have a separate room. The second family was amazing. They were really nice and funny and had a lovely space for the volunteer. So we’ll prob end up using them for the summer and potentially for the year.
After that, Steph and I were ridiculously tired. We hopped in a taxi to the bus station where we caught a bus to Quito. Of course, bus rides are never nice and easy. Along the way, we picked up anyone along the road that wanted to get to Quito and dropped people off wherever they wanted. The movie was actually nice, they put on “Up” but then put on the radio speakers really loudly. I actually asked that they turn off the music cause one or the other. I’m ballsy that way. Why suffer silently, I say.
Upon arriving in Quito, I jumped in a taxi to my home, had some tea with my host mom and immediately went to sleep.