Category Archives: Uncategorized
Ravelry recently introduced a new feature for its shopkeepers, now we can have sales and promotions. October also happens to be the Malabrigo Stockpile event on the Malabrigo Junkie’s forum. This event gets us Junkies thinking of the holidays and start knitting our presents. In order to celebrate these two event’s I’ve placed all my for sale patterns on sale. Get 15% off by using the coupon code: stockpile when checking out. Sale lasts until 11:59pm EST Oct 31, 2010.
It´s been a a busy few days getting things planned for the World Teach summer program. Today, the Asst Field Director and I were jamming to my ipod while working. I have a playlist called ´Workout´. Anyhow, ´Waiting for a star to fall´by Boy Meets Girl came on. I tend to listen to cheesy music when I run. I just like happy music that makes me forget about running. Anyhow, we´ve been listening to it over and over again and I thought I would share:
Beware – photo heavy!
I had a very busy weekend. At first I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing as I haven’t made any friends yet in Quito. On Saturday morning my host mom, Sandra, suggested that we go on an excursion to Tumbaco to visit some relatives with her sister, Sylvia, and her sister’s husband, Nelson, and young Pamela. Having no plans I was happy to have something to do.
I did have some plans to work on my knitting – I have a couple of designs that I’ve worked out in my head and mathematically on paper but I just haven’t had the time to knit.
So around early afternoon on Saturday, we jumped into Nelson’s pick up and headed to Tumbaco. Here’s a lovely view of the drive there.
Tumbaco is only about half an hour away from Quito. More of a suburb than anything. Sandra’s aunt Anita lives there as well as her grandfather and a few of her uncles. They all have houses next to each other. Once we arrived, the women went about cooking and myself, Pamela and Nelson went to the back of the house where Anita’s son, Santiago (Santi) was practicing with his band. He’s the one with the long curly hair. One guess as to what kind of music they play… 🙂
After listening to the band for a bit, Nelson gave me a tour of Sandra’s father’s holiday home that’s in the same compound as the other homes. It’s this lovely yellow house. Here are some pics of the inside of the house.
Food was soon ready. We were having fritada (fried pork) which I’d never had before. With that we had mote (boiled corn), potatoes with a cheese sauce, an onion salad and maduros (fried plantains). The lunch was delish.
Then us womenfolk headed to an outlet store of knit sweaters. I got a lovely white cardigan for only $11. After that we headed back to the compound where Miche (Sandra’s great aunt) made us Pan de yuca (bread made with yuca flower, cheese and cream) and had coffee and tea. Miche is quite the knitter and so we had some knitting chatter. I was wearing my Minimalist cardigan and she wanted to know the stitch. Turns out that seed stitch in Spanish is arroz (rice) and moss stitch is arroz doble (double rice). I also had my Spiraluscious mitts on me and both Miche and Anita want to learn to knit in the round and to knit fingerless mitts.
After this, we cleaned up and headed back to Quito. On the way there, we decided that we’d go out to the Centro Historico to check things out and walk around. As the next day was Dia de la Madre (Mother’s Day), the place would be hopping. Mother’s Day is huge here. We had to quickly stop at the grocery store on Sunday after our big Mother’s Day lunch out and they handed all the women roses. I should add that roses are fairly cheap here as most roses in the states are either imported from Colombia or Ecuador.
We dropped Pamela off with Sandra’s daughters, picked up Marco (Sandra’s husband) and went out to La Ronda in the Centro Historico.
We drank a couple of canelazos, a warm drink that you add a bit of aguadiente (liquor) to. In the car we started to jam to some reggaeton and then decided to go to Retro Bar. It’s this club that plays 80s music all night long. Some 70s too. I felt so young there as it was mostly people in their mid-40s and above (my host parents’ age). Nonetheless, I had a really good time. I love that Latin Americans don’t feel they have to stop dancing at a certain age. My host parents were jammin’. So were my host aunt and uncle. We partied till 3am. I danced so much I was sweating like crazy. First there was the normal stuff from the 70s and 80s. But then the salsa and merengue started as well – the old salsa and merengue which was really good.
Dia de la Madre
After my late night dancing, I slept in. I went down to breakfast only to find out that it was nearly time to head out for a big Mother’s Day lunch. Sandra’s parents would be there as well as Marco’s mother and aunt. We were going out for Chinese. We ended up going to about 3 places before finding one that could accommodate the ten of us. All the restaurants were packed with people celebrating Mother’s Day. It was good fun! Once we got home I pretty much had to crash though. I spent most of the rest of the day napping. That evening I did manage a little bit of knitting while listening to the Eat, Pray, Love audiobook. I completed a swatch for a pattern I’m hoping to submit. The swatch has now dried so I’ll take photos of it tomorrow in the daylight and send in my submission. Wish me luck!
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.
The past two days have been pretty long. I finally got my phone activated yesterday. I ended up having to go to the Movistar office yet again. There Giovanni, the guy who had been helping us, said that his system still wasn’t working but I’d def have my phone ready by the end of the day. Thankfully he called a couple of hours later. The best thing about completing a long day at work is to come home to a home cooked meal. I think I might stay with my host family for the entire four months. I have wireless internet here, an apartment to myself atop the house and best of all, breakfast and dinner cooked for me. And it’s cheaper than getting my own place. Also, it seems a bit of hassle to find a place since I’m here for such a short time.
Today I’m heading to Ibarra, a small town not far from Quito. Steph, the Asst Field Director, is doing a site visit. We’ll be checking out the class of one of the year long volunteers, talking to her school director and also meeting her host family to see how things are going. Also, we’ll be interviewing potential host families as I’ll be sending one of the summer volunteers there and we’ll need host families for the year long volunteers that arrive in August. We’ll be spending two days there.
Here’s another of the nice things about Ecuador. Ibarra is about 2 hours away from Quito and we’re taking Taxi Lagos. We’ll have a taxi picking us up from our respective doors and driving us two hours away for the huge cost of $7 each. Amazing, eh? The bus would be a bit cheaper but then we’d have to trek to the bus terminal and you don’t save too much after the taxi ride to the terminal and then the bus.
During my tenure in Ecuador previously, I lived on the Coast and so never saw too much of the Sierras. Therefore, I’ve never visited Ibarra. I’m looking forward to it. Supposedly they have the best ice cream. They also have great cuy, guinea pig, but I think I’m going to avoid eating that. I’m definitely adventurous but not that adventurous!
Today was my first workday and it was pretty long. It was pretty much training and then later we tried to get me a cell phone today on World Teach’s plan. There are two cell phone companies in Ecuador: Movistar and Porta. My company is on the Movistar network and so we went to their HQ to add me to the plan. We got there, got a number and things moved quickly and went to talk an attendant. We discussed what phone I’d get, the Field Director tried to see if we could negotiate a better deal which resulted in nothing, and then it was time to fork over ID, etc. We had the right ID but didn’t have our RUC which is this sort of certificate with your tax number. So we decided we’d go back later. We had a meeting that afternoon and so stopped at Movistar HQ again. This time we had all the right information and so thought things would move along. We sat for like 30 min before the guy finally told us that his computer system wasn’t working and could we come back later that day to get the phone. Now you might be thinking why would we wait 30 min without question. This is just how things are in Ecuador. They take forever. After our meeting, we then went back to Movistar. We talked to the same guy, and we sat and waited. This time it was nearly an hour before he said that his system wasn’t working. At least this time we could get the phone. Tomorrow he’ll call us to say when the line has been activated and provide me with a phone number. Oh how I miss running errands in Ecuador. Somehow everything takes an age to complete and sometimes even days.
We knew it would take it’s time to get things done so while we waited Kate trained me in stuff that I needed to know for the job.
There are some things that are pretty cool here. $0.25 for a bus ride. That was the same price when I was here in 2004 so it’s great that that hasn’t risen. I’m also enjoying the cost of the taxis. $1-$3 will get you across town. Ecuador is actually quite expensive for South America but after NY prices I’m loving it. For lunch we went to this place and had an almuerzo – you get soup, meal of rice and chicken and salad, dessert plus juice all for $2.50.
I’m pretty knackered after today. It’s been raining like crazy every afternoon. Pouring rain that soaks through everything. Also I’m getting used to communicating in Spanish throughout the day which can be tiring. I’m happy that I can converse pretty ok so far. I had breakfast and dinner with my host family and I could hold my own during the conversation. I still have to get into the swing of it but I think it will flow better soon. I’m going to take some Spanish lessons while here to keep improving and tomorrow I have my first lesson. Can’t wait! I do love some self-improvement.
Today I had my first full day in Quito and it was very busy. I went over to Kate’s, the Field Director for the year long programs, house and her husband, his sister and his mother prepared an amazing bbq (parrillada) for us. It was delish!
While they cooked we talked shop and drank wine. So I guess my working life started right away. There’s not really a break though in these volunteer situations. With many volunteers in the country and just Kate and Steph (the Asst Field Director) to deal with stuff, life’s very busy.
Kate has a lovely home and an amazing view from her apartment. Here are some pics. I love the fog over Pichincha (the local mountain).
She’s married to an Ecuadorian and they have two children together, the first is her stepson and then the daughter is her biological child.
After our festival of meats – there were two kind of sausages, chicken, steak and pork, we headed to the office. As a new month has begun, expenses had to be completed.
In complete randomness, it turns out that the family the Asst Field Director stayed with while she looked for a place (she started in January) was the same family I lived with during my month long orientation in Quito when I was a volunteer here in 2004. So she called up our ex-host brother to say I was in town and he remembered me. I was quite close with that family during my time in Ecuador. Anyhow, after work we headed to his apartment and hung out drinking wine (as you do) and reminiscing about times past. It was so cool to catch up and feel a bit more grounded here.
Tomorrow I start work and I really have to hit the ground running. I have 26 summer volunteers coming and host families and job placements need to be finalized. I’m looking forward to it though. After the last few months of doing not much, I shouldn’t say that because I did get my knit designing off the ground, it’s good to feel like I have a place again; something I was desperately searching for (and have yet to find) in NY.
I arrived in Quito last night around 10pm though it took an hour or longer to get through customs. The line was forever long and every single bit of luggage had to be x-rayed. The line was pretty chaotic as well as some it started from 3 different places and people kept trying to sneak in.
While the plane ride was fairly smooth, I was very unlucky in my seatmates. From NY to Atlanta I sat next to a couple. The wife was a bit obese (needed a wheelchair to get off the plane) and the husband who sat in the middle seat kept letting out these smelly farts every 10 min or so. I thought I would die. We arrived in Atlanta and I had a 3-hour stopover which was cool. I enjoyed some yummy frozen yogurt, bought new headphones from Brookstone and then did a bit of knitting. I had planned to work on Little Birds but instead I cast on Saroyan. I hadn’t wound my yarn though so I was sitting at my gate, yarn around my knees, winding away. I’m going to knit it up in Malabrigo Worsted, Bobby Blue. Anyhow, I thought that lightning couldn’t strike twice on farty seatmates. Boy was I wrong. The 5-hour flight from Atlanta to Quito was not pleasant seatmate wise. At least his were spaced out every 20-30 min so it was slightly better than the NY-Atlanta flight.
Luckily the movie choices were really good; everything I’d planned on seeing and never got around to seeing. I ended up going for the fluff movies though. I wanted to knit and not pay too much attention so I went for It’s Complicated with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin and then Ninja Assassins, a B-grade action movie. I have a thing for B action movies.
I was met at the airport by the World Teach Field Director and Asst Field Director. We then took a cab to my host family’s house. I’ll be staying here while I look for my own place. It’s very comfortable. I have an apartment to myself on the top floor. It’s a bit colder than I had planned for. NY was so hot the last few days that I think I may not be as prepared clothes-wise as I should be. I’ll be ok though. I brought a jacket and some sweaters and I guess if worse comes to worse, I could knit myself a couple of sweaters (or of course just buy some) :-).
I was pretty tired after the long trip – around 12 hours total. But I had to immediately make nice with my host family. We sat around, the parents (Sandra and Marco) and the World Teach peeps and chatted. All in Spanish of course. Luckily, Kate, the Field Director, is the chatty sort and kept the conversation going as I slowly faded. Long flight, having to speak in Spanish after years of not practicing, really high altitude – Quito is around 9,000 ft above sea level, the second-highest capital city in the world – and I was pretty much down for the count.
This morning I had breakfast with my family. We had brekkie around 9am which is sooo early for me. Being unemployed for the last while, I’ve fallen into bad habits. Staying up knitting and watching movies till 3 or 4am and then waking up somewhere between noon and 2pm. So for me, breakfast at 9am was hard.
There’s a pic of the breakfast table. We had empanadas de queso, boiled eggs (not in pic), more bread, a choice of tea, hot chocolate or coffee, and fresh pineapple juice. I’m really looking forward to having fresh juice every day. I’m not a coffee drinker and most ex-pats don’t particularly like Ecuadorian style coffee. It’s pretty much instant Nescafe in a cup of hot milk – cafe con leche.
I got to chat with the whole family at breakfast. There’s the parents I mentioned earlier – Sandra and Marco, then there are three kids, Alejandra – the oldest, 25, Andrea – 22 and studying Architecture and the youngest, Christian, 13. There was also Daniel who I’m not sure if he’s one of their children or a friend or a cousin or what. A mystery to figure out.
Gosh a new month already. I think my goal for May will be to have more blog posts than last month and to publish at least one design. I have a bunch of design ideas in my queue (journal) so hopefully I’ll be able to execute at least one.
I’m at the airport currently waiting for my flight. First I go to Atlanta, layover for about 3 hours and then to Quito. JFK is cool in that there’s a free wireless area of which I’m currently taking advantage. For the most part my morning has been uneventful. After a fairly sleepless night, strange as I didn’t think I was nervous or anything, I decided I didn’t need my beading equipment and so took that out of my suitcase. I then readied myself and packed my toiletries. I weighed my bags and each was a few pounds over the 50 lbs I’m allowed but I assumed they always give you a few pounds leeway. I then called a cab (my mother had to work today) and headed off.
My cab driver was lovely. A Ugandan guy who actually made interesting conversation. I arrived at the airport, eschewed curbside check-in (didn’t want to have to pay a tip) and then entered. My self check-in went well and there was a lovely Delta person who provided some assistance. I felt good. No one was around and the people seemed friendly so I was sure that the few pounds extra on my luggage would be fine. WRONG! The guy checking me in was like, it’s 3 lbs over, it’s too much. I tried to smile and reason and he was having none of it. So I took out a few things. I had a tote bag for expressly that purpose. Then my second bag was also a few pounds over and I had to do the same again. Now I’m stuck walking around with a tote bag with a towel, my jacket and a Barbara Walker treasury, oh and some pop tarts. It was a last minute purchase last night and it’s actually good having it in my hand luggage as it means I don’t have to buy expensive airport food. Good thing I took out my beading stuff, else I’d have had a lot more to take out. Both bags were still a bit overweight but it seems that the guy just wanted to watch me take something out and then it was fine. I’m not too worried for my trip home as I have mosquito repellent, sunblock, shampoo, conditioner, presents for my initial host family… stuff I have no intention of taking back home with me.
Once I arrive in Quito. I’ll be meeting my host family. I stay with a host family while I look for my own place. That should be fun though I’m not feeling particularly social at the moment (could be the lack of sleep). I would have preferred to be in a hotel for a few days while I acclimate to my new surroundings. I tend to like having my space while I adjust to a new environment but that is not to be. Oh well… I’m sure I’ll turn on once I arrive. To a new adventure for the next four months. Viva Ecuador!