04 September 2010

A Spanish Prayer:

This is my current memorzation. I learned it from Marlon yesterday when we were waiting to hike to La Cascada (waterfall). That's another beautiful story in itself, but here's the prayer:

¡O Dios! Refresca y alegra mi espiritú, purifica mi corazón, ilumina mis poderes. Dejo todos mis asuntos en Tus Manos. Tú eres mi guía y mi refugio. Ya no estaré triste ni afligido. Seré un ser feliz y alegre. ¡O Dios¡ Ya no estaré lleo de ansiedad ni dejare que las afliciones me atormenten ni persisteré en las cosas desagradables de la vida. Tú eres más amigo mio que yo lo soy de mi mismo. A Ti me consagro, O Señor.
A Translation:

O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit, purify my heart, illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my guide and my refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful or grieved. I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let troubles harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.


02 September 2010

¡Unas Fotos!

Aquí están unas de mis fotos de la escuela, el centro Baha'i, y la ciudad. Voy a tomar mas (¡con mi cámara fantástica, muchas grácias Cori!) por supuesto, pero estos darán a Uds un buen idea de mi vida nueva.

**I'm saying everything in Spanish first in order to practice...A translation: Here are some photos of the school, Bahai center, and the city. I'm going to take many, many more, thanks to my lovely camera from CORI!, but for the moment, this will give you a good idea of my surroundings!


The view from the house where I'm staying. ¡Que bonita¡

The Bahai Center. The photo was taken from a basically identical building that borders the greenspace.

01 September 2010

First Impressions!

I am in Ecuador! I have internet! I wasn't abducted in transit or stopped by customs or killed by malaria! I am safe, I am happy, and I am HERE!

A quick recap of my journey here: I was picked up by Jorge at the airport, and also by another Otavalian (?) who runs the Radio Bahai here. They were very accommodating and we drove the hour and a half to Otavalo from Quito (passing many trucks on many dimly lit highways at very high speeds. But we arrived in one piece!) and I came home to Jorge's house, where he lives with his wife, Claudia, and two sons. Also here are two youth from Cuencas, a southern city, named Kelly and Andres. Everyone was very nice and so patient with my stammering spanish! I mostly just crashed that night, exhausted from the 24 hours+ of travelling and not sleeping.

I slept so soundly! I was expecting to be awake half the night worrying about whatever, but I guess an advantage of traveling 24 hours straight is that its impossible to stay awake once you have a safe, horizontal surface to sleep on! I am sharing a room with Kelly now, but she leaves tonight to return to Cuencas.

I woke up to music. Ecuador is so very musical. From the neighbor who offered to be the DJ of the morning (it was his latino music that floated across the neighborhood and woke me up) to the car to the beautiful guitar music I hear right now of Andres playing in the next room: its rarely quiet, but the noise is nice. An additional noise that suddenly started was a bunch of rain!

It was brilliantly sunny this morning, warm (upper 60's), when Claudia took us to see the Bahai center, the Radio Bahai, a downtown area, and finally the Raul Pavon School. All of us piled into the little stick shift: Claudia, Jesse and Julio (Jorge's sons), Andres and Kelly! (another thing I've noticed: cars are less of how many seats you have and more of how many bodies you can fit).

The Bahai center is beautiful: a mini-soccer field/greenspace surrounded by classrooms, with a large circular area for large events. I walked up a pathway to the Radio Bahai center, and was able to see the rooms for recording, as well as some Bahai quotes in Spanish. Its a fun game for me to try to see if I am familiar with the quote by translating it from Spanish to English!

We left the Radio Bahai center before 10, when they were broadcasting "en vivo" (live), and drove downtown. We stopped at a pastelería to get some sweetbread for Jesse, before taking him to get his photos taken. The center is truly amazing. It is such a mix of traditional and modern! Many indigenous Otavaleños wear traditional clothing: lovely intricately embriodered blouses and skirts for the women. The men wear their hair long in a braid down their back. I also felt tall; most Otavaleños are very short.

After downtown we went to the school. As Claudia chatted and did something (I'm still not all there with the language) I was able to walk around with Andres. The school is in a very pretty location, surrounded by vegetation and there are many areas for the kids to play. The classrooms are small but quaint. I am very excited to learn more about what I will be doing!

We returned home, ate lunch (quinoa soup, rice, noodles, and tuna fish, with delicious fresh juice!) and since then have just been chilling at home. The TV, at least in this house (but I think it is common in all of Ecuador) is always on. This is kind of annoying, but it is interesting to see all the programmes, especially those in spanish. And I think mi español improves from watching childrens programmes with Jesse :)

I'm not sure what the next few days hold. I'm sure they will be exciting. I am having a wonderful time! Miss everyone, of course, but a lot of my worries about what things will be like have been assuaged. I am very happy! So long!

31 August 2010

Going South

Although the Houston airport has many charms (like uncomfortable seats, limited electrical outlets, and southern assistants that call you “Honey!”) it lacks proper free internet. Boingo, you are not free. You do not even have good rates, and you are a ripoff. Other networks, I’m very confused as to why you’re even here, because you do not work. So, I am chronicling my experiences via Word and will update the blog when I can (sorry for the delay, people).

So far, my trip has been in airplane mode. I really think that, however dramatic or emotional my life is, when I go from one airport to another I automatically kind of shut down into focusing on small, straightforward tasks: Take out your liquids. Find the gate. Make sure you have everything. Find your suitcase. Speaking as somebody who has a track record for losing stuff, and spacing out, these tasks take up my mind. So it was only when I was through security that I teared up, and only once I got on the plane that actual tears fell.  (PS: Becky, Cori, Mom, those cards were amazing.)

Soon after I had a little cry in the window seat (luckily, the guy next to me was wearing an honest-to-God eye bag and headphones so he didn’t notice or get too weirded out) I realized the one thing that I forgot to bring: tissues. And so I spent several undignified moments sniffing, and we were off.

I’m not sad to be going. I wasn’t sad to be going either. I think the tears were brought on by the overwhelming outpourings of love from all of my family and friends. It was the climax of finally going when I had waited so long to go. It was the emotions of excitement and anxiety and solitude and loneliness and courage and fear.

I tried to sleep on the plane, with the usual results. I closed my eyes a few times but mostly just got a crink in my neck. Typical plane.

When we stopped in Seattle, I got a new seat companion: an old lady, alone, who spoke limited English and couldn’t walk on her own. At the end of the journey, the attendants didn’t bring her wheelchair so I carried her bag up the aisle. It was nice to be able to help in this tiny way, and I hope my period of service is off to a humble start by being of some small service to this woman!

Now I have a very long layover in the Housten Airport. The Housten Airport that doesn’t have internet. So my long emails I was planning on writing will have to wait. But I love everyone and thank you for the support you’ve given me so far, and the overwhelming love I receive from you all!


30 August 2010

Enter: Adventure.

I am packed. I leave my house in 19 minutes. YAY!

The next update, I will be ACTUALLY ON MY JOURNEY!
So long for now!