Here are the thoughts of Joanna nee Lake as she spends time in Ecuador, and beyond... Disciple, Fairtrade Freak, Psychologist in the making. Now part of the Blundell Jones clan.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo

Merry Christmas to one and all!! i must say today it really doesn't feel like christmas, bright sunshine, blue sky, in the mid twenties!! not normal!! and much to my great joy heard mr jamie cullum on the radio this morning!!! englands not so far away!
i hope you've all had a lovely time with your friends and families! as for me, i have had a good christmas! Here they celebrate on the 24th, and open their presents then, but because Paquitas mum is ill, we celebrated on sat with 'all' the familia (paquita is one of eight!!!, though we were missing one sister and her family), so that made it not seem so strange! On the 24th we had the Remar christmas party - the adolescents dressed up in costumes and Tati made me into a flower, though my leaves kept falling off! It took place in their church 'theatre', over 100 kids + adults!! Full of joy and excitement - Maria later said that this really impressed upon her, that all are so joyful even though they don't have much! Challenge for us with our materialism!! ) (i must say i haven't missed that aspect of christmas in england... the feel is different here) There were games, dancing and presents... though i had to leave before all the presents were handed out coz Maria Augusta (my mentor) had invited Paquita, Armando and me to her's for dinner and we needed to get back for the turkey! Had a good evening with them, completely stuffed, and we had proper english gravy! yummy! and i conversed in spanish with some friends of theirs, not much as i'm not very talkative even in english but i did speak!! i am gaining more confidence day, by day, especially with paquita and armando coz they're very accepting of my mistakes!!!

Christmas day
woke up bright and early, the sun was shining - reckon it got into the twenties, but when the sun goes in it's mighty it wasn't shorts + vest-top weather but i was in a skirt. I opened my wee prezzies from my parents in anticipation of their phonecall... they rung about 9.30am and i managed to speak to all, i only wish it could've been for longer but dad's mobile ran out of credit! You know it really is true that 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'... i was sitting eating breakfast with armando and paquita just thinking how much i love my family, and how i'm so glad they're mine... i'm really looking forward to next christmas when we can spend it together! not felt hugely homesick, praise God, but my eyes did well a couple of times over the weekend when i thought of what people are doing without me! But i am very happy and content here....

so we had lunch at paquitas mum's, some 20+ people + kids!! different christmas lunch to england... only same thing was the turkey... we had mince with bacon, raisins and prunes, rice, mashed potatoe, prune 'gravy', a sort of waldorff salad in lemon jelly, redcurrant jelly in slices...and pudding was coconut cake which i couldn't partake of coz i HATE coconut! after eating our fill, and drinking whisky (! not i! though i did try a sip of the creme... yeukkk!) we sat down to open to presents... i was really surprized to recieve any from the rest of the family!! Paquita and Armando, gave me a vest top and a towel thingy both of which are handmade in ecuador through a co-operative (ethical - nice!) , paquitas mum gave me a traditional christmas decoration, monica (one of the sisters, who got me in touch with the choir) gave me two little ecua dolls in traditional dress, sonia gave me an ecua parrot pot, and as well i recieved 3 fundas (bags) of sweeties... It's tradition here at christmas time to give bags of sweets, chocolates and biscuits - the kids at Remar have received a ridiculous amount!!! their teeth are rotting nicely! (no joke, went to the dentist -for 3 hours!!! uni students!- with some kids this week and it wasn't good news!). so i was really nicely surprised! When we got back to the house, i opened the other presents i had, a couple i'd been sent with and one sent to me here, and Paquita had made me a stocking (!) which i opened with sweets and couple of little bits and pieces... all in all my christmas was very happy! i felt very blessed. Hope you guys did too!

bum-pincher, shoe shiner and large...
intrigued? well i am very sad to have to report this, but the other day i was helping mari-elena open the gates and this guy passed rather close staring at me, i thought nothing of it and ignored him, only then i felt my bum being pinched... needless to say i shouted extremely loudly with utter indignation 'POR FA-VOR', the guy was drunk and didn't take much notice. When i recounted what had happened to mari-elena, she found it utterly hilarious! grrr! Shoe shiner: I went with Tati to buy christmas presents for the kids. Just as we were about to catch a taxi back, she realised she'd forgotten to buy something so left me with all the bags (there were lots!!) at the top of some stairs whilst she went back down. Very quickly a wee shoe-shiner boy came up to me and seeing me with all these bags asked if i'd give him a present... i said no, i'm sorry i can't, they're for the children of Remar, they're not mine to give... but he kept asking, asking, asking and asking, and asking. Then he brought his friend too, and they both kept on asking.... and i kept having to say no and explain and explain that they were for Remar... they didn't take any notice... i was starting to get abit uncomfortable as they were 'kings at pestering' and there was no way i was going to give in so i thought they might just steal them (but they had more manners than that, which impressed me alot)... tati came back and they continued to pester the both of us. It was so sad, because they have nothing and we couldn't give what we had... I felt bad...
Finally 'large'... this is something you will not believe... this week i bought a new zip top coz it get's so cold here and at Remar they get so dirty, and i had to buy a large!!!! and you all know how thin i am... crazy!!!

i am most gutted that here i can not get away from nestle, they monopolise virtually everything! so i have to admit that here i eat their produce! as of yet i haven't bought it myself but i'm sure i'm gonna have to, though i'm trying to avoid it as much as is physically possible! but one thing i haven't had to do yet is eat in McDonalds (though if anyone invites me i can't say no), though i have eaten 'fast food' from chains, i'd prefer not to but in most cases than not it's safer for my belly than a little cafe on the corner!

bananas and behaviour
well, these two things aren't really related but bananas makes too small a paragraph on it's own!! yes bananas - lizzle, if you ever get the chance to come to this part of the world, you will be in banana heaven! here in ecuador there are 6 types of bananas to eat!!! Platanos de seda (our usual), maduros, maqueños, rosados, oritos, platanos verdes.... all are of a different size, 'colour' and taste, and are used to make different things! only one i've not tried is an orito. Behaviour, is in reference to the kids... i've noticed their favourite words are 'mentira' (lie) and 'mentiroso' (liar), it annoys me muchly when they call me a liar, i actually find it quite offensive! They say it whenever they don't believe something you say. But one beautiful thing i've noticed is that when the kids receive biscuits and sweets, and not everyone receives it, they share it out. They very willingly give their sweets to others... it's not the same with other possessions though! Not made cards this week, we had no orders, and Maria says we're gonna have a rest till valentines day.. so i'm not sure what i'll be up to after my holiday (off to the beach)... generally i help alot in the kitchen, and play with the kids. They're so very affectionate, and need a lot of attention, e.g. the other day one girl Johanna (about 11yrs) was just sat on my lap her arms around me, mine around her for about half an hour, extremely comfortable in just sitting there. I'm glad i'm here with them...

!chao! Dios les bendiga, jo xxx


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