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.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

I've been to Columbia...

Well hello its me again!!! I have soooo much to tell you all which hopefully you will enjoy, 2 weeks worth – I took a last minute trip upcountry with Armando to Tulcan, and to Columbia but more about that later… first thing I wanted to say was, please tell me what you think of my blog, like how I can improve it, whether there’s stuff you’d really like to know.. also you can make comments about what I’ve said, that I or other people can read. You do this by clicking on “comments” at the bottom of an entry, then clicking on "post a comment".

First things first, food!
I seem to always say alittle about food so I’m going to keep up the tradition, and there’s lots of little differences that I think it’s something worth telling people about! Have a told you about all the weird and wonderful fruits before? Well last week I tried another new fruit ‘Guanabana’ .. hopefully a picture should appear below…

it’s abit of a weird fruit can’t put my finger on the taste, it’s nice but it is weird, and extremely messy (well it is when I eat it anyway!) coz it has these huge big pips which you can only get out when you’re chewing the flesh in your mouth, it’s abit of a battle, so in go the fingers and voila, mess, juice running all down my hands! Also had taxo…not eaten it as fruit but as juice, tastes abit like gooseberry’s but it’s not gooseberry. Oo pepino dulce, another we don’t have, the taste is a cross between cucumber and sandia, very watery. I’ve decided that on the whole I much prefer the fruits I’ve know before, rather than these random new ones, they just seem like variations on a theme –though some are delicious (Badea)… If you’re veggie skip the next few lines… I ate a traditional dish that paquita made, it’s very popular and cheap… bed of lettuce, avocado, potatoe, salsa thing and cuero - pig skin. Cuero isn’t like our cracking on a roast, it’s cooked so that it’s squadgy. It wasn’t very nice, but I tried to eat as much as I could out of courtesy! Me thinks, never again! Oooo highlight – salt and vinegar crisps!!! What? salt and vinegar crisps I hear you say? Yes, salt and vinegar crisps… they don’t exist here and I’m rather partial to a pack every now and then… so when jules (strider in SD) said her parents where coming and was there anything that I’d like them to bring, I said a good olde pack of walkers… and last week it dutifully came! Rather forlorn looking from it’s long trip, its contents mostly mashed into smitherines but boy it tasted good! Um ummmm.

Random bits
One thing I forgot to say about the beach was that we saw people with socks and sandles!!! It’s not just us crazy brits that insist on this madness (well, it’s mad in my eyes but I can see the practical side!).
Oo Emmie and Ashan, been hearing Lifehouse on the radio, some new stuff!!!
The other day I heard a Tim Hughes song ‘Here I am…’ in Spanish and also MercyMe’s ‘I can only imagine’…both of which sound beautiful in Spanish!
And, does anyone know who on earth Alan Parson’s is? Of the ‘Alan Parsons Live Project’? They’ve been advertising him on radio and TV for weeks!! I don’t have a clue, some old dude with a bad mullet! –ooo Suzanne if you ever read this, you’d do well with your mullet hairdresser shop here, I’ve seen plenty o beauties! Not!

You’ve heard me moan on before about the men here… it’s such a machisisimo culture (male chauvnist)… just yesterday I was sitting in my usual internet café near Remar emailing away quite happily and these business men arrive and sit round the computer next to me…didn’t take long for the most sleazy to say ‘Hello missus’… arghhhh, my skin crawled and he did it several times! Argghhh!!! It pervades all levels of society… the other I was walking back from ringing my mum for her birthday one lunchtime and I passed a guy with his girlfriend, I repeat, with his girlfriend, who said “Hola mi amor, buenas tardes” with a lovely sleazy look on face and sound in his voice (Hello, my love, good afternoon). But at the same time there are some real gentlemen, who’ve obviously been taught well by their mothers, like today on the trole… chocker bus, someone got up from a seat nearish me and a young fella stretched across to tap me on the hand to see if I wanted it. Also Max, one of Armando’s nephews (17), when we went to Columbia, always ‘made me’ go first when we had to pass people on the street (which to be honest did get alittle annoying went it meant we had to switch places… but I can understand why in terms of safety… keeping on eye on the lady) and when we crossed the road he put out his arm to guard me from on coming cars (never had that before!!) So they’re not all bad, but the male chauvinism is way worse than Eng.

My first diagnosis (clever me!)
There’s a boy called Sebastian who spends the day at Remar whilst his mother works… I first met him when I was helping with school. I noticed how he just didn’t seem to be with it, he couldn’t concentrate and wasn’t interacting well with the other children. Since then they’ve given up trying to teach him and he just wanders round often aimlessly, or in search of a palo or escoba (stick, broom) with which he has a fixation. He’s not stupid, he can speak and understands all that you say but he can’t interact normally with his peers or others, and you can often find him hitting the other children as they tease him. He finds it very hard to concentrate on doing anything and if you tell him to stop doing something, you have to tell him several times – it’s not that he doesn’t understand, he just can’t seem to stop. Because of the inability to concentrate and to stop doing something I thought ADHD – Attentional Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – then I heard Tati talking to the social worker, and she said autism and I though ah yes that’s exactly it, that’s the word I was looking for. Autism often it co-incides with ADHD (I think, I can’t quite remember my studies). So I didn’t have the completely right name but I’d noticed all the symptoms.

Jo the plumber!!! (would you believe it)
Been helping in the kitchen again… one of the sinks doesn’t have a grate thingy so everything just goes down it… when I do the washing up I use the other for doing the cleaning bit and this one just for rinsing… but not everyone thinks the way I do, so it often gets blocked… normally a bit of plunging does the trick but not this time! I first I asked if Jairo was around (handyman) as I didn’t want to do any damage but he wasn’t so we took things into our own hands, literally! We disconnected the pipes under the sink and I took them outside to have a look, ended up taking apart some more bits and discovered the tube was completely blocked with rice and finally a big chunk of potato!!! Cleaned it out, put those bits back together and connected it back up!! Yesterday I had to do the same again, this time it was a big old broad bean! (oo which incidentally I have tried sugared this week!) So Ecuador is teaching me about plumbing!

Oo comedy moment, nearly fainted coz a girl get her thumb real bad!

Life in Remar
Started back making cards, though my girls have completely changed! Alittle frustrating but there we go, one has to ‘roll with the punches’. Had a good time, though sometimes (actually most of the time) the girls speak so incredibly fast that I haven’t a clue what they’re saying! This week we changed the cardmaking days to mon, wed, fri so now I can get back to joining in bible club on tues and thurs (and help in the kitchen, play with the kids the rest of the day)… so that’s cool. I must say it has been nice to have a break from cardmaking coz I get to spend time with the kids. Had one particularly fun afternoon with a huge skipping rope (just a normal piece of rope), which me and Carolina swung whilst various kids jumped in and out and tried to better each other – the most jumps reached was 69!!! I only managed 2, but I am extremely out of practice not having skipped since school! Go to know some more tiddlers who have been very sweet when I’ve said I’ve got to leave now, saying ‘No te vayas, no te vayas’ (don’t go, don’t go) and clingin onto my legs and an effort to stop me walking! There’s one little girl, Laydee, who’s my friend again – she’d gone shy of me for some reason for quite a while but she’s taken a shine to me again which was nice… she’s 6years old and has the most darling laugh and smile, and she’ll laugh at almost anything! If I was in Ecuador for life, and was married and could adopt her and her brother and sister, I would! They’re a handful but lovely!

One little girl I spend quite abit of time with is Sophia, she’s cute as and I’ve started mimicking her baby speech (she’s 2). The other afternoon we were all outside sucking on a colacion (snack) of icelollies, and some of the kids asked why I was there… so I explained God wanted me to be there because he loves them, and wee Sophia, who was stood facing me as I was sat down, piped up ‘Dios me ama?’ (God loves me?), and I said yes, he loves all of you, and she repeated ‘Dios me ama? Y me mami tambien?’ (her mum is 17 and lives in Remar)… yes I repeated, God loves you and your mummy aswell. She had a look of great delight (and confusion I think!) on her face, it was a precious moment coz I’m sure that was the first time she’d been told that God loves her.

“Youth group”
Finally I went to ‘youth group’ for the first time (though I think I was the youngest there!!! Just to remind you youth roughly means from about the age of 16 to any age if you’re not married, but there are actually some newly weds too). It was abit of a battle to get there. I’d been feeling a wee prodding that now was the time to go, that I actually needed to do something active about making some proper ecua friends but I was really nervous and anxious and unsure. I’d been thinking about asking Paquita about going but on thursday I decided I’d put it off for another week after all I was really tired and blah, blah, blah. But God had other plans…at dinner time Paquita asked me what I was going to do on friday, whether I wanted to join them, go to youth or stay in!!! So I had to fess up!!! Slightly to my annoyance but really to my relief, and she was very encouraging saying I didn’t need to worry, that they were a really lovely bunch, always cracking jokes and having fun, and that she’d ring Rafael to ask if he could lift me home. So on friday, slightly nervously I went, and it was fine, really good in fact – Paquita was completely right, they are lovely and really funny (never a dull moment – lots of extroverts!). I had a really good evening and decided I’d definitely go back! I didn’t understand all they said and made a COMPLETE hash of it when I tried to pray in Spanish so much so that my ‘partner’ said I could pray in English next time!!! (you have to laugh!!!!!!) but hey ho, I keep on!

Yeah, so last weekend I took a last minute trip with Armando up country to his parents town of Tulcan (we planned to set off at 7am but didn’t end up leaving until 10am coz of camioneta ‘truck’ trouble…). The journey was lindisimo (beautiful), so much to see and take in… unfortunately the mountain tops were covered so I couldn’t see them (on the way back too) but that didn’t matter really. Stopped at a roadside ‘café’ and ate (there I go again) choclo (one of the 6, yes 6, different types of sweetcorn – and I bet you thought there was only one!) and fried meat – very tasty! 4 hour journey… I had wee rest at Armando’s parents house while he ran a few errands…then we set off to Ipiales, the nearest Columbian town, just 10mins over the border in the company of Anna Cristina, one of Armando’s numerous cousins, and her son Max. Didn’t have to show any papers or anything to cross!! But I’ve got a picture of the border to prove I went! Basically went there to shop, Columbians make very good clothes and ropa interior and it’s really cheap – Armando says they’re the best copiers (fakers!!) in the world, very talented with hand-made stuff. Weird coz that place isn’t out of the war but I didn’t feel at all unsafe… the only strange thing was seeing the army’s sand bag ‘huts’ on street corners. I think if I’d been with other gringos, it would have been a different matter but as I was with ‘locals’ I felt fine. Oo back on food again I ate the weirdest mix of a sweet fried batter inside which was sausage, ham and cheese, and a grape flavoured cola which tasted of sweets (urghhh).
Next day we took an early morning trip to Tulcan cemetery which is famed for being romantic… which surprisingly it was, not at all sad… they say it’s the happiest place in Tulcan… it’s filled with pine trees cut into allsorts of amazing sculptures, animals, people, randomn designs. Then we popped aback into Columbia to visit Las Lajas.. a sort of Catolica pilgrimage site where there’s a church and hot water that people bathe in to get healed ( and than thank Mary… hmmm…..). And then we traveled back to Quito, taking a slightly different route at points… saw fields of potatoes, cane sugar, quinoa (mum!!), stopped off at another Mary thing, a grotto that had formed where a bit of a mountain had fallen into the river gorge, and the river still runs through it giving hot water (people again bath in wee pools for health).

Oo I think I’ve written quite enough, you’re eyes must be getting tired!!!! Well I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest instalment, I look forward to receiving yours (hint, hint!! Hee hee) Take care one and all, till next time
Oodles of love
Me xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
p.s. I’ve actually written this friday night so you’ll have to wait for news of sat for next week, I’m taking a trip to the mitad el mundo


Blogger James said...

Hey - I'll post a comment! Enjoy your news, you make life sound like a constant comedy! I think I'm right in saying that Guanabana is Prickly Pear which you can buy in England, but in England it tastes aweful!

6:23 PM

Blogger Emmie said...

Hello Jo!!
Your Diarios are great and make life sound fantastic and interesting!!
I'm so glad that there's some new lifehouse coming out soon! I'll keep my eye out...if you're really interested about Alan Parsons then go to:
Basically he's a music engineer that started his career on the 'Let it be' album by the Beatles, no less...he's worked with The Hollies, Al Stewart and Pink Floyd among others....the project is a bunch of different musicians kind of just jamming together, recently doing more kind of Electronica feel. (I'd heard the name and knew he had worked with the Beatles but had to do research for the rest!!) If other people know his name but not from the music world then you're been watching Austin Powers as in 'The Spy who Sh**ged me' Dr. Evil named his Death Ray gun 'The Alan Parson's project'!! Bit of trivia for ya!!
A letter is on its way, angelita!!!
Emma XXX

6:26 AM


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