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, February 12, 2005

It’s raining men...

Well, actually it’s not, but I has been raining so hard it could almost be like men were falling out of the sky! Felt quite at home yesterday (and today) with the rainy weather, a good old English winter’s day!!! (Actually strange as it may seem i-m missing a good old raining winter-s day in Sheffield!) Thursday it came on all of a sudden, and I didn’t have my paraguas (literally ‘for waters’ aka umbrella) with me yet had to walk about 20mins to ‘choir’ rehearsal in church. Needless to say I ended up pretty soaking wet, thankfully I was wearing 4 layers so it wasn’t through to my skin (well not on my top half at least!) The top layer (my rainbow coloured Ecuadorian ‘saco’ ‘jumpery-coat hybrid thingy) got nearly completely waterlogged (I could literally wring out water with my hands!), and the second layer a bit wet and the third just my shoulders. My trousers were soaked on the front to the skin all the way down, but on the back just my calves…and of course my feet were soaked too!! Oo what fun! And as theres no central heating, it takes an age for things to dry!!

Getting the groove
So, Bev and I took a night-time outing (actually started at 3pm when we met to catch the bus-which-never-came, then caught the trole and another bus and had a wee walk) to the “concert” Remar organized ‘A.O.A’ (Alabanza, oracion, adoracion = Praise, Prayer; Adoration). It was really great to go, and the “ever skeptical of stuff I reccomend” Bev really enjoyed herself (though poor thing she didn’t quite have the energy to ‘get down and boogey’ coz she was full of cold). The ‘bands’ were good each had 2 slots, first of all ‘Tony Tamayo’, an Ecuadorian guy, then Lily Goodman, think she’s originally Mexican, awesome black voice with latino gospelesque music, Mision, the Remar band (the kids of the pastor who is head of Remar Internacional which is based in Spain – it was really funny to hear them singing with the ‘th’, sounded really weird!!!) and finally Jaime Murrell, he’s quite a big wig in Latin America but I can’t remember where he’s from… The ‘concert’ started at 4pm and finished about 10.30…I remember thinking how on earth will they fill all that time, it seemed ages but we stayed till the end and it hardly felt like any time at all! Singing and praising and trying to translate lyrics for Bev!

We sat with the Remar lot, and it was really good to hang out with the kids and to see them worshipping and enjoying themselves, they have sooo much joy, its fantastic! We arrived, sat behind them all and it was funny to see the moment of realization that we were there on their faces, enthusiastic waves. It was really encouraging for Bev, the kids remembered her and some came running very enthusiastically and gave her huge big hugs…, it was hard though coz some were asking why she wasn’t in Remar anymore – hard to explain diplomatically anyway, but to kids! So that was really special. Ooo and they didn’t show the video, so it must be for Spain! Yeay, embarrassment avoided!

Been got…
Yes I did get got in Carnaval…during the week, someone sprayed me with a watergun from their car, it wasn’t much and I was actually very thankful coz it cooled me down on a very hot day! Some young lad (probably 20ish) ‘threatened’ me with a water bomb saying ‘agua’ (water), I just smiled and laughed, and he didn’t throw it! Obviously not the reaction he was expecting! Monday was THE day… Paquita, Armando and I took a day trip to ‘Pasochoa’ (a mountainy reserve thingy, not far from quito) to visit some friends of theirs who have a farm there, along with Marilou and Pepe and their granddaughter Anita, Pattie and Eduardo with their two kids, Eduardo (16) and Andrea (17- she plays guitar in the church music group). We went for a wee walk (though not up the proper Pasochoa, next to it), it started off really cold but then the sun came out and we were all baking!!! As we were going to leave I noticed a can of ‘Carioka’, a foam used in carnaval and foolishly commented on it as Yolanda (the owner of the farm) proceeded to spray me alittle with it, then Marilou snatched it and ‘completely ‘ covered paquita and I!!! Armando took a picture so hopefully i-ll be able to show you guys!! Wasn’t a bad experience as it’s quite sweet smelling but that wasn’t the end of my carnaval fun! Paquita had thought before we left ‘oh we’ll just fill up a few wee bottles just in case’, so then we tried to get Marilou back through the car windows as we drove to get some lunch… we were arrived, Paquita ‘jumped’ on Marilou and there was a comedy struggle with Marilou managing to get hold of the wee bottle, Paquita holding on to her waist trying to dodge the water – Marilou managed to wet her own back more than Paquita…

yummy lunch, then afterwards… water!!! First of all Eduardo hijo (son) got me alittle, then I got in the car and egged on by paquita I sprayed pepe as he was trying to get into his car – well then war started! Though I ended up the worst off since I just had something that sprayed and pepe had bottles of water! Spray versus big ‘chunks’ of water, no contest really – I ended up nearly soaked through and Pepe hardly a dribble! Grr!!! So on the way home kept trying to get them through the car windows! Very comedy!!! My stomach hurt from laughing so much! So that was my serious Carnaval experience. When I went out and about on tuesday I was looking at every person suspiciously thinking ‘are they gonna throw something?’, somebody tried (from a car I think) but the bomb missed me… but then I got “got” my the sky (it started raining!). Another part of the celebrations is to use egg and flour (as they used to in my school at the end of the year until it was banned!), I’m glad I missed that part of the celebrations!!

The Remar news…
Well I had mon and tues off for Carnaval so only went in on wed, thurs, and fri. Half day wednesay spent doing cards, it was alittle frustrating coz during the time I’d been away somebody had helped themselves to all the herramientas making it pretty hard to work but I only had one girl (well she’s not really a girl, 20!), first time I’ve met her, just recently come to Remar to spend 3 months (that’s all the amount of days Ecuador allows Columbians to enter generally… she’s a friend of Migdaler who runs the boys home).. I was quite impressed with myself that we conversed, struggled for words and said loads of things wrong I’m sure but it was good! Thursday in the kitchen, bible club, hanging with the kids… Francis was very sweet, already telling me not to leave and I’ve still got 7 months with them (!), asking why I wouldn’t stay any longer… I said coz this is the amount of time God has said and he’s what matters… and she was saying no I’m more important, more powerful… it’s gonna be hard to leave… though I was thinking the other day, it’s great being here but I wouldn’t want to do just this for the rest of my life, just helping in the kitchen or running the card-business, there’s more that my brain can do.. i.e. psychology, and I’d feel that would be more helpful in the long run… Friday morning was spent on the cards again just with Olivia… then I had to take the cards to hand them over to the Christian bookshop. Wee bit scary, had to fill out a ‘factura’ (bill), for the first time on behalf of Remar, in Spanish… amazed I understood it and all was fine.

San Valentin
As you all know ‘Valentines day’ is on tuesday, but here it’s celebrated as the day of love and friendship – which I think is much better, coz then all can celebrate (sad fact, never ever received a valentines card in England… ahhhh). Last night I didn’t go to youth as I was recommended by Pedro not to go (not sure what they got up to…) instead I went to the house of Pepe and Marilou where Paquita and Armando go for a couples group – it wasn’t a normal week (they’re working through ‘Una vida con proposito’ – The purpose-driven life’) but a gathering to celebrate San Valentin and friendship. We had a BBQ – in the rain , you might be asking?? (…my family in England have been known to BBQ in the rain, with Dad standing out side by the BarB under an umbrella!!) – but the house of pepe and marilou has a covered terrace and there is a built in BBQ thingy! It was very scrummy, then afterwards we had a wee ‘game’… each person had to choose a name from a bag then make a Valentine’s card using some large hearts (that I’d cut for Paquita, not knowing what for) and sticking bits and pieces on it for one of the other people there. We had 20minutes to make it then took turns in giving our cards to our person. It was a really lovely thing to do, Andrea made mine and wrote something really lovely on it, I was very touched. Afterwards the ‘adults’ started to reminisce old songs (Pepe and Eduardo “grande” very good guitarists), Andrea and Eduardo “hijo” (son) weren’t too interested in that, so we went downstairs and played ping pong, rather hilarious and very exhausting (I’m sooo unfit). I felt really relaxed with them and managed to converse in spanish, I’m growing more confident all the time – I still don’t understand everything (80%??) but obviously lack a lot of language but I’m doing more than getting by. It was VERY late night though, we arrived back at 2am (!!! Would you believe it?!, me out that late! J hee hee) and then outside someone’s car alarm kept going off all night long, so I haven’t slept well, grrr!!!

Food corner
Keeping up with tradition here’s some food updates! This week I ate cottonwool –not literally, the fruit of Guava (not what we call guava, that’s guayaba here – after some search on the internet i discovered in English it’s called Inga Bean)… it looks abit like a giant runner bean and is generally grown in the coast (some are grown in the Sierra, mountains, but they’re smaller) – inside are pieces of ‘fruit’ that look like cotton wool, about the size of a date, inside is a large black pip. They’re abit slippery and there’s a real technique to eating them which I haven’t mastered yet – though it’s quite a tasty fruit and well worth trying. Last night I tried ‘mote pilla’, which is traditional dish from Cuenca (one of the largest cities in the south), it consists of mote (a type of maiz), egg, milk, onion fried in achiote (red coloured oil) – quite tasty!

Other news
Rather ‘grossly’ caught some more wee beasties this week – every time I wash my hair I go through it with a nit comb, and this week I caught some more wee wrigglers (and squished them to death!) – with the number of kids that there are in Remar, it’s nigh on impossible to eliminate nits, so I will keep on catching them (grr)… unless I refused to ever pick the kids up, hug them, let them sit on me, and that would be harsh!!! The things one does for love!!
You know how I go on about the maschismo culture… well there’s an advert for one of the Ecuador beers called Pilsner and it’s a joke on the culture of men saying ‘psssttt’ when they see a ‘hottie’… there’s a beautiful girl walking along she hears ‘pssst’ and what she thinks is a rather uncouth comment about her, so turns round to give these lads an ear-full but she discovers that the sound was from a beer and so laughs…. – did I make any sort of sense?

Think i-m waffling, best be off before you think ive lost my marbles… there wont be an update next sat as Im taking a trip with stuart and janeth (other latin link couple in quito). Hope youre all well, KEEP IN TOUCH!!! Oodles of love, miss you, xxxx


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