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, April 25, 2005

Marching for 'el pais', and up to 4000m!!

Well I shall start with the historical events of this week!!! Been involved in a ‘revolution’ (!!!!!)… Lucio is the third Ecuadorian president to be ousted by mass public protests in the past 9 years…

Whilst I was watching the country seemingly fall apart on Wednesday morning, with protests getting more violent in the capital, such headlines from England could be found on The Beeb website:
‘Parties fight over council tax’ ‘Rover cars to be made in China’ ‘Stars out for the Guide to the Galaxy’
now, what kind of news would you prefer to hear/ be a part of?? I know which I’d choose, it’s far more interesting (though saddening!) to hear about getting rid of presidents, uncovering corruption than to hear about Rover cars going to China!! There’s never a dull moment here in South America!!

Out to march
So, my role in all this: I arranged with Anne (german lass) to go to the cinema with another german friend of hers and some Ecuadorian friends on tuesday evening to see ‘Entre Copas’ aka ‘Sideways’, or so I thought!… when Andres arrived he commented that he’d like to go on the march they’d just passed and anne jumped in ‘yeah let’s go, we’ll accompany you’ … so that’s where it all started, and we left the car somewhere safer then we walked down to join in the march picking up another chum on the way. This guy’s house was just opposite where the march was passing so we joined in right at the front!! To be honest I felt abit ridiculous, I mean he wasn’t my president!! But I got into it, shouting ‘Lucio fuera’ ‘Lucio fuera’ (Lucio out) and ‘Democracia si, dictadura no’ (I think you can work that one out!!)… We were walking in the middle of the road, I reckon about 200 people mainly students but other ‘normal’ people as well! As cars passed us, there were people waving flags, people tooting their horns (which they’d been doing ever since a week ago friday as a form of protest). We continued walking and our numbers started to dwindle and I was thinking, is this it?? Didn’t seem a very impressive protest! But then we arrived at the end of Parque Elijido, and there was were the big protest was!! A traffic jam of cars, and I reckon several thousand people protesting!!

So what happened?
We made our way closer into the crowd of people chanting and shouting and waving their flags… they were being stopped from going any further by the police… every so often the police threw new bombs of teargas at the protesters.. then we heard that a Chilean news reporter had died from suffocation as a result of the gas…the police started getting more aggressive with their gas throwing so we decided to leave… reckon this about 10, 10.30pm!!

And what next?
So that was tuesday night, and the first death of these protests (total death count 4, with hundreds injured)… it struck me that it seemed such a senseless way to die! But I guess the life of a news reporter takes you to dangerous places! So wednesday morning, it all seemed abit desperate, now that one person had died, we didn’t have a clue what was going to happen next, how it was going to end! That morning after helping abit in the kitchen I had to fold a load of card using the special technique so that they ‘quedan bonita’ (look pretty) and whilst I did this I watched the events unfold on the TV! Saw the protests getting worse near where we were the night before, and in the historic centre as protestors tried to get closer to the presidential palace…throwing rocks, being repelled by gas…mostly students of both university and college age… then we heard that the Chief of Police had renounced his post coz he didn’t want to see Ecuadorians fighting Ecuadorians any more… then at 1.30pm the Congress announced that they had voted that Lucio leave his post, that he was no longer president…

The results, and the future…
So I thought: yeah, at last, an end to the problems but ah ha no… Congress inaugurated the vice President Alfredo Palacio… but protests continued, this time changing to ‘Todos fuera’ (All out) ‘Politicos fuera’ (Politicians fuera)… el pueblo (the village, the people) don’t want anything to do with anything that has anything to do with (?!!?) Lucio! Ni Alfredo, ni el Congreso, ni nada (not alfredo, not the Congress, not anything). So that is where we’re at, we have this new president but the people don’t want him!! Friday the US was calling for new eleccions, which is what the people want – a chance to choose for themselves… Though talking to my Ecuadorian friend the other day he was very pessimistic that anyone good would ever be in office. We shall just have to wait and see what happens next!! There is so much more I could say about the events here but I don’t want to bore you as I’m not the best of writers, but click below to see some photos from the local press of the events, which will give you a better idea of how things have been!

Effects on Remar..
Hmm… the recent protests haven’t had a good effect on the children… we had rather a serious incident the other day. The children decided to play ‘huelga’ (strike) and were apparently throwing rocks (a terrible example of imitative play!), and one girl of 8 got hit in the head with a rock and blood was pouring down her face, red and thick!!! ¡Que susto! (what a shock!)… her mum cleared it up (Beatrice, a ‘volunteer’, from Columbia that lives in Remar) and it wasn’t a big wound… but it was a hard slap in the face of how events such as these effect children!! The other thing is that the office of remar is situated right in front of the Consejo Provinical (Head office of the province) which was one of the most busy sites for the protesting! Hence rather dangerous!! On wednesday one of the boys in remar, alberto, 13 years, was leaving the office with his responsable (the person responsible for him) and for some ridiculous reason they decided to walk through the march – it was after Lucio had been ‘botado’, got rid of, so they thought it would be calmer. But it wasn’t, and they started to walk faster through the crowd… but then alberto fell… he’d been hit by a teargas bomb in the head which knocked him to the ground when he hit his face! Thankfully his responsable managed to pick him up and shout ‘Ambulancia’, and they took him speedily to the hospital. Alberto ended up with 12 stitches in his head, and 24 on his lip and chin. I saw him on friday and poor thing, he looked rough!!

Other news in Remar
We only had 2 days of lessons coz of the political crisis, both of which were quite tough!! On monday in our second class, the kids were completely apathetic and lazy, and it was impossible to motivate them – I was fighting a losing battle to keep their attention!! Been helping with the cards abit too this week, making the cards ready to send to the shops, which actually took a surprisingly long amount of time!! There have been two sad points which also have positives… first that Jenifer and Juan Diego had to be sent elsewhere for their safety. Their mum had turned up saying she wanted to see them, but really she wanted to take them with her – fair enough you might say but no, she’s an alcoholic and a drug addict that lives on the streets who maltreated her children! (Jenifer is suffering from malnutrition, at 4 years old you’d easily mistake her for 2yrs! As I did when I first knew her!!!) So that was sad as we didn’t get to say goodbye!
The other sad point was that one friday a wee abandoned baby girl arrived – just recently born, no more than 20 days!! With a large growth under one arm, and some horrible burns on her neck. Sad situation but there is also a positive!! If no relatives can be found by the authorities, Tati is going to adopt her! She’s had a rough deal, but God has a beautiful purpose for her life…
Oo sweet moment this week was maribel, for 2 days running when there weren’t classes she asked me if we could do English as she didn’t want to be lazy!! Can you believe it?? A wee child asking for work to do?? So we continued trying to learn the 14 animals we’ve been doing!

Up to 4000m
So bringing yous right up to date, this weekend I went on a trip to see 2 of the 23 things that my guidebook says you shouldn’t miss (hence why this is late!) – the market in the paramo (highland) village of Zumbahua and La Laguna de Quilotoa.. I went with anne and 2 german friends of hers… a 10 hour round trip!! It was great fun though, the scenery spectacular… got some interesting photos, especially of the market… all the indigenas in their clothing… 5 pineapples for 50p!! (can you imagine??)… fried pigs heads! We got up to see the market at 7.30am, then headed up to the Laguna at 9ish in the back of a camioneta (truck thingy) and ended up doing a 4hr 20min hike around the lake, and I almost collapsed!!! Four reasons for this, first, that I didn’t sleep well so was tired anyway, second, that I’m unfit, third, that it was at 4000m and the altitude affects you, and four, I was in trainers which aren’t designed for climbing up and down mountains – they have NO grip!! But I did it!! But I have to say, never again!! If I don’t do anymore serious walking all the time I’m here, I won’t be disappointed!! The other exciting thing was I learnt a bit of quechua (the main language of the indigenas) from the dueña (owner) of our hostal… It was quite bizarre to hear them having difficulty speaking Spanish!!

Oo just thinking what else there is to say, and just a wee point of interest is that the other thing they’ve made a big thing of is the election of the new papa! Lots of news coverage of that too, though of course the main thing taking up newspaper space is the political situ, which I think it will do for some time to come!! Watch this space!
Well I hope you’re all well!!! It’s now less than a month till my parents and my bro come to visit me, VERY exciting! Sending you all loads of love in the places were you are! Me xxx

oo just came to me, i forgot to mention about my night out dancing! we arrived at a place recommended by a friend of anne's, and it was almost dead (reckon coz of the marches!) and the music dire (no bearing to the marches!!)... so after a while of sitting round we decided it was make or break time - and rather than try and dance to this dodgy music that we'd try somewhere else.... so off we trotted to 'No Bar' - which was jam packed! quite a good night - what was good was that the music was a real mixture, bit o salsa, bit o hippy hop stylee (my hip hop stylee dancing got a few weird looks! think Micheal J Fox in back to the future! the people aren't ready for it yet?!), bit o cheese (hmm not so good - YMCA!!! 'i will survive' was fun though!), bit o Lenny Kravitz! girls up dancing on the bar!! (interesting!!) ... one thing that struck me was the fact that the youth culture here doesn't seem that different from at home (coz of the USA influence!) - they know all the bands and groups that we do, and dress in a similar way! you see all these 'Street' ecuadorian young lads! kind of comedy! 'down in the hood!' Got home at 2.30am!!! can you believe it??? fair exhausted the next day as i had to get up at 7.30!!! now, tis all, chao xxx


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