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 26, 2005

Swallows and Amazons...and the would-be robber

It’s true, swallows and the Amazon really do go together (book by english author Arthur Ransome). So last weekend I took my first trip to the Oriente, to jungle country… to a place called Mangayacu, a retreat for Christian groups. I accompanied the Aitken family and their English pastor Phillip (who was visiting them) as they went to teach some Ecuadorian missionaries. The journey took about 4 hrs from their house which is in the one of the valleys surrounding Quito, and was a very beautiful journey – must do it again coz there are lots of things to stop off and see along the way which we didn’t have time to see any of. Specially want to go in a basket over a HUGE gorge!! Oooo. I thought it was gonna be hot, so packed my shorts, but it wasn’t… humid yes but hot no! in fact quite cold at points! It rained pretty much all the time and on the last morning woke up to find a beetle (escarabajo) sharing my bed – though I’d killed it in my sleep!! All the better I say! I had a good time and was glad I went, managed to do quite well with my Spanish chatting to people and translating in conversations (roughly!!) for Phillip.

“I wanna be a robber”
I was walking to church for the run-through of the songs for the ‘culto’ (service) a week ago last sunday, my normal route by the centro commercials on the very edge of a park, just by the main road. To my right I noticed 2 wee small children sleeping in the sun (oo wasn’t raining that day!) and assuming they must be street children, thought to myself ‘i’d love to be doing some work reaching out to these kids but on my own not sensible!). Continued walking and noticed 3 boys clock onto me as I neared the bench where I was sitting, as I got nearer one got up and came in my direction….

He walked straight across my path, coming right up close to block me, crossing over from my left to my right as I stopped (he was in the way!) I didn’t quite catch what he said at first just but worked out he said ‘ te vaya a matar’, which means ‘I’m going to kill you’ (but said with a subjuntive tense, leaving it an uncertainty…) ‘Give me your money’ He starting sticking his fingers into my right pocket searching for money (actually all there was was tissues! Nice!), I took hold of his fingers and took them out saying ‘I don’t have any’… he started putting his fingers in my back pocket, I took them out saying ‘I don’t have any only my bus fare’… he seemed ‘satisfied’ at this response and opened my path a little, so I carried on walking and he shouted out ‘ bus or car’ and I didn’t reply…

As I started to walk away, my legs started to feel abit jelly-like and I started to think over the situ, talking to God about it. I actually didn’t feel afraid consciously (though obviously my body felt shocked coz of it’s reaction of jelly legs!)– I reckon if I it was in England I would’ve felt afraid coz I would understand straight away what was being said but because Spanish isn’t my first language, there’s a wee delay in understanding which takes some of the pressure out of the situation! Also he was actually a very threatening character, he didn’t even come up to my chin, he had no weapon with which ‘to kill me’, and as I looked into his eyes and upon his face, the overwhelming thing I felt from him was a sense of despair – eyes without a hope in the world. This has really left an impression on me – he was so hopeless that he didn’t even make a very good mugger – he didn’t even try to take my bag (which incidentally had my digi camera in – God providence there!), he made a very lack-lustre, half-hearted attempt at a muggery – it was also in broad daylight with quite a few other people around! Right by the main road… So as I caught the Ecovia to church, I continued to muse on the situation, I was thinking how I’d love to be able to go back and find out his situation, to start some street work and encourage them to leave the streets (and wondered how Remar would fit in!), but mostly tell them about Jesus, coz he’s the only one that can give hope and this boy didn’t have even the tiniest bit – but as a girl this would be silly, and as a foreign girl, even more silly, to do on my own!!! I need some ecua-buddies to do it with me!! Hmmmm…

No shame
Now for a bit of random culture news. Well it seems the men here have no shame… whenever they feel they need the to relieve themselves, WHEREVER they are, they’ll just go! There are a couple of places I walk past often which I have rather uncouthly called “Public Piss Points” … whenever you walk past them, your nostrils are filled with a beautiful (?!) stench of urine! Don’t you wish you were here?! This is such a big problem here (oo and unlike in England, it’s not just the drunks that pee against a wall but business men, little boys, students too!) that in the centre they’ve started fining people that are caught urinating publicly and either they pay a fine or they put on a ghostbuster like backpack and clean the offending area!!! And this was a story running in the Trole bus newspaper!!! Would you believe it?!!

Blown away
Been blown away recently by ways that people have been blessing Remar… The week before last some university students (UCT – don’t know what it stands for but its about 15 mins walk from Remar) organized a fiesta for the children (there were 2 days school holiday because people were marching against the government – explain more later). They did it so well, picking them up in a ‘luxury’ coach, dressed up and giving them all name badges… we arrived at the uni to be greeted by a load more students dressed up in fancy dress costumes of different genres (dolls, clowns, a flower, a wolf…), and they rushed all the kids up to the very top floor where they’d decorated with various pictures/artistic creations on the walls, balloons and streamers on the ceiling (which of course the children soon began to ask for!!!). There were games, a dramatized version of Little Red Riding Hood, food (biscuits, sweets, crisps, hot dogs + chips, cake, colas), and ollas encantadas (like the piñatas of Mexico but different, Ecuadorian style – will get photos put up at a later date!). Though I spent most of my time comforting and looking after Maribel who came down with a fever (she already had a wee cough) and so was balling her eyes out! Pobrecita! (poor thing). Many more things, but sure you don't wanna hear them all now!

Connoisseur’s corner and capped crusaders.
As you know my blog wouldn’t be complete without some reference to food. The other day I treated myself to a jar of Cadburys Hot Choc – the great british export! (coz as you know our choc IS one of the best in the world, there’s nothing quite like it – it must be that glass and a half of milk!) – cost me nearly $5 which is about 2.60 squids, is that expensive?? Can’t remember how much Cadbury’s costs in UK coz I now buy Fairtrade hot choc (but that doesn’t exist here) but actually can’t remember how much that costs either!!! So every now and then I am enjoying a taste of home with a cup a hot choc! Mmmmm….. was especially nice with the awful weather we had for nearly two weeks – very English like rain, from morning till night and oftern night through, though heavier than our rain. and one day we had English-like fog!!! A first here for me! I felt quite a home, like a rainy winters/spring day in Sheffield. The other food news is ‘Melcochas’, on my way to the Oriente we stopped in Baños, where there are these guys making it in doorways, pulling and stretching it over hooks. It’s pretty much pure sugar, bit toffeish, taste of dark demerara sugar – it’s made from the raw sugar cane…. I have a sweet tooth (here you’re called a ‘goloso or golosa’ – male/female) but it’s too much for me! It’s worth a try though! Ooo I almost forgot the capped crusaders refers to the police peeps, and traffic police who because of the rain were wearing these HUGE poncho-like watermacs, which reached down to their knees!! Comedy!! But practical for ease of movement and good circulation of air!

A new foreigner…. But not a gringo…
This week arrived, Ane, a german lass. She’s been in Ecuador since july last year with a german gap year organsation working in the coast. She arrived a week ago friday in Quito, to spend 3 months helping with some group, and she was directed to Remar. So now I have a new chum!!! I think we’re gonna be good friends, we’re meeting up on Sunday to have a walk around the historic center. I think the move from the coast has been pretty tough on her, as she’s now solita (whereas in the coast there was a whole bunch of them), and also getting used to life in Remar, the situations of the kids, their behaviour and all, she’s finding hard and shocking… So I’ve been able to support her and encourage her in that, that I went through a similar thing when I arrived of feeling abit useless and all. So that’s cool, looking forward to working together but hope I don’t end up speaking Spanish with a german accent – you know what I’m like at picking up accents!!

Full steam ahead…
.. with the card-making business. We received an order for 500 cards from a guy linked to Remar who lives in the USA. So we started to make a dent in that this week – just 68 card first, so that Maria Augusta could check the quality – but it’ll be all cylinders firing as of Monday!!! Looking forward to spending more time with the adolescents and mums who are gonna be making them, hopefully friendships will blossomand I’ll be a blessing and encouragement to all! So not had much opportunity to hang out with the younger kids, and I miss them!! Ooo we also all have taken de-parasting pills coz of the water, yummy!! But it seems i didn't have any, coz i didn't have any probs afterwards, whereas some peeps were on the loo for a few days as they got flushed out of their systems!

All you need is love…
So we’ve had Valentines day, hope you all had a lovely day and just to encourage you “lonely hearts” out there, here its’ the day of love AND friendship!! Much better I think! Maria Augusta and her family gave me a really lovely to surprise, I arrived home from Remar to find Maria had left a big bunch of marble effect roses, 24 in all!! Here the roses are dead cheap – one would never dream of buying that many in england ey?!! Only the most perfect roses are exported, so all those that are left, which are still really beautiful are sold here!! And very cheaply too! All flowers are, I paid about a quid for a big mixed bunch of flowers for Paquitas birthday which you’d pay I reckon 6 or 7 quid for in England!!

Reckon that’s all for now!! Enough for you to be reading for this week! Hope you’ve enjoyed it! Just to say today been painting murials in the church in the kiddies sunday school rooms...and that i have another cold! grr!!!
Oodles of love me xxxxxxxxxx

Monday, February 14, 2005

more photos!

here is a link to see what "guava" a.k.a. Inga bean (cotton wool fruit) looks like

and this if you scroll down will lead you to a picture of 'taxo' (gooseberry fruit taste)
or check out this one... acrobat needed...

and i've added some more photos to my yahoo photos, so have a squizz... then click on the ''Ecuador'' folder...

first, a picture to show i'm not afraid to make a fool of myself - taken at the christmas party.
2nd - Maribel, one of the gels in Remar, sometimes helps me make cards in the afternoons after school
3rd - Father Christmas (24th Dec 2004) at the Remar Christmas Fiesta
4th - me!! taking a picture of myself, oo how vain!! :)
5th - Clare, Jules and Bev, posing with the 'Año Viejos' 31st Dec 2004
6th - on the beach 1st January 2005, Atacames....
7th - the Columbian border
8th - Carnaval, just before i got soaked L-R round the table = Pattie, Eduardo, Eduardo, Andrea, Pepe, Marilou, Anita, Armando, Paquita.

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

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Let loose on Remar...

Another week has flown byand the 3 month mark has been reached! I can barely believe it, and although I’ve still 7 months left, it hardly seems like any time at all! It’s all very strange! What a week it's been, here goes…

You’ll probably remember rather unpleasantly that last week I had some tummy issues, well, this week I’ve had some more… all week not feel up to par, had very little appetite, had a day of feeling nauseas then wednesday night the dreaded ‘Montezumas revenge’ (I think that’s the name? Do correct me!!) hit – not a pleasant night! Nuff said!! So thursday was my first sick day off Remar, just chilled and recuperated on me bed, reading, listening to music and watching some trashy telenovelas (one of which has a Columbian Jamie Cullum, Lynda I’ll see if I can find you a picture! – I keep seeing people and likening them to you lot… so far I’ve seen a Katie Smith, a Chris Thornton, a Chris Simkins, a Claire Diggins, a Prince William (but he was Spanish.. a bullfighter on the posters, though Bev completely disagreed with me! But then I remember often I’d say to my housemates, ‘oh, he/she looks like so and so’ and they’d be like ‘no’.), who else? Think that’s it for now.. oo an Ecuadorian version of the actor who plays Che Guevara in Motorcycle Diaries – but that one’s abit random!). Really starting to miss English food! When I was ill I wanted trifle sponges, like my mum used to give me when I was ill, then I had ‘cravings’ for caramel shortbread, if only! When people have stomach upsets here, they know to take jelly (though I think this is just paquita and not all ecuadorians!) and chamomile tea (i don't mean together!)

In several countries before lent it’s traditional to celebrate Carnaval (I’m sure you’ve all heard of the decadence in the Brasilian carnivals, all those beautiful, though rather skimpy, outfits and headdresses!). Here in Ecuador we don’t have a celebration like Brasil, the tradition rather is just to throw water bombs (I’ve heard in Bolivia, this can be rather more vicious filled with paint or stones), and sometimes sprayage of coloured foam. I’ve not been got seriously, yet. A week or so ago, one narrowly missed me… then I got wetted abit by Hector, one of the boys in Remar… then today, I was walking along the road completely in my own little world, thinking whatever I was thinking and BOOOM::::::::: one hit me, but they weren’t a very good aim – just got my ankle and as I had ¾ lengths on, it didn’t bother me! But it did make me jump!!!!!!! Not looking forward to being out and about this weekend and mon/tues (holiday), coz I’m bound to be got!!! And it don’t matter about the weather to the throwers!

Los gringos vinieron (the Americans came)….
A bunch of gringos, mas o menos (more or less) my age, have arrived at Remar. They’re gonna come for 2 days a week over the next 2 months to do some building work – the only thing is there aren’t funds to buy the stuff to build with, so don’t know what they’re gonna do! Ooo today came across (though didn’t speak to) a bunch of English girls in my internet café, they looked like post-uni travelers to me.. it was really comedy (for some reason, don’t know why) to hear the English accent! It sounds so proper! Ooo remember I said somebody questioned that I spoke English… funny anecdote… a friend of mine Mary commented on it and said that when she was in LA once that a lady there when she found my friend was from England said,’"but you're from england? you have learnt english really good"– hello!!!!!!!!!!

Silly voices r us….
Since there weren't any card orders to work on mon + wed I spent those days in the kitchen (as well as me usual tues) with Clarita and Tania. Clara and I have started to speak in silly voices to each other – finally my crazy side is being let loose on Remar, I have a partner in crime! We’ve spoken in front of the children, and generally they’re completely bemused and don’t know what to think!! The reaction of Francis was particularly priceless, she just stared wide-eyed!! Hee hee. Later on in the week, we had Vanessa (a girl of 10) hanging out with us in the kitchen during the afternoon and she seemed to appreciate our craziness!!!
I was touched this week that Lili (one of the other Tia's in charge, Tati’s right hand woman) called me ‘Joanita’, when a person adds an ‘ita’ on the end it’s a sign of affection! So that was nice!

This week instead of managing to ‘lastimar’ (damage) my hands, I turned my nails purple! I was chopping purple cabbage and the result was slightly purple fingers, which didn’t take long to go, and purple nails, which have taken longer!!! Next comes the food slot… every so often some of the police come to drop off a food donation, which usually serves as a ‘colacion’ (a snack)… this week they brought ‘aplanchados’ (planchar, meaning to iron), little puff pastry like pastries, with a sugary sweet flat bit stuck on top, about half the size of your average shop-bought flapjack, yummmmyy. The other new thing this week was an ‘emborajado’, it’s consists of platano de seda (that’s a normal everyday banana to you and me) cut in slices with cheese in between (oo alittle aside, the cheese here is pants, give me a good old bit o mature cheddar anyday!! Oo arr) covered in a pancake-like batter and fried – very tasty! Bet you never thought of doing that with bananas did yer? They’re very inventive with the way they prepare food here, in comparison we’re pretty boring! At some point I'll tell you all about the different things they do with broad beans!

Famous for five minutes….
Or rather ‘completely making a fool of myself for 5 minutes’… I shall explain… as I’ve said before, we’ve got this concert tomorrow to raise funds for the Fundacion, yesterday Remar was completely mental, people running round, artists arriving, last minute preps, but there was also a couple with a camcorder recording life in Remar with Tati giving little explainations. First of all me and me card girls were dragged down to the Costurero (sewing room) to pose at the machines behind Tati whilst she spoke a little to 2 of the real sew-ers. Then they came to record us making cards, and they decided to ask me questions…………. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! Speak? ‘on TV’? on the spot with no prior thought of what to say? in Spanish? – you must be joking – but oh no, that’s what I had to do!! I reckon I must of looked a complete fool, and I bet a spoke terrible Spanish – I know I kept repeating the word ‘lindo’ several million times! I hope they don’t show it today but I think they will…….aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! embarrassment! N’er mind, only got 7 months more in the country and no-one will have seen it in england, i'll soon be able to live it down!

La, la, la….
Being in the choir on sunday, went well, didn’t remember all the tunes completely but i managed to bluff it! Went to rehearsal again on thursday night and very excitingly taught them the Spanish version of ‘over the mountains and the sea’. yeay. they'd heard the song before but didn't have the words or the chords which i obligingly provided! that's about all for this week... what's been happening in your lives? TELL ME!!!!!!