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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

chocolate, cards, cars...

So this last week, i went to see charlie and the chocolate factory, and i loved it!!! Though i did find Johnny Depps’s Willy Wonka a little too Austin-powers at points!! Also saw lots of trailers for movies I now want to see, Papa se volvio loco (Dad went mad), Bewitched (the 60s TV show), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the new Harry Potter. Which to my point of view all look really good! But I'm not sure if they come out here before I come back…hope so coz it’s more than half price to go the cinema here than it is in old blighty!!

So, as ever the volunteers we have keep changing, pamela’s 6 weeks are up so she’s back off to the states this week, I CANT believe how quick it’s gone! The other peeps with me are Siobhan (Irish, got another month and a half), Jean (Nrth Irish, a week), Anna (Irish, a week or so), Lisa and Joosha (Dutch, one week more – had a very interesting conversation with them trying to explain about the catholics and the virgin mary, and other christians – tough in english, let alone when all are speaking through a second language!!), and Pascal --- Pascal is from the same volunteering organization as was Anne, from Germany, and he’s going to be living (!!!) in Remar for the next year!! So I reckon I shall be handing over my English classes baton to him!

Summer’s over..
and winter has come early, or so it seemed - we had the first rain in ages, and it wasn’t just rain, it was a SERIOUS storm – lightning, thunder, hail and everything!!! It obviously wasn’t as bad as what some of Europe has been facing recently, but it was bad enough to ruin a textile factory – the hail broke the roof!!! So it must’ve been pretty serious!

I was really struck by the immediate response of Siobhan and Jean to the need for new cups for the kids… they literally jumped at the chance to help out! Something I could really learn from! When somebody asks me like that, out of the blue, and like I’m the only hope, I feel really pressured and I don’t like it, I like to give on my terms --- hmm! Mustn't 'overspiritualise' giving…

Last-minute last-minute trip
So last-minute our info wasn’t correct, and so last minute that in the end, I had to get ready in 15 mins (including shower and pack bag), which actually meant I forgot my PJs, though not my toothbrush! The trip was down to Riobamba with Maria Augusta and her family, supposedly to catch the train for ‘The devils nose ride’…but as it turns out, the info Maria Augusta had from her friend was out of date (and my book was correct), and the train didn’t leave of saturdays. So, we thought, never mind we’d redeem the trip by going to see Chimborazo, but then we missed the turn-off, and went way past!! So we gave up on that as well and stopped in Ambato to have lunch with David (fellow strider) instead… which was cool, and we had some DELICIOUS icecreams!

Cards ‘over’..
So I finished the week with a rather sore wrist (2 days ‘full’ writing), and it turns out we had nowhere near a thousand cards, but 598!!! Well we would have had over 700 if they hadn’t taken a load to send to people who sponser some of the kids! But hey ho, what we’ve managed will make a difference, and we did also make 500 bookmarks! And they look fab!

Other news
I was most upset to read in the newspaper this week, my ‘worst fears’ were confirmed, that Reggaetón has made it to British soil!! I knew it was almost inevitable (whilst Anne was still here, her friends had told here it had arrived in Germany) but held out a small hope that the Brits wouldn’t like it, but apparently Daddy Yankee has arrived --- ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!
And poor me, news is that something disagreed with me on sunday, so spent the night vomiting and monday in bed! Ai de me…
till next time :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bolivia fotos

The bus crossing the lake!!! glad i wasn't on it! just a wee bit scary!

Arty view of Lago Titicaca from Copacabana beach

The Striders i went to see in Bolivia, Rosy, Niki and James

Me with a giant butterfly on my finger.... can you tell i'm anxious?? (oo this is in Ecuador, Mindo)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Lack of sleep!

Well hello and welcome to some more jo waffle!! So here’s what’s happened this week in the life of jo!

Off to camp
Monday I found out that yes, the people-what-say-in-Remar, wanted me to go on camp! So wednesday I left my house laden with sleeping bag and clothes to head off to camp!! We spent 3 days in a wee ‘finca’ (sort of country holding thingy, can’t think of the exact word in English, but you get what I mean right?!) about an 1 ½ north of quito, where it was pretty cold and where the loss of my beautiful red snow jacket was keenly felt!!!
We were 80 in all, some 67 kiddies!!! Aahhhhhhh!!! No it was fine, and not as crazy as one might think!! It was arranged by the social workers that work with Remar and the edu pscychologist… but to be honest I was abit disappointed for the kids… there were 2 lasses, trainee social workers, and they’d supposedly arranged a programme of activities, which never really seemed to materalise! Hmmm!! But we had a good time… I was ‘put in charge of’ the teenagers, some 33 but thankfully it didn’t work out that I had to entertain them all, phew!!! But man, teenagers are a special bunch, I really admire youth workers!!! but I think they enjoyed themselves! We were generally hanging around the site, playing volley, walking around or whatever but on thursday morning, we took an outing to Las Cascadas de Peguche (Peguche Waterfalls) and the water was FREEZING!! But the kids quite happily got in and soaked themselves, and didn’t seem to be too fussed to find themselves shivering uncontrollably! I just went in up to my shins, there was NO WAY I was going to put on my swimmers!! Despite the cold, they really seemed to enjoy it! SO although when I compared the camp to the ones I’ve done with CCHF (innercity London kids) it paled in comparison, the kids did enjoy themselves –especially all the sweet things they got stuffed with!! And I enjoyed myself too, but it’s weird well, I felt like I’d been away for AGES!! Wonder if that was cos of the tiredness?
Oo funny moment, on the way back from the waterfalls, they gave us a lolly and Maria Alexandra who was sat on my lap (6yrs) and was misbehaving so I threatened to give her a ‘chupetaso’ (wack of the head with my lollipop), she said oh no tia, alla come piojos (there you’ll eat nits!!), I burst out laughing!! It was just sooo funny that she was making a joke about her nits! Is that funny, or is it just me??

So I got home late fri afternoon and had just enough time to do my washing before heading out to a girly sleepover of the gels in my church! We had a great time but I was falling asleep all evening, then when finally we turned out the lights at 3.30am having watched 13 to 30 (with the Alias woman, which I found well funny, which the gels found funny! Don’t you just love cheese! - hmm. ) I just couldn’t sleep for all my tiredness – well it wasn’t helped by the heavy breathers! The rest of sat was spent hanging out, chatting, eating and trying to fight off the sleep until the evening when we had a goodbye gathering for 2 brothers who on wednesday fly to Canada to live and continue their studies! I finally got home at 11pm, totally falling asleep and crawled into bed for some much awaited (and much needed) shut-eye!

Other news: cards are plodding along, we’re not gonna make the 1000 but that’s partly coz they don’t want to buy any more card, so there’s not much I can do about that!! My time here is slip, slip, slipping away! Aahhhh!!! ‘Everyone’s’ saying don’t go, stay, but I know my time is up --- there’s only one that knows if I’ll ever come back!
Keep wells me xxx

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


just to let yous know... can't get into my email at the mo...hence lack of reply if you've sent me an email! second day running that it won't let me sign in, hope it sorts itself out soon!! very annoying! xx

Monday, August 15, 2005

no title! out of creativity

well, hello and welcome to this week's blog... reckon it'll be an even shorter one than last weeks

cards, cards, cards and sore wrists
still working hard on the order of 1000 - don't reckon we're gonna reach it, the 'girls' aren't very enthusiastic, and they're not always on card-making! but we'll see where we get to! i spent alot of my week writing the verses on the bookmarks which left me with a very sore wrist. ' just from writing?' you might say ... but oo noo, don't think i'm feeble, it's a special sort of writing which requires alot of wrist work - intrigued??!!

tati regreso
thursday tati and the family got back from holiday in colombia--- though i didn't see them till friday morning ---and the as ever gorgeous estefania gave me a lovely 'i'm home' present - baby sick down my top!! yeay!!! oo and tati has agreed that i can go during the week at the end of the month on a wee once in a lifetime trip into the jungle... dun, dun, der...

feriado (a.k.a public holiday)
august 10, Independence Day, celebrates Ecuador's first independence uprising which occured in Quito 1809 though was unsuccessful... if any such date falls during the week, the goverment doesn't let people have that day off but they move it to the nearest friday, so friday was 'feriado'... though i actually went in as usual to Remar coz of this big card-order! Maria Augusta just happened to phone up Tati and said to her 'doesn't Joanna know she doesn't have to come in today?' . so friday was work as normal but saturday was more holiday-like -- we spent it at the house of maria augusta having a 'parrillada' (a.k.a. BBQ) and i came to the rather ridiculous conclusion that at these things there is just far too much meat!!!

well that's it, not very exciting i'm afraid--though this week i'm off for 3 days with Remar on a camp which should be fun and interesting (Tati's sort of putting me in charge of the teenage gels from our house! hmmm!!!) well, love to you all!! me xx

Monday, August 08, 2005

Moving on...

Street talk
Well, this week(or rather 'last') i had the strangest and the sweetest of all my street encounters…
I was waiting at a zebra crossing for the lights to turn red, I was watching the cars to see when they slowed, and I heard this little voice say ‘Como se llama?’ (what is your name?) and I turned my head to see what was going on with a ‘ey?’ and there was this wee little girl standing beside me, looking at my in an extremely inquisitive manner… she repeated. ‘What is your name?’ ‘Joanna’ I replied, ‘Y tu?’ (and you?) and the little girl replied ‘Jasmine’… what a beautiful name I said, looking up to see if the lights were changing… ‘where are you going? She continued.. ‘To my house’… She started to ask ‘Usted es de los Estados?’ (you’re from the USA?) (NOOOOOOOOO) just as the lights changed and as I begin to cross the road I reply ‘from England’… ‘oh?’… and there our conversation stops. It was such a surreal experience that I walked away with a huge big grin on my face, it just amazed me how bold this wee child was, and how inquisitive and uninhibited, to start asking a foreigner who intrigued her, questions. She can’t have been more than 6 years old!!

Work, work, work
So I was back to work with a vengeance on the card-making business! We’ve got to have ready for the beginning of September 1000 cards and 500 bookmarks for the Pastor of Remar Ecuador to take to the big Remar conference being held in Spain… having spent the majority of the week sorting and fixing, telling the girls what needs to be done, I finally managed to do the big count of what we have… just under 500 cards!! Hmmm!!! There is A LOT more to be done!! Ooo---- but this week we’ve worked almost exclusively on the bookmarks which are pretty much done, I think there’s about 30 to do! So that’s something!!!
It’s good to be back in the cards this time, I’m more relaxed after such a long break from it…and although I’m missing being with the kids, it’s good to spend time with some of the teenagers, and we’re roped in some of the volunteers to help as well!! Robbie’s now gone off to Peru, but Pamela’s still with me, and Siobhan from Ireland has just arrived (and will be with us 2 months at least), and we’ve also an Ecuadorian lass, Cristina, whose doing some ‘social work’ hours for Uni… so all is going well!

MINDO::: land of butterflies
So Saturday Pam and I took a trip to Mindo, a wee ‘cloudforest’ 2 and ½ hours west of quito…. My guide book said it looked rather like an Alpine village transplanted into the tropics - to be honest, i couldn't see the connection!! but hey ho... we took a 4omin walk in the hot sun from the village to a butterfly sanctuary... and i had one sit on my finger... it was fine (though i was slightly nervous not being a great lover of insects!!) until the point where i wanted it to get off my finger and it wouldn't, then i started to panic a bit... my interactions with bugs have to be on my terms!!! we had lunch watching hummingbirds dart around in front of our table, which was actually really quite amusing with all their antics, especially the 'bully' who kept bumping into the rest like a crazy dodg'um car ride to stop them from getting a drink! And i was impressed with the level of the sound they make with their wings, i.e. loud!! After that Pam and I took a 'tube' trip down the river... sort of equivalent of rafting for shallow/rocky rivers... basically you go down in a rubber ring tied to 5 others (in a flower-like shape). It was good fun!! only thing was, waiting to get in the river, i got bitten, and i mean REALLY bitten by some mean little black bugs in the sand! i have 18 bites on my left leg, and 13 on my right! and they itch!!! But other than that, it was a great day out!

Generally I’m feeling a lot better after my experience, not how I was before which is in some ways better as I’m wiser, though slightly more cautious which makes life a bit more difficult, i'm definitely paranoid but getting on with things! ‘Sad point’, the 3 english lads came back just for the day to visit us (they’d traveled to Peru), and they went sunday, when they were back I realized how much I had appreciated them being around – I’m gonna miss them, they’re a real breath of fresh air, loved their very English boy banter!!
Well, tis all for now my beloved ones…
Me xx

Monday, August 01, 2005

Life is tough...

It was just the other day that I emailed a friend in response to her question as to how I was feeling about having to stay longer than I had planned originally, whether I was pleased or ready to go home… at the beginning of the week I said I was more than happy to stay, I’m very content here and I love my work and the people I know but by the end of the week this had changed and I had even several times thought I just want to go home NOW!

So what happened?
So, as you’ll have read from last week, I got mugged, I spent one day sort of dazed then got back to my usual self. That was until wednesday night…

I had arranged to meet up with my EJE (the church youth weekend) ‘family’ sisters, Mariela and Diana at CCI one of the shopping centre near my house. We met and decided to go to a café which is in another centre just down the road. We were just starting to walk down, deep in conversation and I heard a fist slap a hand. At that moment I felt the most incredible sense of evil in my chest and looked to see what it was – the girl who’d mugged me with a load of other people, and although I didn’t see her well, I just knew it was her. After that I couldn’t really attend to the conversation and it wasn’t until we got to the restaurant that I told my friends what had happened…

Understandably, I think, I felt/have felt/do feel still very shaken… to know that these people frequent my area is upsetting! The actual mugging was fine, a ‘freak’ event, even if it was close to my house – but to know that these people could be watching me at any moment, planning to ‘get me’ is just almost too much to bear. I’m taking steps to reduce the likelihood that they see me, like I won’t be going to either of those shopping centres for a long time, like I won’t be walking anywhere near the area as far as is possible, and not going out in the evening…But to be honest, I have been facing a real battle against fear and have found myself crying lots – to know that there are people out there, close by, who only want to do you damage is horrible!!! Though Armando pointed out that the girl probably only ‘threatened’ me in that manner so as to say ‘ don’t you dare dob me in to the police’, that it probably wasn’t a ‘we’re gonna get you again’…but still. I spent 3/4 days REALLY low, finding comfort and strength in the Word, pulling out verses from places and writing them on cards to remind me that I have a God who is all powerful, that I don’t need to fear anything… it was sooo hard but i think i'm through the woods now!! phew!!

Other news…
Last week wasn't a great week for other news either, discovered my granny has a problem with her heart which the doctor says is inoperable and it don’t look good… and also a wee lad from the boys home had a REALLY bad fall from the second floor terrace onto his head and is in hospital in a really bad way, though the awesome news today is that he seems to be recovering well, he's conscious and eating!! Yeay!!! But in spite of all the ‘mishaps’, work is good…although I have had thoughts of leaving Ecuador I don’t really want to coz I love me work … So last week we finally finished all we could in the nursery before the architect finishes the roof and puts on the door, which is very satisfying… and I’ve got 2 new volunteers as well who are lovely, Pamela, 32, USA and Robbie, 19, UK…I spent a morning cleaning windows with Pamela and she’s just so eager to learn Spanish and is trying so hard, and is so willing just to help with anything which is a great help!!
The kids are lovely (although cheeky!) as usual… had a lovely conversation with a couple of the girls about my time in Bolivia explaining differences between the 2 countries (well I enjoyed it, I hope they did, though it might have been one of those 'we'll-just-humour-the-adult-as-they-ramble-on' type conversations for them!!!). I brought everyone in ‘my house’ back some choc from Bolivia which the kids enjoyed, but what is annoying is that they really look a gift horse in the mouth – you give them something and immediately they ask for more!!! Never satisfied, this attitude makes me not want to give because they need to learn to appreciate what they have and to respect people. Though it wasn’t all of them – some of them said a big thankyou and gave me hug… Although at times they drive me mad, I love them and I’ll miss them lots when I leave!!

So life goes on, we keep fighting!!! Oodles of love to yous all!!
As always, me xxxxxxxxx