Many of you have asked me what it is exactly that I do here as an almost Peace Corps Volunteer (I graduate and swear-in in two days–woot woot). I know it might seem a bit confusing as for the past two and a half months we have been in training, and traveling to the four corners of Ecuador but before telling you what we do, I will start by telling you what we don’t do.
What people think we do as Peace Corps volunteers:
What we actually do:
- Talk about our bowel movements 90% of the time
- Make memes about our lives. In fact, we have an entire album of memes in our Facebook group.
- Complain if we have to spend more than 25 cents on transportation
- Avoid stray dogs or practice defence techniques for avoiding dog bites like picking up imaginary rocks.
- Carry rehydration packs, bug spray and ibuprofen with us at all times.
- Complain about Pre-service training such as (artefact sheets).
- Chisme. Chisme. Chisme. (Subtitles: Gossip. Gossip. Gossip.)
- Talk about how to get rid of the obscene amount of rice we have on our plates for each meal.
- Compare host families and observations we have about Ecuadorian culture
- Make plans to travel
- Sit in class all day
- Take overcrowded buses
- Play Russian roulette for two days of diarrhea
- Go looking for wifi
- Look for a place that is open and that sells something other than instant coffee
- Eat carbs on carbs on carbs
- Explain fifty times what vegetarianism is
- Take over karaoke bars and play gringo tunes
- Have a curfew
- Bitch getting fifty cents in change in all pennies and nickels
- Going to the toilet for privacy because there is no way to get it anywhere else
- Pooping in bags
That about covers it folks.
But seriously, we do other stuff as well…
A few of the Peace Corps trainees and I went to Banos (gringo, outdoor adventure-filled city) for a short weekend trip. I think we all needed to get away from site for a night.
No curfew. No training. No street dogs of Nayon.
Just 8 trainees in an Air BnB canyoning, zip-lining, biking, hiking, drinking craft beer, listening to terrible music and dead leg dancing our way through town.
This is our adventure summed up in a few minutes.
9 hour training days, traveling, and Peace Corps volunteer visits have eaten up all my time. However, we were let out early today which means I am able to update you on a few things.
- A video is going to be coming out soon of our trip to Banos (outdoor adventure sport and gringo central).
- This weekend we are going on an Afro-Ecuadorian trip to an indigenous community for three days (look out for a video from that trip as well).
- We are going to know our sites next Thursday which is exciting but also equally nerve-wracking.
That is all in terms of the Peace Corps update though I do have a couple observations for those who are making plans to visit, (which by the way I am thrilled about).
- Ecuadorians eat everything with spoons so good luck for those who eat meat. All I can tell you is it takes a lot of practice (or so I have heard from my meat-lover friends).
- Guinea pig is a food not a pet and yes, we will be trying some whilst you are here.
- Outdoor adventure sports are cheap so be prepared to bungee jump for 10 dollars and go zip-lining for 5 dollars. Its a cheap to risk your life here.
- Beers are 1 dollar. Anything more than that and its considered expensive.
- Full meals are 1,50 (at most 2 dollars).
- Despite Ecuador being coffee bean central, most shops and restaurants sell instant. Please bring a french press and I will be eternally grateful.
- I will not have my own place until October which means if you stay with me you will be staying with an Ecuadorian family. How good is your English?
- The cheapest way to travel within the country is on a bus which means minimum 10 hours cramped with one bathroom (if any).
- People do not queue up for anything here and have no transportation etiquette. (Brits, do not be offended).
- Nearly no one speaks English. ¿Hablas español?
- Most places do not have toilet paper so, make sure you carry around a toilet roll with you.
- Despacito by Luis Fonsi is the national anthem here.
- Barter. Barter. Barter.
- American products cost 3 times more here.
- Rice. Potatoes. Yuca.
- A pound of sugar is added to everything you drink.
Just a few thoughts, now go home and pack mosquito repellent, a french press, and a camera. I have my calendar marked down with days for when all of you arrive!
A group of us went to Cuenca, Ecuador for our Peace Corps Volunteer visit which essentially consists of taking a walk in the shoes of a volunteer who has been at their site for a year.
Here is a short video of our time there.
10 Peace Corps trainees. A 9 hour crammed bus ride with Bachata playing on the loudspeaker. 5 days. 1 host mom, 1 host sister and a host brother. Mass in the evening. 40 degree Celsius weather. A clock tower. One whole crab. A boat ride. A walk on an island. Crocodiles. Mosquitos. Running in the rain. A bus ride with an armpit in my face and a stranger putting his hand in inappropriate places. Ice cream. Iguanas in a park. Walking until my feet fall off. Lots of sweat. Bonding with other trainees. Cervezas. A game of jeopardy. A strong possibility that I contracted Dengue, a deadly tropical disease.
Guayaquil, I’ll be back.
Be back soon with more news from this side of the world..!
6 months. Interviews. Reference letters. Legal clearance. Medical clearance. Pre-departure training. Staging. Flight. Three months of pre-service training.
Here are the past few weeks from the trip to our staging event in Miami, Florida to our pre-service training center in Quito.
I have been in Ecuador for a little over two weeks now as a Peace Corps trainee and in between the hours of tedious training we have in our 9 hour days, I have learned a couple things about living here.
- Ecuadorians are tranquilo and will avoid conflict at all costs which means they will not say anything to upset you.
- Do not trust everything an Ecuadorian says (this refers back to number one).
- If you say you like a certain type of food to your host mom, be prepared to eat it every day.
- Vegetarianism is foreign.
- Do not make friends with the guinea pigs in your backyard as you will most likely eat them for dinner.
- Living on a 3 dollar a day salary is possible.
- Chevere means cool.
- All words have –cito at the end of them. Un pancito con mi cafecito por favorcito.
- Anything you do is everyones business.
- Men and women relationships can never be platonic.
That is it for now. I’ll be back soon with more news on how the pre-service training is going.