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 during training, I will start by telling you what we don’t do.
What people think we do as Peace Corps volunteers:
What we actually do during Pre Service Training:
- 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.
- 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
- Complain when receiving 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 had to admit, it was strange waking up and not meeting up with Adam. We had been glued to one another for the past few days that I almost didn’t know what to do with myself when I woke up. It was officially my last day in Gothenburg and I was finally going to spend it alone like I had originally intended for my entire trip…well, almost.
I ended up walking along the canal, taking pictures and soaking in the last few rays of sun before heading back to grey old London. I sent a picture to Hugo near the canal as a hint to where I was. Apparently, water, boat, and tree was not detailed enough as he took a while to get there. He then took me on his own tour of Gothenburg which involved sitting next to the famous fish market in the city and eating salad. (He was hungover and slowly recovering). We joked about how watching him eat salad was an event not to miss in the city. We talked and walked around until I eventually had to take my bus to the airport.
It was a relatively uneventful day and as I made my way through the airport, I thought about all the people I had met during my stay. I thought about the first night I met Adam. I thought about how two people in similar situations ended up finding each other and spending their entire trip together. Funny how that works. I thought about Hugo and all the people I met at Hops, my local bar. I thought about the conversations we had until 4 in the morning. I thought about how upon meeting him he seemed strangely familiar to me, like we had met before, (he said the same). Sometimes you meet people in completely different situations, in completely different parts of the world, but somehow you meet them again with a new face, in a new city, randomly (or not). I thought about Alex, the person who brought me to Gothenburg. I thought about whether or not I would see him again. Its rare to find true friendship in big cities, especially when its opposing genders but somehow we managed. I thought about how I was supposed to be on my own for the majority of this holiday and ended up never having time to myself. I thought about all these things which to me seemed like hours but in reality only lasted a few minutes.
Lastly, I thought about going home. I thought about how the next few weeks would be the last time I would call London “home”. Growing up, I named several cities, countries, continents home. Then I noticed that when I would move I would always think of home as the place where the person I was romantically involved with was. Eventually that changed and it became the place where I lived. It had taken me a couple years to finally think of London as home and I knew that as soon as I thought of it as that, I would want to move again. Now, here I was. A couple more weeks and I would go back to Paris and then to Houston, back where I started. I would go back to the diving board for a while before diving off again to another country, another city, another job…constantly moving until that one day comes where I don’t feel the need to move anymore. A time where the diving board no longer exists and all that is left is a pool I would finally grow roots in.