todo es posible en ecuador

Air Travel 07/27/2009
My friend Beto came and rescued me last night near Mariscal District, Quito, loaned me $60, and brought me to a friend's house to stay for the night. I made it out of Ecuador! I was legitimately worried about leaving, because my funds were so  low. I am thankful for the good karma I have experienced all summer -- having to rely on the kindness of people could not have gone better!

I'm currently back in fat ass America, and culture shock has hit. Where are the smiling Salasacans, donkeys, Spanish/Quichua postings, and $1.50 almuerzo? Joder, all I see are Pizza Huts and obesity. Ha what a long strange trip its been. Speaking of, the first thing I'm going to do when I get back home is blare American Beauty. I've missed the Grateful Dead and my music so much. Funny though, because I imagine I'll be missing the Andean melodies of the charango and the rondador in a few weeks.
Last Days 07/26/2009
I am leaving Ecuador early tomorrow morning -- it really hasn't hit me yet. I'm still rather preoccupied about not having enough money to leave the country, and am currently waiting to meet up with one of my friends, Beto, who will apparently loan me some money and a place to stay for the night.  Here's hoping that it will all work out, otherwise I cannot board my flight! I'm excited to be back in some familiar land, with my dad, brother, Leslie, grandparents, and friends.

My last day in Ecuador: reggae festival in a jungle town called Shell (after the oil company) that was put on to save the rain forest and preserve its wildlife and indigenous cultures and livelihoods. What a perfect last day in Ecuador -- with like-minded  activists getting together to promote education and preservation of la Amazonia.

The last few days at the SKY school I worked from 7:30 am until 5 pm, teaching summer classes to any kid that showed up. On Friday when I told Isaac, Sonia, and Flor that I was leaving, Sonia cried! Also, I would like to mention that their progress within 15 days of teaching them is phenomenal. I'm really impressed by their diligence and am happy for their future intellectual journey. When they are older I have no  doubt that they will succeed.
Homesick 07/22/2009
I really miss home -- I'm looking forward to Monday evening when I can finally sit down with my dad and brother on our back porch with some Shiner Bocks and swap stories of our summers. I'm just looking forward to being in the comfort and warmth of familiarity and love of family. It is strange that I feel this way, because usually I am away from home for longer periods of time, doing much less adventurous things, and I never get homesick. Maybe it is just because its my first time in a foreign country, all alone, with new things coming at me constantly. Sometimes familiarity is nice....or at least comforting.

I love the Latin American sense of family. Maybe that is the source of my missing home -- because Ecuadorians are all around me, embracing their entire family, seeing each other daily, living under the same roof, working on the farm, and cooking and eating together. Daily I get questions from the locals asking about my family, which is something that is usually never brought up in  introductory conversations in the States. Why does our culture embrace individuality so much? I think the unity of a family working and living as one is so much more beautiful and something to be cherished. My home here and my reailty in the US could not be more different.
There's no better place to be than Salasaca, Ecuador. This weekend was the kids' confirmation, so Saturday the entire village lit up -- every other house had their own individual party, with feasts of soup, corn, chicken, cuy, rabbit, fresh fruit, puro, rum, wine,  Pilsener, and cake. We stumbled across the wrong party accidentally, looking for one of our students, Oscar. When we asked where he lived, they told us... but then got offended when we said thank you and started heading towards Oscar's house. They insisted we come in and join them for supper. A house where we knew no one, yet there we were, sharing stories and singing and dancing with them for the rest of the evening. The hospitality was once again beautiful -  a village with so little, always so open to share and invite complete strangers into their homes.

Anyways, I'm happy to be where I am right now. The sunset was incredible tonight. I saw Chimborazo, Tuguhuaua, and two other volcanoes, set against a clear red and orange sky... and now the stars have come out. It's amazing to think about how stressed out I was earlier this afternoon. (As I only have $50 currently, am leaving Ecuador in 7 days, and a $40 airport tax yet to pay, which means its impossible for me to get home because I'm currently in Salasaca and at minimum it will cost me $20 to get to the Quito airport [not including food or accommodation].) This is quite the predicament to be in, but a mixture of listening to No Woman No Cry and the surrounding beauty has set me into a state of tranquility. No te preocupes, it will all work out. I will figure something out.
Classes 07/17/2009
It's midweek in Salasaca, where the daily activities are as follows: 7 am wake up to oatmeal and Robert singing his good morning songs, arrive at the biblioteca at 8 am, classes start at 8:30 and go until noon, when we walk about 30 minutes up to the school (a high climb with views of patch-worked Andes and Salasacan farms laced with Quichua women, children, and donkeys working in the fields) to have lunch made by the volunteers (switches off each week), and then classes resume from 2:30-6:30. My particular classes are English and Math, with Sonia (13), Isaac (10), and Flor (13). The class is pretty basic, as they have no foundation for English yet... but at their age they can pick up languages relatively quickly. In fact, I can already tell they have improved since last week. Their ease with pronunciation of the English language is what is so impressive, as speaking was always the hardest part of learning Spanish for me.  It has been such a pleasure to get to know these kids and to teach students with such eagerness.
Beautiful Sights 07/16/2009
Today is the first day since I've been in Ecuador that the sky has been clear enough to see all of Cotopaxi Volcano. I can see it from the back porch here, almost 50 miles away! I just got back from a few weeks in Colombia, and this is a sort of sign of the mutual love between me and Ecuador -- a welcome home present. Sunny blue skies with smiling Ecuadorians all around. I love this country.
 Me and a few other volunteers started wandering the streets of Salasaca last night because we heard some music coming from a couple blocks up the road. Pursuing it paved the way for one of the funnest nights possible, definitely one of my favorite experiences during S American travels. It was a high school graduate party, everyone in traditional clothing, absolutely hammered, and dancing to reggaeton until 4 am in a house with dirt floors and dirt walls and a roof made from palm frawns. I bonded with all the old men over sips of puro (a disgusting handmade sugar cane spirit that's served warm). The hospitality at this fiesta was remarkable -- everywhere we turned the men, women, and children were handing us and each other Pilseners or shots of puro or hands to dance. Had we been in the US, we would have been made to feel very unwelcome, just walking into someone's house without knowing anyone. But in Salasaca, they never close each other out -- their arms are always open, ready to sieze any opportunity for love.
This project is magical. Summer school is in session right now. Parents and kids sign up for English and Math classes and whatever else volunteers are offering to teach. They are not required to come during the summer months, yet the kids that do show up are so passionate to learn. It is inspiring. I haven't started with an official class yet, that will start next week for me. Today I read and played with some of the local toddlers, who haven't even learned Spanish yet (Quichua is their primary language) and these kids were so vivacious and eager to learn. I am very thankful to be where I am right now.
I left Arutam this morning. Hopped on the first bus  headed north, with no plan or idea of where I would end up. My only intention was to end somewhere with a good vibe. And here I am, in Salasaca, Ecuador, in between Banos and Ambato, in a little village nestled in the Andes,  at a $1/day school, with volunteers from around the world, and native Quichua speakers with huge smiles on their faces, and a view that is out of this world. Life is good. This place is magical. Something beautiful is in the air in this community, and I am happy to be breathing it in.

    Adrienne Hearne

    These are excerpts taken from my summer travel journal. While telling the story of my summer, they also express my different experiences of culture shock, being an individual  living in a collective culture.