Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ketchup...Catsup... Catch up

I realize that I have not written on here for far too long. So much has happened, that it has seemed far too overwhelming of a task. After some talking to my grandma, I decided I would bite the bullet and update everyone on the last few weeks of my life here in Ecuador. It will be a very summarized account, so if you would like to learn more just ask and I will tell it to you because for some reason my vocal chords can last longer talking then my fingers can typing. Alright... here we go...
- Went to the airport with Mark, Susi and Mark's dad to see Mark off to Canada... pretty awkward for me.

-Explored the city of Guayaquil, which is really ugly and pretty all at the same time

-Went back to Montanita and enjoyed the tide pools

-Puerto Lopez is a fishermans village that is the starting point for trips to the "Poor Mans Galapagos"

-Went SCUBA diving in Puerto Lopez. Beautiful reefs and some very unique sea creatures. 

- Back to work in Cuenca for the week

-Went to a huge open aired local market to grab some cheap veggies and got my bag knifed by a 90 year old indigenous woman that is literally two feet shorter then me. Luckily she didn't get anything out because I noticed the giant tug on my bag as she knifed it. Honestly though, the person I would least expect to do something like. Right now, I am probably more mad about my bag being ruined then the fact that she tried to rob me.

-On the weeked, explored Cajas National Park which supposedly has 300 lakes. It is absolutely beautifully cold and somewhat barren besides the lamas wandering around.

-Went to artisan villages surrounding Cuenca which were fun to see but once was enough.

-Kimley flew out on the 23rd so on the 22nd we got to take the day off and hang out with her. So...we met up with Karla and Matt at the mall and sat in the food court for hours hearing all about their adventures and talking all about ours since they had left to travel for 5 weeks.

-I did the biggest load of laundry I have ever done in Ecuador.

- Happy 24th of July!We worked in the communities to celebrate! Sounded like the celebrations in  Utah went well though.

-Emily and I took friday off and slept until noon and then went out for an all-american breakfast of french toast and pancakes. Then we went to Panama Hat factory which was really fascinating. After the tour we sat on the roof of the hat factory for 3 hours talking to a minister from Minnesota who had just gotten done reading Under the Banner of Heaven. We had a bit of explaining to do...it was the richest, most open conversation I have ever had with someone outside of our faith. He said that Emily and I were the most liberal mormons he had ever met- I took it as a compliment. :)

-Today is Sunday which means I only have 4 days left in Ecuador. It is a bitter sweet moment when you realize how little time you have left but you reflect on the time you have spent here. Soon I will be off to new adventures, exploring new countries which I can't wait for.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chi Chi


I could see my breath this morning when I walked to the store. Yeah, it is that cold. I can't wait for a weekend on the coast to warm me up a bit and before you know it I will be back in the 100 degree weather of Utah. I'm so excited to be warm!

Today was Mark Steve's last day. He is moving to Canada for a month to finish up his schooling. I am so excited for him to be able to live in Canada, work on his english and hopefully get his foot in the door to get his wife and child Canadian citizenship. However,I am so sad that he is leaving us here for a month to work the two people who don't like us. Maria Eugenia does not like us and Priscilla is so fun but she is not as close to us as Mark was. It will be a long few weeks that we have left as far as work is concerned, but we can handle it. 

I am so thankful for people who try their hardest to make others feel comfortable when they are out of their element. Mark introduced us to his family, took us on tours around the city, took the time to talk to me english when I was frustrated with spanish, invited us to go dancing and to his exclusive restaurant opening. It is so nice to work with a person who is not only your boss, but is your friend, someone you can talk to. His wife is wonderful and is 22 years old, so we have a lot of fun talking to her and she can relate. I will miss Mark Steve and am so thankful for the Ecuadorian family comfort he created for me during this internship. 

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My very favorite Sister!

I was told by Cassie, that she hears from me the least of all of her siblings including her brother in Iraq... So I am here to redeem myself. Hopefully this will make up for lost time.

I could never have hand-picked a more perfect woman to be my sister. Ever since I was a little girl, each year I would ask Santa to get me a sister for Christmas, it always seemed to arouse quite a response from the jolly ol' man but it was truly all that I ever wanted. I gave up hope on a sister when I was in high school... thats right... high school. I had survived my brothers all by myself and by the time high school rolled around they were on their missions and I had no need of a partner in crime. Soon it was time for Preston to come home and can I just say, thank heavens for missions! He came home a totally different, much more kind, person and we were best friends, not just bratty sister and mean big brother, but friends. It only took a matter of weeks before he met a girl who changed his world and before I knew it, he was a goner. 

At first I was sad to lose such a great friend (and not to mention-a car to use) so quickly after he came home, especially to a girl only one year older then me. But that feeling didn't last long at all for after a few times of meeting Cassie, I knew we would be the best of friends and she was the perfect fit for a our odd little family. Cassie is the perfect sister that I always dreamt of having. Here is why, she:
- is SO kind
- is the most loving person towards everyone she meets
- has awesome style
-gives the best haircut and color in the world
-is always willing help in time of need
-is always there to lend a listening ear
-has a contagious smile and laugh
-is always up for a good time and tries to make everything fun
-is creative
- is always willing to share her clothes or anything else for that matter
-has given me countless make overs
-is so accepting and open hearted
-is willing to try new things like some of moms cooking :)
-has an incredibly strong testimony which shines through her countenance

Thank you Casandra for looking past my big bro's weird qualities and loving him enough to be with him for eternity because you are the best choice he has made. You have been the perfect addition to our family and I am so thankful for all that you do for me. Here is to you on your big day, I am so blessed to be able to call you sister. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cuy







Ok I know all of you are dying to know how to make edible guinea pig food bowls so I thought I would share the secrets I learned today... be excited!

Step one: Dump a huge amount of random grains and herbs on the floor of the community chapel

Step two: Make sure to mix up the grains good. ( Bad english I know)

Step three: Add a little bit of cement, thats right cement for the guinea pigs to eat.  

Step four: Mix in a vat of molasses that is about the size of a small volkswagen

Step five: Mix, Mix, Mix

Step six: Using plastic bowls for a mold, smash as much of the goop in the bowls as you possibly can

Step seven: Dump the food out of the mold and let dry 

Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Adoption

For the past week we have been working up in one community everyday teaching classes on guinea pigs. We have been teaching about how to properly care for them, what to do when they are sick, which kinds are most expensive and best tasting, which ones should mate with other ones and worst of all, proper ways to kill and cook them.  Once the villagers have graduated from these classes, we will help them to build a hutch, as well as give them guinea pigs to start their own little business that will hopefully benefit their whole community. 

There is a little boy in the community who is absolutely adorable, his name is Johnny and he is about 4 years old. Kimley and Johnny have become buds and he is for sure her favorite. Kimley was joking around with his parents, saying things like " Oh I could just take him home with me, He is so cute." To which they basically said, completely seriously, "Yeah he is special but...How much do you want to pay for him?" Kimley explained that she was not being serious at all, however, they are still taking he seriously. Ever since that day they have been asking her if they could work out a deal where she takes him home for a few years and pays them monthly... basically renting their child. They asked if she could take more of their children and said they wouldn't mind. Today Johnny was all dressed up with clean clothes, he was washed and was wearing jewelry. It is as if they were trying to make him look better so she will want him more. I can't believe it. I am absolutely in shock at how quickly and easily they would sell their own son for a little bit more money. Who does that? I was thinking that maybe they were saying those things because they want their son to have the opportunities that they may never be able to grant him. However, as time as passed, through their speech and actions you can tell that they are just in it for the money. I cannot imagine being so desperate for money that would you be willing to give up your own child. What a humbling, frustrating situation this has been.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Stroll

Today I wandered the hurried city of Cuenca to enjoy the beautiful weather, amazing architecture, take pictures and enjoy being on my own. I can't believe it, I live in Ecuador. I have grown quite fond of this diverse city and had an absolute adventure discovering new places and revisiting some old favorites. I thought I would share them with you...











Medical Campaign










Yesterday we worked in the communities along side 5 dentists to provide dental care for those who can't travel the distance into town for check ups. It was a wonderful experience. 

We rented a bus that hauled all of us and our supplies up the steep terrain to the community named Yanalpa. When we got there we turned the classroom into a clinic by giving each dentist a desk for the clients to sit on, we had a receptionist that took down their information and we also had a station for writing thank you card to the donors of ASCEND for making it possible for this campaign to happen. We, well I shouldn't say we because I didn't do much of the hard work, the dentists worked solidly for a few hours and were extremely efficent. Before they were allowed to get checked we taught them how to properly brush their teeth and gave them a toothbrush and toothpaste to keep. 

It was absolutely amazing, the dentists were full on giving shots, pulling teeth, scraping out cavities etc. and not once did I see a tear or hear a noise come from anyone including the 30 kids we had come through. You go to an American dental office and inevitably you will hear a child screaming in the back room. Not here, these kids are tough.  Overall, it went very very well and I would love to do more of these medical campaigns even if I can't stay in the room where all of the procedures are going on for more then 10 minutes. Yeah, watching teeth being pulled is not my cup of tea.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Americano

I know this is not the best post for the 4th of July, but it's how I am feeling so here it is.
Although I feel it a priviledge to be an American, I hate the inequality that is associated with such a title. As often as I try to shut it from my mind and act as if it does not happen, I can't help but notice the acts of inequality that surround me daily in Ecuador.
A moment today brought me to tears of frustration and absolute madness. I could not stand the fact that I was riding in the comfort of a heated cab while three women with infants on their backs were riding in the bed of the truck soaked with rain. I wanted to scream when I heard the babies crying from the cold and I attempted to stop the truck. Mark Steve would not let me  and he said in broken english was " It is hard for me too." If it is so hard then why do we allow it? For the rest of the ride I cried with thoughts of being in their position and hoping that someone would give up their seat for me or at least for my child. 

This is just one of the many times I have noticed how terrible my position is in Ecuador. I feel like I am taking a step back in time whenever I ride on the bus. I watch from my seat in the front as all of the indigenous villagers are either passed by on the side of the road or are forced make their way towards the very back. It is not fair, yet I feel as if there is nothing I can do. Im stuck in a world where all I want to do is scream but I'm forced to be silent because of a language and cultural barrier. 

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kampak Wasi

Last night, Mark Steve invited us to his wife's new restaurant, Kampak Wasi to join in a family feast and watch futbol. The grand opening for the restaurant is tomorrow but they invited us early for a sneak peak. It was so fun and the food was delicious! However, they did think that we were the strangest people they had ever met, we didn't want to eat the meat, or drink the wine, or drink the liqour, and we through a series of conversation they found out that we were all virgins. We ate the meat because they insisted and even though it was very good, it still made us a bit sick. After not having meat for 3 months, it's a little shocker to your stomach when you finally do, in Emily's case, it had been 7 years. The family was all so warm and welcoming and it was nice to be in that setting, it feels as if it has been years since I have had a nice homemade meal with family gathered together. The restaurant is beautiful and will be such a success when it opens. They have incredible taste and business skills so I'm sure it will be booming after tomorrow. They are going to give us one of their serving dishes to remember them by which is so neat, it will be crazy carrying it home but such a fun piece. 

The futbol game was insane! We were down 1 to 3 at the end of the game and went into double overtime somehow and won the game in a shootout! Let's hear it for Ecuadorian Soccer teams!

Today we went into the villages and taught micro-enterprise classes using Cuy (Guinea Pig) as the investment. The classes have been going so well and I'm excited to stop talking about it and actually getting to work. I'm not excited about the outcome for the guinea pigs but it will be nice to have a project that makes you work hard. It was absolutely freezing today, I have been wearing 4 layers and stayed wrapped up in blankets and still can't seem to get warm. I hope this cold spell ends tomorrow, I heard it won't end.  For all of you in 100 degree weather, be thankful, because you could be in my position. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Famous Family!!

I started it off by being on Ecuadorian news, but my family has taken the cake by being featured on the news as well as on the internet! It was so fun to see my mom and Grandpa Lofgreen tell their American story. It was even more fun to show my co-workers how cool my family is because they were streaming live to our office all the way in Ecuador. 

I heard that my mom will be on the news in Utah too, so keep your eyes open on Friday the 4th of July on Fox 13. 

Go to www.realamericanstories.com, click on "My Story" and watch Launa Costley and Val Lofgreen because those are the best ones:) But I admit- my opinion is a bit biased.

I can't wait to see who is next for our family's 15 minutes of fame. Maybe Cameron will discover a pirates treasure in the caribbean, or dad will be featured on a Saab documentary for putting the most miles on a car in the shortest amount of time. Whoever is next, I know I will be proud to call them family. 

I love you all, enjoy!

Unsolved Mysteries: Ecuador

This program is about unsolved mysteries. The re-enactments and specials effects are actual eyewitness accounts. What you are about to read is not a news broadcast.

Mystery #1: Where did Emily's headset go?
Answer: Hidden under a decorative hat that no one touches, or even notices for that matter.

Mystery #2: What happened to Marianne's 10 dollars?
Answer: Unsolved

Mystery #3: How did Maria Eugenia know exactly where we hid our room keys?
Answer: She dug through all of our food and supplies in the kitchen to find them.

Mystery #4: Why would Maria Eugenia want to have our room keys?
Answer: Unsolved

Mystery #5: Where did Emily's headset go again?
Answer: Hidden in a locked drawer that only certain employees have the keys to. 

Mystery #6: Why were we told to keep our rooms locked at all times?
Answer: Slowly I am begining to realize why...

Next time on unsolved mysteries, we will look into the lives of 3 young interns living in Cuenca Ecuador who have been linked to this particular case.