29 October 2008

Just another day in Ecuador

It was 8 o'clock in the morning. Cynthia and I were just rolling into the town of Azogues after a 9 hour night bus from Quito. We were feeling a little disoriented, cranky, and sleep deprived, but there was a purpose in the 9 hour bus ride, we are on the PC committee Gender and Development and this past weekend we were to have our gender conference. We had been planning, prepping, and fretting this event for the past 4 months, we just had to check in with Fabian, a local Priest, about final details and directions to the house we were to use. We met with Fabian and he informs us that we have to talk to the Bishop for final permission...what?? He was sure it was going to be fine. What was this about? He had failed to mention anything about getting the Bishop's permission before. This is when we started getting a feeling that all this "solid planning" might have just been polite Ecua-talk. Nervously we wait for the Bishop, but when it was time for us to talk, he only wanted to talk to Fabian, bad sign. Come to find out our good friend Fabian forgot to ask the Bishop for permission and that day 20 Bishops from Mexico were arriving and of course would be staying in the same house Fabian had promised to us. WHAT?? We had traveled a total of 12 hours to only find out there was no space for our conference??? But Fabian told us not to worry he was going to ask around for another available space. Just wait right here. We had 14 people to house and with a budget of only $300 we could barely cover transportation and food costs, so we were depending on this free house he had promised. So with no other options we wait, and wait, and wait. "Ya mismo viene" (anytime he'll be back) but in Ecuador the phrase "Ya mismo" is almost like hearing a death sentence…because it could mean an hour, a week, a year, or never! But we cross our fingers and hope "ya mismo" would come quickly. It's was now 1pm (we had been waiting 5 hours) everyone has gone to lunch, Cynthia and I are fighting to stay awake, and with only Fabian's brother left in the office he invites us to eat lunch with him. Thinking okay at least he'll be back after lunch. The lunch hour passes, no Fabian, we take a "tour" of Azogues, no Fabian, return to the office, no Fabian. It's now 4pm, Fabian returns (8 hours of WAITING)!! Only to say that he tried to "lend us a hand" but there isn't any other options. Sorry. He'll drive us to Cuenca (the big town 20 mins away) so we can get a hostel and return home the next day. We were fuming. We were going to have to call all the volunteers to cancel the conference, find a hostel, and we're in need of a serious nap!! None of us live near Cuenca so we had no local contacts to find a new space it seemed like the only option was to cancel the conference. We ended up at the "Cuenca House" which is a family's house that offers rooms to PCV's for cheap. But when arrive at there we saw that there was a small kitchen, dinning room, and living room. Could we? No. Maybe? We ask the woman if there was any possibility that we could use the living room and kitchen for a PC Conference…fingers crossed. Yes!! No problem. We were saved, the conference was on. We had to change it to a day event but still were going to be able to have it!! Friday we were frantically running all over town buying supplies and trying to schedule two days of information into one day. During all this chaos we met another volunteer, Jeremy who was visiting Cuenca, actually he was traveling around because he was having problems in his site and thinking about ET-ing (Early Termination) because there was no work for him and was just getting depressed living there. He was telling us how much he loved Cuenca and would love to find work in Cuenca, but had not contacts. Hmm. So anyways we finished planning, slept, and woke up early Saturday morning to work out the last few quirks before the conference started. The volunteers and their counterparts all arrive and Jeremy decided to hang around for the conference and team up with a volunteer that works outside of Cuenca and his counterpart. They ended up getting along really well and worked together the whole day. At the end of the day they actually made a work plan for him to present to Peace Corps when he asks for a site change to Cuenca. Crazy. He was elated. And we, the GAD girls, were left to ponder how could something that started as a chaotic migraine inducing experience end so smoothly, even successfully??

This is just one classic example of why Ecuadorian daily life is so challenging yet almost intoxicating. A situation presented itself in which we really thought there was no other options and right when we decided to give up and go home the perfect solution was right there in front of us, completely unplanned and unexpected.

Daily life here is constantly reminding me that everything happens for a reason, I just need to have more faith that it all works out even if it's not the initial plan I had in mind. What a beautiful lesson to learn.

Much love to you all always.

Don't forget to VOTE!!!


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