2007 Recap

January 17, 2008 - Quito, Ecuador

I have now been in Ecuador for almost a year. What have I done in all that time? Since arriving in Principal at the end of April, I have:

Been to the jungle:

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Been stung by bees on both my feet:

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Dressed up as a clown in a children’s day program we puttogether for the preschoolers:

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Become a cholita. A chola is a typical Ecuadorian woman from Cuenca– she wears a heavy pleated skirt and an embroidered blouse and usually sportsa woven straw hat, though mine didn’t make it into this picture:

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Hosted a confirmation party in my house. I’ll tell you, the people here sure know how to celebrate. I went to bed at 2 in the morning, woke up an hour later, and went back downstairs to join in the dancing:

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Played with thousands of kids:

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Blown things up…or at least watch things blow up (no, my pyromaniac side will never change):

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Seen friends graduate:

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Revisited my old host family:

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Been to the biggest waterfall in this country:

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Run on lonely stretches of beaches:

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Helped construct an adobe house:

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Gotten myself a cute little patriotic dog:

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Eaten pig head, sheep head, cow head, fish head and guinea pig head:

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Been to the equator with my sister:

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Seen some of the most beautiful rainbows in my life:

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Been to a bullfight:

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Made a turkey dinner for my adoptive family of 12:

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Oh yeah, and I’ve done some work too. But you can’t go wrong with a job where 2/3 of their goals deal with intercultural exchange (i.e. dancing in heavy pleated skirts and eating pig heads and making turkey dinners). My primary project is working with a group of artisans who weave hats and other handicrafts from paja toquilla – a straw fiber that grows in the coast and the jungle. The hats are incorrectly known as Panama Hats, though they are only made in Ecuador. My job with them is to help them organize expositions, better their business practices, and look for new markets.

I also work with the developing ecotourism business in Principal. We have a community tourism committee (of which the artisans are also part). Principal is a place of natural beauty and culture, and hasa lot of potential for tourism, and my work with them deals again withbettering their business practices (how did I end up in such a businessenvironment??), getting them organized, and getting their name out there. Cause without promotion, even a beautifulplace like Principal will rarely be visited.My most enjoyable work has been with kids. I have an ecological group of some 15hyperactive kids that come to my house twice a week to learn about theenvironment, work in the garden, pick up trash, and generally make noise. I also started teaching music for the 7thgrade, and that has been a blast. The kids are so energetic and excited to learn. And they’re patient with my Spanish!

I’m very excited about a new project I’ll be starting upwith a school in Chordeleg. I’m workingwith a doctor in Chordeleg to implement a program on buen trato – proper treatment – of children. We’ll be working directly with children fromall grades, as well as their teachers and their parents (or guardians, seeingas many children live with their aunts and uncles or grandparents because theirparents have gone to the States or Spain to find work). Mistreatment of children is a grave subject,and it exists just as much here as it does anywhere else, so I’m hoping our workwill be able to at least bring some awareness to the matter, and hopefullystart to plant a seed of change.

Llama, llama duck!


Pictures

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6 Comments

Becky:
January 17, 2008
Yeah! It's wonderful to hear from you & to see your beautiful pictures!!!! You look so happy & so tall:) It sounds like you've had an adventurous & wonderful year! (I can't believe it's been almost a year, wow! I miss you!) Your brothers must be so proud of you for continuing to blow things up:) And it's wonderful to hear about the work you're doing, helping to strengthen community business, to teach & encourage kids, & to speak up about the mistreatment of children. God's light continues to shine brightly through you, Anna! I love ya! Llama, llama, duck!
Kristen Thompson:
January 18, 2008
Wow, Anna! It sounds like you are enjoying yourself way too much!! Don't forget to come back!! Seriously, I'm so happy to hear how well your doing and I love the update! Keep them coming and we'll try not to miss you too much here! Anna (furry rodent) Thompson gives you her regards!! Love, the Thompson's!
Gabrielle Thompson:
January 18, 2008
Hey Anna bananna I miss you so much and cannot wait to see you sometimes next year or so. Well i can tell you one thing that you would like to hear i am doing very well in school so far no D's only 6 points away from honors but. But i really hope your having a wounderful time over there and i prey for u as much as u prey for us. well i will write u again and hope to see you very soon. With all my heart GABRIELLE <33333...... 4eva...
Uncle Rob:
January 18, 2008
Good to hear from you, Anna. Snowing here, today in the northern latitudes. An article in yesterday's paper described a ritzy restaurant in Lima that now serves guinea pig on a bed of watercress for $14 US. Expect to see that dish in NYC soon. 'bye
Katie:
January 18, 2008
Seeing your pictures makes me so excited to visit you soon! What you're doing sounds amazing. I really love the picture where you became a cholita. You fit in well, but you're so tall compared to everyone else!

Thanks also for the Christmas present. I got it right before I left for school and the mittens and scarf have kept me quite warm. Hopefully you'll get a letter/package from me soon. I mailed it right after New Year's so it should be getting there around now. Talk to you later, and keep saving the world!
Kristen Thompson:
May 28, 2008
Hey Anna! Happy 21st Birthday!! I can't believe your family is moving to Washington state! You better not forget to come and see us -- you can stay anytime at the Thompson Bed and Breakfast -- although you probably have many invitations -- but you know we'd be honored to have you! We love you and miss you lots and think and pray for you often!

Love,
Kristen (and the crew)
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