Monday, June 22, 2009

En Cayambe

I´ve only been in Ecuador for 5 days, but I can almost say a sentence in Spanish! The language barrier is proving to be my biggest challenge. I´m living with a host family who only speaks Spanish, so we result to gesturing and drawings after I say - como - about 3 times. They are very patient with me, and I´m teaching them some English too.

To back up a minute...I arrived in Quito last Wednesday, was greeted by the PC Ecuador staff and wisked away to a hostel in Quito. By the next afternoon, I was on a bus to Cayambe, a small city in the Sierra about 2 hours north of Quito. Luckily, I haven´t had any problems adjusting to the altitude - I am about 10,000 ft. above sea level. It is beautiful here. I went for a run this morning and had a crystal clear view of the Cayambe Mountain covered in snow. I also watched a parade yesterday as part of the fiesta celebrating Saint Pedro. Lots of children participated in the parade and dressed in the traditional style for the Sierra or the Oriente. I´ll try to upload photos soon.

I´ll be living with my host family for the next 9 weeks during training. If I pass all of the PC evaluations (and I will), I´ll be sworn in as a volunteer August 19th. So for now, I have lots of tests and community activities focusing on improving my language, learning the technical skills I´ll need to support my community health projects, safety and security, and culture. Its exhausting and the hardest thing I think I´ve ever done. But its worth it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Let the Countdown Begin...

I can barely believe it, but tomorrow morning I head to Miami for my Peace Corps pre-orientation. In less than 36 hours I'll be in Quito, Ecuador to begin my 27 month adventure. Lots of emotions running through me right now, but mostly the desire to sleep. After 4+ hours of packing and re-packing I'm exhausted physically and emotionally.

Before heading out I wanted to make sure to share the message below with everyone from the PC that pertains to the first couple of months I'm in Ecuador training in Cayambe:

Please advise friends and family members not to send packages more than 4 lbs., not to declare a value, and not to send expensive items, such as cameras or computers. Normal business size letters or small padded envelopes are welcome during training and usually not held up in customs. Please send mail to:

Jennifer Conklin, PCT
Cuerpo de Paz
Casilla 17-08-8624
Quito, Ecuador

I'm off for now, next time you hear from me I'll be in South America!