Living beside an active volcano
01.01.2010 - 28.01.2010
As mentioned in the last blog entry January 1st, 2010 would be the day our volcano, Tungurahua,awoke. She is a stratovolcano which means no gentle easy burping and leaking. She is a full on volcano like Mt. St. Helen's and must be monitored carefully for bulges and seismic activity. As the days went on she became more active. Small rumbles only felt near the volcano could be heard and felt on the far side of town as well. The puffs of smoke were becoming darker and bigger. It was a good show and even the kids were being trained in evacuation procedures at their new public schools. We took a drive to the top of the opposing mountain to spend an afternoon watching the explosions. Before the volcano became too active I trekked up its slopes to the last refugio with a local guide, Marticiel. Two weeks later boulders and lava would cover the upper part of this trek. No dangerous eruption would occur during our stay in Banos but it was fun wondering, and watching others freak out and worry.
The kids were enjoying their new schools and I hoped this would really improve their Spanish. During my spare time I, once again, took Spanish lessons and helped at the Biblioteca. They were now winding up for the Great Puppet Show for Ecuador’s biggest party holiday, Carnival. Ariel and Jordan were hard at work after school helping to make puppets and stage their own show.
I finally met a family that I had been sporadically corresponding with on the road. The Sather Vogel family are Mom, Dad and twin ten year old boys and they are incredulously biking from the northern tip of Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina.
They were truly lovely down to earth folks that inspire me and we wish them success in their goal to break a Guiness record being the youngest people to do this dynamite trip. Can't wait to get my lazy butt back on my bike at home!
My Dad arrived and unfortunately it was at the same moment our landlord was giving us grief. It's typical for short term tenants to be driven out right before Carnival as each room rented brings in a at least double of the regular rate. So off we were to move back into hostelland at least we were at the Chimenea. My Spanish teacher Jill offered her beautiful cabin on the beach in coastal Ecuador for a week so we took for a 10 vacation from my vacation and met my stepmother and stepsister in Puerto Lopez on the Manabi Coast, of Ecuador.
We were pleasantly surprised to find her cabin was part of an eco resort, with a pool, restaurant, and lots of games for the kids. The coastline had great waves and few people so we really enjoyed this time and the hammocks. After this wonderful time on the coast we returned to Banos so the kids could participate in the big puppet affair. Tickets sales were excellent and the show was a big success, it was lovely to see so many locals kids and volunteers work together to pull this off. How will Jody top this big show in the future, we shall see what hard working volunteers come up with?
It was sad to say goodbye to Dad, Carol and Yangzi and we would have many more sad goodbyes in the next couple of days. After the weekend puppet extravaganza it was time for us to pack up and head north to Colombia. This was a wonderful group of hard working, dedicated volunteers and I would really miss some of these folks. I did not have the heart to tell the kids at the Bib that we were leaving, I am sure they hear it all the time, get enormous hugs thrown at them, and watch people ride off into the sunset. They are all so warm and affectionate, something our North America society is lacking when it comes to kids and work due to stigma. Ariel had a difficult time saying goodbye to her girlfriends at school. I hope that she stays in touch with them and has an opportunity to see them again one day. Saying goodbye to people you probably won’t see again is really difficult, I only hope that there are a few that we will see again. Our local friends, the Martinez family, had a bag full of gifts for us and a promise to send letters.
We wanted a week to relax, sleep and shop for back to school items for the kids and Medellin is the perfect city for it. Our flight was out of Bogota and we would head there after completing our mission in Medellin. From Ecuador to Medellin would take 3 days of bus travel with delays due to the Ecuador Carnival and a stupid border situation.
If anyone out there reading this is interested in volunteering at a fantastic organization in a gorgeous comfortable town in Ecuador, please write to me or contact Arte del Mundo directly. Jody and Bobby are amazing hosts and you could not pick a lovelier town to settle in and enjoy everyday life. It's so great you might forget about your 3 months a year "only" in Ecuador unless you extend your visa!