Arte del Mundo, the library, and Christmas in Ecuador
09.12.2009 - 05.01.2010
Arriving back in Banos was a great feeling. We checked into one of our favorite hostels, Chimenea but I was also on the hunt for an apartment as we would stay in this town for a while. We dropped by the Biblioteca or Arte del Mundo to introduce ourselves in person and we were welcomed as lovingly as reflected in Jody's email. What a great feeling to stop in a perfect little town and volunteer with cheerful and great organization doing to kind of work I believed in.
I would be the library person reading and helping the kids with their reading as well as cataloguing in the simplest style. Jordan and Ariel immediately loved Arte as they had a cute dog named Bibi and lots of arts and crafts to help with.
The existing group of volunteers were really friendly so again we were welcomed. On our second day in Banos we scored an apartment near Arte and town center, the landlord and wife seemed very kind although rather nosy.
The local kids were full of smiles and hugs for us and reading Spanish childrens books would surely help my ongoing learning. While in Bolivia I worried where we would spend Christmas and I didn't want it to be in a hostel amongst strangers. In Banos we had new friends from North America who understand our desire for a real turkey and jiggles Christmas. So our apartment hosted Christmas dinner for 13 people and it was wonderful. In Ecuador Christmas is not a big deal at all, the children receive a few gifts but that's it. No commercialism other than storefront decorations, I think these folks have the right idea as us North Americanos really need to calm down on the materialism of it all, and what's up with our stressed out running around like idiots for a month THING?
For Christmas Eve we had dinner with a local family, in fact, it was the family of our favorite juice lady, Marguerita, whom we met our first time in Banos. When we dropped our gear we were in need of some fruit and energy and we sought her out right away. Her family happened to visit her stand and we instantly had a wonderful Ecuadorian family to called friends. We took turns taking the kids out on weekends, as Marguerita had a eleven year old granddaughter whom Ariel befriended.
New Years was a completely different experience here. More celebrated than Christmas a very wild as they not only set off firecrackers throughout the day but also burn massive effigies in the form of favorite characters at midnight, then they dance until dawn in the streets. The fireworks display at midnight most be a healthy budget because it was outstanding. There are no rules, cars, drunk adults, children, crazy teenagers, firecrackers, 10 foot burning effigies and no one get hurt, no ones out-of-control, no burning buildings. How do they do it? In North America their would be a riot within a few hours, a burning building or two, and a knifing.
We had a terrific Christmas season and Jordan & Ariel were ecstatic to have hosted and helped organize the big dinner and other celebrations. Soon volunteers would leave and other would replace. Jordan enjoyed delving into his fascination with the Hindu religion with Kirti and I enjoyed questioning Craig on Ecuadorian politics as he was doing his PHD here. Jill Sare, another remarkable friend, agreed to teach me Spanish for a short time. She speaks, reads, and writes about 8 languages with a master in international education. Can you imagine?
Although our time was short, she was my best teacher throughout the trip.
On New Year day puffs of smoke began to appear from Mama Tungurahua, our resident volcano. She had been completely silent for several months. Would this activity be a little smoke or something more serious like in 1999 with full evacuations or semi evacuation and washed out bridges like in 2006?
As the old year wound down a special project at the Biblioteca was winding up. The Great Puppet Circus would be our big event in February during the grandest celebration in Ecuador of the year - Carnival.