Week Three: Field work y el campo en Riobamba, Salinas, Pulinguí y Shogol

21 06 2011

Kids and dogs are everywhere.  The street dogs break your heart. The children, though, are so cute you want to steal them and take them home.  Although, if I’m being honest, I’ve wanted to take home a fair number of dogs, too.  Work in the field can be tiring- waking up at 5 am for our first campaign made for a long day.  Salinas was a cute mountain town whose market makes it a hub for surrounding comunities.  We took advantage of the market to solicit our campaign and the work of the entrepreneurs: free eye exams and low cost goods focused on the betterment of the community.  Our goal, the last mile.  We were welcomed into town by a threesome of dogs playing, and we left in the afternoon after having been followed around all day by one of them.  The day, an overall success, was an amazing experience that stretched our abilities to speak Spanish and gave us a snapshot of life in rural Ecuador.  Throughout the day, there was a continuous game of volleyball on which the men who were playing had bet money (meaning we weren’t allowed to join in).  We topped the day off with chocolate, one of the things the town is known for.

Wednesday we spent preparing for our charlas.  We spoke to two towns about both SWOT (or FODA, in Spanish) Analysis and Client Services.  I spent my afternoon on our first day of charlas with a very kind man, who was about half my height, doing everyday work.  I hoed, fed and watered cows, searched for lost pigs (which we eventually found and fed), and fed grass to the guinea pigs (which are definitely not pets here).  When it came time to give the charlas, we found ourselves in a room with about 40 kids and no adults.  We played a few rounds of duck duck goose before diving into SWOT.  Friday, we visited our second town to deliver the charla on client services.  This time, we played futbol.  After interviewing the local artisans, we took a break outside to photograph Chimboraza (volcano).  The children imediately asked if we wanted to play, and since they had a ball, soccer ensued.  During a short break, I scratched out a small map in the dirt while trying to explain what exactly ‘Estados Unidos’ is.  I’m not sure they understood, but they sure were cute, asking a hundred and one questions.
This weekend, we visited Baños to relax some before heading out to Palmar next week.  We rode horses, got massages and pedicures, shopped, and ate food.  It was amazing, even though the hot springs were a slight disappointment (they were basically warm, overcrowded public pools. So, we passed).
(Anne Kolesnikoff)
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