Archive | April 2012

Santa Elena: Four More Faves

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Beach Clean-up

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Reflections: Week Three

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Our three month anniversary in-country just passed so I thought it was time for some reflection. This will be our third week in site and curiously it feels like we have been here for a lot longer. Maybe that is because Paul and I have been ill or maybe it is because life with limited access to internet and television seems to pass a lot slower. I would like to think it´s because the people here are already treating us like part of the community. It is a wonderful feeling to hear your name called out to you while walking down the street and to recognize a smiling face in the crowd.

It is also nice to hear that you are missed and worried about when you have to miss activities because of illness. That happened to me this past week when I was too sick to get out of bed and I could barely hold down food. Our host family was kind enough to bring food to our apartment and when I finally returned to their dinner table the other night my 11-year-old host sister ran up to me and gave me a huge hug and told me how much she had missed me.

Despite the minor set-back of being under the weather for a few days, we have actually been quite active already. We are told during Peace Corps Training to do a lot of listening and researching before we even think about starting any projects. Even the TEFL volunteers are supposed to be observing classes for a while before they jump in and co-teach. I imagine that like me and Paul, many newly minted volunteers are already doing their fare share of work. I have been teaching swimming classes, attending meetings of the women´s group Mujeres Cambia, gathering up business planning resources, cleaning oysters in the open sea, participating in a minga to clean up the beach, teaching origami, attending community bank meetings, and playing a lot of card games with our host family.

A few of the things I´m looking forward to doing soon are: teaching a youth leadership day, creating a brochure for Mujeres Cambia, designing a poster to commemorate the 9th anniversary of Neo Juventud, learning the names of the majority of students, and participating in the kite-making contest this weekend.

Our apartment is starting to feel like home. Paul and I haven´t had a permanent home in a while now so it has been nice to finally have a chance to nest. We have been painting the walls blue, green, and yellow in addition to adding some painted details like waves, grass, and this painted clock. I have finished the curtains for the guest room and I am almost done with the curtains in our bedroom. Paul has diligently done all of the electrical work at our place including making his own extension cords. I am truly impressed! I will post a video tour of a place soon so stay tuned.

Otherwise, life is good. We watch the sun go down over the horizon out of our bedroom picture window and we fall asleep to the sounds of the waves hitting the beach each night.  What could be better?

Enjoy, Mari

Mujeres Cambia

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I have the good fortune of filling some very big shoes in a town near our site. A RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – by one day!) **Jessica** worked with a women´s group at her site inspiring them to create beautiful pieces of jewelry out of magazine paper. They call themselves Mujeres Cambia (Women Change) and they are phenomenal.

Sure, I have done paper beads before but never like this. See the quality for yourself in the images below. I have just started with the group but I am already super proud of all of the progress they have made and I am excited to help take them to the next level. We are always taking orders so let me know if you are interested in purchasing any items as **Jessica** has some back home with her in the States now to sell.

Enjoy, Mari

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Santa Elena: First Four Faves

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How To: Paint a Wall Clock

You might recall from a past post that we wanted to paint a clock on our wall once we had one. Well, now that we have our own apartment (below our host family´s house) we have started to make it our own. Our first exciting project was painting this wall clock (the original idea came from ReadyMade magazine and Blik). In just a few easy steps you can have one in your house too.

Enjoy, Mari & Paul

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Step 1: Clean and Paint Wall

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Step 2: Make a Grid For the Design and Transfer to Wall

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Step 3: Draw Image in Wall Grid

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Step 4: Tape Outline of Design

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Step 5: Touch Up Outside Paint (Cover Gridlines)

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Step 6: Paint Inside the Design

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Step 7: Remove Tape and Touch Up

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Step : Hang Clock

The Santa Elena Index: Week I

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# of days in Santa Elena

7

# of days as official Peace Corps Volunteers

8

# of times we have gone swimming so far

4

# of dogs that bark at night

0

# of new host siblings

3

# of rooms in our apartment including the bathroom

4

Duration, in hours, of the bus ride from Quito to Guayaquil

8

Arrival time in Guayaquil

5:00am

Duration, in hours, of car ride from Guayaquil

2

Approximate distance, in feet, from our bedroom to the ocean

50

Percentage of the view from our bedroom window that includes ocean

100%

Time, in minutes, of walk from our house to our counterpart organization

10

Percentage of commuting time spent walking on the beach

95%

Cost of a bus to La Libertad

75¢

# of different paint colors used to paint our apartment

5

# of meters of fabric bought to make curtains, pillows, and a tablecloth

7

Percentage of meals that include seafood

75%

Percentage of meals that include rice

50%

# of stores visited to find a used refrigerator

4

# of stores that sold used refrigerators for less than the cost of a brand new one

0

# of electronics projects proposed by Paul

4

# of electronics projects that Paul has completed thus far

2

# of sewing projects proposed by Mari

3

# of sewing projects that Mari has completed thus far

0.5


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