Post-Galápagos Catching Up

What we’ve been up to…

Beach Season

Beach Season

January marked the official start of the beach season here on the coast. This means lazy days of hanging out on the beach for kids who are now on vacation from school. We have come to appreciate how tranquilo the beach is normally since we have now witnessed how crowded it can get on holidays and sometimes on weekends. The start of the season also means the inauguration of the town’s annual beach soccer tournament. The youth foundation fielded a team but unfortunately, they did not make it to the play-offs.

Demuestra Tu Cultura!

“Demuestra Tu Cultura” Project

Thanks to a grant from Disney, we created a campaign called, “Demuestra Tu Cultura y No Botar Basura” (Show your culture and don’t litter). After a lot of hard work that included holding an educational outreach event, gathering hundreds of signatures from community members promising not to litter, designing and painting new trash cans for the beach, and making art from recycled materials, we finally placed the trash cans on the beach in time for the big crowds. It’s hard to believe that Palmar had no trash cans on the beach before this but now these re-purposed, re-painted oil tanks are being put to good use!

Mujeres Cambia Sales

Mujeres Cambia Milestone

Mujeres Cambia celebrated a big milestone in February – surpassing $10,000 in sales! A new website with full shopping cart functionality is in the works so look out for that soon. In addition, we’re in talks with the guys over at DesignedGood.com to feature our products on their site. We will also be offering some excellent deals on gifts in time for Mother’s Day so stay tuned (and “like” us on Facebook!).

Paul's Birthday

Paul’s Birthday

Another year, another cake in the face. Or so it goes in Ecuador. The tradition is to ask the birthday boy or girl (even adults) to take a little bite of the cake (as in blow out the candles and then lean down and put your mouth on the cake). Reminiscent of the wedding tradition to turn that bite into an opportunity for a face full of icing, when the birthday boy or girl leans down a friend comes up behind them and smashes their face into the cake. I don’t know how well this would go over in a germaphobe culture but it’s a fun tradition and we do as the Ecuadorians do! Paul had the chance to do this twice this year – once with the gang from Neo Juventud and the other with Mujeres Cambia.

Parachute Fun

Visitors Welcome

We’ve been hosting a lot of visitors lately. After returning from the Galápagos in January, a trip we took with **Frankie** and **Jess**, we have had fellow PCVs **Nikki**, **Cherith**, **Rich**, and **Evergreen** stop by as well as a group of medical student volunteers (see above) from Penn State College of Medicine. Next up are new friends we made at the Recycled Art Workshop we attended this month (see below).

Brigadistas

Brigadistas Class

The Brigadistas are what we call the group of around 30 elementary-aged kids who attend a class Paul and I co-teach on Saturdays at the Center for Art & Design. Often, our lessons incorporate arts & crafts and focus on the environment. The kids are super enthusiastic and are often waiting for us outside of the youth foundation before class even starts. That’s saying something when Hora Ecuatoriana usually means folks arrive at least 1/2 hour late to events.

Recycled Art Workshop

Recycled Art Workshop

Paul and I had the good fortune of attending a workshop on recycled art techniques at the Peace Corps Training Center in Quito. In addition to learning tons of exciting recycled art projects and making new friends, it was an opportunity for 4 members of Mujeres Cambia to travel and present at the workshop. **Gina**, **Noralma**, **Angélica**, and **Sara** did an incredible job presenting to the dozens of PC Volunteers and their counterparts in attendance. The women discussed the business behind Mujeres Cambia and also gave a lesson on how to make jewelry and origami boxes from magazine paper. We’re already teaching some new projects we learned at the workshop to the Brigadistas class and we may even roll out some new Mujeres Cambia products, as a result as well. Photos from the workshop coming soon!

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