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Trip Start Mar 04, 2004
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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Travelogue October 11, 2004

Since September 16th . . .

I am back in San Vicente de Gulazhi after traveling for a considerable amount of time. I left my site on the 22nd of September and spent almost two weeks in Quito. We have a group of representatives in each region of the country that voice concerns from the volunteers to the Country Director every three months. The group is called the Volunteer Action Committee and I stood in for our representative at the last meeting while she was visiting the United States. The concerns here seem petty compared to the issues that were brought up in Haiti but, nonetheless, the Director thinks about each concern and comes up with a plan of action to address problems.

We have a new Director from Honduras. He has a much different approach to the management of Peace Corps - Ecuador and I support his style of management while many other volunteers do not. Change is change and I guess we have to roll with the tides!

After the VAC meeting, I had Reconnect. Reconnect is a chance for the volunteers to get together after 6 months in their sites and share their experiences with everyone else. The meeting included Spanish classes, technical lectures and a visit from the Ambassador. The Ambassador updated us on the current political situation here. Elections are coming up on the 16th of October. The current President is close to finishing his term. If he does, he would be the first president to do so in many years. I asked a member of my community which candidate she thought would win and she said the most handsome. I feel like she is not really concerned about the outcome.

After the Reconnect week I stayed a few more days to write for the Peace Corps - Ecuador newsletter, El Clima. I was dying to get back to my site and away from the razzle dazzle of the big city. On the 6th of October, I caught a ride with the Peace Corps nurses who came to my site to make sure my house is suitable for living. They commented on how cold it was and suggested that I should make changes to warm the place up. They gave me an electric heater but my outlets can't handle it. I am thinking about making a brick stove in one corner to heat things up but I have more or less adapted to the cold.

I spent some time with my closest volunteer neighbors last week and they want me to move to their community because there are a lot of opportunities to work with motivated people on their animal projects. At the meeting on Sunday the 10th of October in my community, no one showed up at 2pm but arrived around 4pm. I was a little upset to say the least so I told them about the opportunity to move to Jima and do some actual work. I do not know how they will react to this empty threat but at the time they were very concerned that I stay. I have been here 5 months now and none of the community projects that we have brainstormed have began. I am slightly frustrated. The president of the association passed a new rule that if a person misses a meeting without reason, then there will be a 0.50 cent fine. We will see if this encourages community participation or falls through the cracks like so many other good ideas.

Let me step back for a moment . . . I actually have an association to work with so I am a step ahead of many volunteers who cannot find anyone that will even listen to them in their communities. But, part of my work description is to work with the people of Jima. I feel that if there are five people in Jima that are anxious and want to get the ball rolling towards a better life then the chance to help them is more appealing than twisting the arm of 25 people who are complacent.

Anyway, I am enjoying my house, building my greenhouse, working with the school and going on long walks with Fran. I am happy but I feel like I could be doing a lot more. I will leave it to the people in my community to decide whether they want me here or not!

I posted some more pictures at this address:
http://homepage.mac.com/matthewkoerner/PhotoAlbum5.html
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