New sights, tastes, smells, and smiles!

Message for the Day: “All who wander are not lost.”

We started the day with a quick breakfast meeting and a taxi ride to Center 1 where Charlie and I stayed to work. Barb and Bob headed to Center 2 to prepare and purchase supplies for the tile project. Barb returned to Center 1 to work and Bob accomplished a great deal of trimming and weeding in the garden at Center 2.

I requested that we take the children out to the patio to play with balls. The tía in my group let us and the kids loved it! The boys particularly benefited from some running around. Sadly a few girls didn’t want to try playing and opted for sitting under a table. When the star on my soccer team kicked the ball over the fence, never to be seen again, we returned to our room.

The children are divided into groups by age. They start as young as five months and go until five years. Some of the tías’ own children come to work with them so I have a 6-year-old daughter in our group of four- and five-year-olds.

They are learning about the cycle of life. Since there aren’t photocopiers available, we have been tracing pictures of the life cycle of plants and chickens for the children to work with. Today they glued quinoa on the egg portion of the picture of a hatching chick.

The children follow lunch with a siesta. Since there is only so much space, they are lined up across the bed in a row. Siesta is our lunch time. We will eat at La Quinta every day and Charlie is laying odds that every meal will start with soup. So far, he’s two for two.

After lunch, we had a little time so we purchased a sweatshirt for Charlie and a new ball to replace the one that went missing in the morning soccer match. For a change of pace, we went to Center 2 and worked in the garden. The sun even made an appearance today so our walk over and back and the gardening was quite pleasant. Charlie had a bit of trouble because he tried coffee for the first, and possibly the last, time.

Walking to Center 2 is about a ten- to fifteen-minute walk through town. Center 2 feels more rural as it has outdoor space and abuts cornfields. Entering Center 1, however, one feels rather stealthy. It is hidden behind a barred gate in the outdoor food market, between two vegetable stalls. One must watch their step and head to safely arrive.

We finished our workday in Lily’s office with a game of ball with her 2-year-old daughter and met her 14-year-old son. Martín gathered us in his gray van in hopes of clear skies to ride the gondola up Pichincha. We were optimistic, but the closer we got, the darker the sky, until it finally opened up. As a consolation, we stopped at our favorite mall for lattes. With mixed feelings from the group, Martín decided to take us to the Old Town in Quito. Traffic was painfully slow, but we were able to see the beautiful streets lit at night.

As we visited a baroque church, the opulence of the interior, grand architecture, and the clear soprano left little impression for Charlie next to the excitement of detecting a potential pick-pocketer eyeing Bob. The streets were empty and the restaurants packed since Quito’s fútbol team was playing on TV. We heard rhythmic banging as we awaited our dinner. I thought it might be Barb locked in the baño, but upon further discovery, there was a folk dance performance outside. We were able to watch a few dances with traditional dress, moves, and music. We should have had another diploma for Bob as he tried (and enjoyed) goat!

On the way home, we had a quick stop at the main square for a photo shoot and view of the palace. We were able to see the basilica on our return as well.

It was a full day – full of new sights, tastes, smells, and smiles. I believe we are all enriched as a result and will sleep soundly. In face, everyone else already is so now it’s my turn. Good night!

Written by: Volunteer Mary

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