Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tulips and Snow in Summer

This is what my flowers looked like earlier in the week...but alas they have faded and the petals have fallen.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

An Ecuadorian Delicacy

Do you remember those furry little pets called guinea pigs that either you or your friends had growing up? Forget that image and enter the world of fine dining in Ecuador. Cuy! (There are plenty of images to browse on google of this fine feast) Above is my friend, Patty. She and I got into a discussion about these little animals after I saw a pen of them in the yard of a home in Paluga. She was surprised and amused to find out that in America we keep these animals as pets. They are commonly kept in pens in the yards of many homes in South America...just like you might find a pen of chickens in some yards in America. We don't think anything of someone going out and getting a chicken to make into a feast, do we? The same is true for the cuy in Ecuador. They are not named, talked to or cuddled. They are simply fed and eaten when the time is right. This has been going on in Ecuador for thousands of years. The Incas ate cuy. When the Spaniards conquered them in the 1500's, the tradition of fine dining didn't end there. Many of the indigenous people were converted to Catholicism. Early traditions die hard as shown in a painting of the last supper in a cathedral in Cuzco.

Nothing but the best for Jesus and his disciples at this last supper. It is interesting to note that there are other items at this feast that are native to the Andes Region of South America.
(I did not actually see this painting but had heard about it. Cuzco is actually in Peru. I found the painting with the help of the internet)
I had been warned about cuy before I left on my trip. It is a delicacy. It can be expensive and is often reserved for guests or special occasion only. Every year the mission team has been served this. This year was the first year that it was not served. I was actually a little disappointed. I wanted to be able to say that I had experienced this!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Las Escuelas

The chapel at Colegio Bethel...the closest thing they have to an auditorium.
I'm really in no position to say whether or not the education system in Ecuador is good or not, but I did notice some major differences between the schools that we saw there and the schools here. We take books and supplies for granted, and clean and well equipped school buildings with the latest technological resources. We also take the very clothing we wear for granted. I saw very few school supplies and almost no books at all at two of the schools we visited. We brought up pencils, crayons and some folders to give away to some of the students we met.
I took this picture while casually walking past the classroom. I didn't want to be a disturbance, but I forgot to turn off the flash and there was a collective reaction from them after I took it. (oops) I think it was a math class. Basically the classrooms are bare bones. Four walls, a write and wipe board, and rows of desks.
A window outside the classroom at the high school. Notice the pane of broken glass. I don't know how long it has been broken, but I doubt that it is a high priority to have it fixed.
The school was able to put together a computer lab using old donated parts of computers. They are very proud of their computer lab...and yes, they are wired to the internet. They are definitely very resourceful with what they have. Here in the states, we would probably dump most of these in a landfill. I do not recall seeing any textbooks at this school. I wish that I had asked one of the students there if they had any.
By contrast, the one room school house at el Tambo had quite a few textbooks and other shelves of resources. I am sure that the American couple that started the school has contacts of people in the states that make that possible.
Math work sheets at el Tambo school.
One preschool-kindergarten school we visited seemed to have a number of books too...I did not look closely, but at a glance I could tell that many were in poor shape and/or very old.
The students at Peniel Christian School line up at the school gate to say goodbye to us on our last day. School uniforms in Ecuador are a must and are not free. They must be paid for by the family. For some families this is very difficult. Sometimes this is made possible through child sponsorship.

I am not trying to pick on the schools of Ecuador that we visited. On the contrary, it is on my heart. I love books and education. That is why I want to work in a school library. I know that statistics show that when children read...even for pleasure, it makes their grades go up. I wish we could share some of our resources here. We have so much. I am actually praying about how to help. I recently found this organization and am wondering if it could help.