OK, how do I even begin to write this entry...let alone show my face again in public.
photo 1: This is Ushito and for some reason I found Ushito to be absolutely hysterical...and ironic. He is the mascot of the municipal government of Tena, and he´s supposed to be a leafcutter ant. Of course, leafcutter ants work very hard, sometimes consuming all of the foliage of an entire tree. Needless to say, despite his ubiquitous presence, the Tena government does NOT work like Ushito.
photo 2: Holger, playing a traditional Kichwa drum at Mama Paula´s house.
photo 3: Mama Paula!!!! She´s AMAZING. At the age of approximately 80, she still hikes into the jungle with her machete, barefoot, to her plot of ground where she grows yucca and plaintains. Here, she is singing for me in the traditional style of the Kichwas, with no musical accompaniment. Holger later translated her verses for me. WAY WAY WAY COOL!
photo 4: Rafael Correa holding a rather large boa constrictor. Rather witty actually...because shortly thereafter everyone began chanting ¨No boa, no¨ in opposition to his competitor, Alvaro Noboa.
photo 5: The Tena Association of Shamans performs a traditional cleansing ritual on Rafael Correa in order to ward off evil spirits which could potentially bring him harm.
So the presidential elections in Ecuador are going into a second round, since the top 2 candidates were very close. Later this month, Ecuadorians will return to the polls in order to elect one of them to the presidency. The first candidate is Alvaro Noboa, whom the United States government supports because he's fat, stupid, capitalistic, and wants to make the rich people richer while maintaining the rest of the population as impoverished banana pickers on his banana haciendas. Needless to say, he has screwed over his employees and his own family, in fact, in order to make his billion dollar fortune. Could turn out to be a puppet of the US government. The other candidate is Rafael Correa, a US and European-educated economist from a modest background who plans to nationalize the petroleum industry and funnel more of the profits toward socialistic programs under his plan "Socio Pais" in order to stimulate the economy and hopefully diminish the widespread poverty that afflicts this nation.
Correa came to speak in Tena one evening. He was supposed to arrive at 4pm, but actually didnt get there until 1130pm. Yeah. So, of course they start out the evening with scantily clad women singing and jiggling their boobies. We were bored out of our minds, sitting there with our rafael correa flags making fools of ourselves because they were giving out free boxed wine to the most enthusiastic supporters. Then the debauchery begins as "las mujeres sexy" get up on stage and start to sing...they were HORRIBLE. And we're waving our flags like idiots, half to make fun of them...and of course I'm the only white person there. And when they finish, they personally call me up to the stage to pick up a box of wine. I was so humiliated...but my friends were practically pushing me... It was so absolutely absurd...something that could only happen in the jungle. And the next morning, Holger and I were on national television...luckily WITHOUT the box of wine. Unreal. I can't believe I actually just shared that with all of you. ...OK, YOU CAN STOP LAUGHING NOW!!!11!1
I am now back in Quito, chilling on my last day here in Ecuador. It's really unfortunate that now that my Spanish has been rehabilitated I have to leave. But I may try to get some sort of volunteer position or something at a hospital here at some point as I try to desperately muster clinically relevant experience for my med school applications.
Pictures will be posted shortly, but I forgot my cd at the hostal, so yet again I disappoint. But 2 days ago, as I was saying goodbye to my pueblo, people began feeding me...over...and over...and over. I ate 5 meals that day...and drank a lot of chicha...which luckily wasnt fuerte, because I would have been on the floor after all that instead of on the bus to Quito. I have all kinds of fun stuff to bring home...including soap made in Talag from medicinal plants in the jungle. SOOOO...if you have any interest, please do feel free to get in touch with me. Also, for anyone who smokes or knows someone who does, I have these really cool woven packages of tobacco that Holger and company have grown in Talag with the support of the Peace Corps. They would make awesome gifts! ...that is, if customs officials don't seize them from me at the border. Wish me luck on that one.
Hmmmm... in other news, I have begun to take antihistamines for my mosquito bites, which at this point are so numerable that they resemble some exotic jungle disease moreso than mosquito bites...which freaks me out SLIGHTLY, but they're starting to go away. And I think that I have parasites...I won't go into details regarding the investigative methods I have used to arrive at this determination, but suffice it to say that I will need to de-parasitize myself after getting back to the US. Such is life.
Also, don't forget to stay tuned for part II of my international adventures, as I am heading to Egypt next week to visit my beloved friend Munia and also realize how little Arabic I actually know. Deep-throated gagging noises may have to suffice. Alright...off for now...but will post pictures soon. Chishi gama (hasta luego)!