Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ecuador Part II and a little bit of everything

I am sorry it has been so long. So much has happened. It is now Sept. 7 and we got back from Ecuador on Aug 25th. A 5 min clip of the middle part of the trip is below. I will try to post the last material from Ecuador in a day or two. In the mean time we did another training out at a resort just about 1 hour outside of Bogota (of course it took an hour just to get out of Bogota so it took us a couple of hours to get there). It is a big water park with water slides and a wave pool. See the pictures below. In the off season (which it is now) and during the week it really quite inexpensive so the church brought in the financial employees from Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezeuela for a training on several things. We had about 2 1/2 hours to help them understand what we were teaching the stake audit committees and the auditors and have some dialog on how they could help us. Each country is a little different and the problems have to be handled differently. These people are the ones who know who is doing what so they have a lot of good material for us. On the other hand we are the ones getting all the questions in the trainings so we had good material for them also. Of course as usual we didn't have any time to play but I can tell you if we get a chance we will go back. It was a beautiful location.

The other big piece of news is that we finally got our bicylces. Oh what an experience that was!! Here in Bogota there are areas of the city that specialize in things. So if you need lamps you go to one area of the city and there are blocks of shops one right after another with lamps. If you need plumbing fixtures, same thing, you go to an area and there are maybe 20-30 shops with nothing but plumbing fixtures. All types all prices and they are all right together. We bought the printer we now have at an electronics area like that. The electronics one was a little different because all of the electronics shops were in one building that is 3 stories high and takes up a full square city block. There were multiple shops for computers and printers and laptops and PDA's and sterios and video equipment and camera equipment, and they were all right together in one building. We checked prices on the printer we got at about 6-7 different shops and took the best one.

This last week we went to one of two Bicycle centers for the city. It is about 3 blocks long with one bicycle shop after another. You can get anything and everything you want and they can even build a bicycle to your specifications right on the spot. There are probably 20 bicycle shops in this area. I had some pretty specific needs. Because of the pedestrian traffic that gets itself into the particular bike route that we will be using to go to work, I needed a bicycle that I can stop on a dime and get off of the seat and stand between the seat and the handle bars (stradling the bike but with both feet on the ground). I don't have time with the kind of traffic we are in to get my leg over the seat and completely dismount on one side. That presents a problem. I needed to have bike that fits my body (rather wide in the middle), I also wanted good Shimano parts, brakes, gears, and good tires (wide not skinny like our road bikes). We need wide tires for the rough parts of the road and for the handling. We were taken to the bike area by a wonderful guy who works with us but who has absolutely no understanding or knowledge about bicycles. I thought I was going to die as he tried to negotiate for a bicycle for me. My spanish is bad but the kid at the bike shop where we were shopping could tell that I knew what I wanted and the guy that was doing the talking didn't know much. I looked at him and he looked at me and we both rolled our eyes at the same time. At least Darwin and I got a look at where the place was. It was only a couple of miles from where we work. Walking is nothing in this city so we didn't buy anything on the first trip, but Darwin and I went back (walked there) on Wednesday of last week and met with the same kid again. He really did have a good selection and he and I matched up a frame for me and then we fitted it with good parts. The frame was cheap and so are the handle bars and I may have to replace them because the hand grips are a little short but over all it is good bike for what we are doing here -- basic transportation and some exploring on saturdays. Below are some shots of some of the bike shops we were in. We will get a shot of us on the bikes later. Getting Darwin a bike wasn't nearly as hard as getting me one because he doesn't have the body geometry problem that I do (what a nice way to say that he isn't obese). Our bikes cost us about $200.00 a piece- a little less I think.

They had to have a day to build my bike so we picked up our bikes on Thursday. Of course it had to be in a downpour. We live about 3 miles from work and the bike area was another 2 miles beyond where we work and not on a major bike route so we road for 5 miles in a a heavy rain. We were absolutely soaked when we got home, but happy as clams. We did our training out at the resort on Friday so didn't get to really ride for fun until yesterday. Below just above the Ecuador slide show are some shots of the park that we road in. It is a fairly small park as far as parks go in this city but it was beautiful out side and we took some shots of the facilities and activities. One of things that we have noticed down here is that people interact with each other and share open space in all the cities, big and little. There is a vitality here and joy in being together. The people here treat us like they love having us here. There is not hit of anti-american sentiment (we won't talk about Venesuela). They are patient with my stubling spanish and appreciate my efforts to learn their language. The are very helpful and want to help you learn but are willing to struggle along with you when there is a communication problem.

This is our bike route to work and to the park below which is about 7 blocks from our appartment. I took this shot because on most major streets there are no overhead electrical or phone or any other kinds of lines. (There are overhead lines on the smaller residential roads) All the wires go under ground on the major streets and there are openings in the pedestrian areas (that are usually about 15-25 feet across) where workman can get in to repair or install new cabling. Ithink this guy was waiting for his partner to pull cable to the next hole.
There are all kinds of classes in the parks. I think this was a ty che (no doubt misspelled) class. But there were other kinds of classes going on as well.

This was a workout station with all kinds of equipment and there were 2 personal trainers here working with people.
The bike paths are for all sizes and all styles of bikes
Below is a 5 min slide show of the middle part of our trip to Ecuador. There is more poverty in Ecuador than in Colombia. The latest statictics have Colombia with about 42 percent of its population in poverty. It is higher than that in Ecuador and definately higher in Bolivia. Peru and Chile have less poverty than other South American Countries. You can not really see that in most of Bogota that you have seen in our pictures although there are some real poverty areas they still usually have water and basics here in Bogota. Poverty has a much different definition than in the US. There is practically no one in the US who would meet the definition for poverty that is used in South America. You can see some of that in the housing in the slide show below. The houses on stilts made of cane are better than some of the people have. One of things that we have to work with our missionaries on, particularly in Bolivia but also here, is how not to get overwhelmed by their lack of abilty to do everything that needs to be done. They see children starving and families living in conditions that are impossible to describe and they do the best they can but the situation in some places is overwhelming. There is an article that I just read about how making things safer if not richer has helped with how much happiness people enjoy. Even with a great deal of poverty there is a joy that is hard to describe. I will try to add the link to the article later. Bye for now. Hope you enjoy. Drop us an email we would love to hear from you or leave a comment on the post. Just hit the comment button and it will take you to a place to leave a comment.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

Your blog is so interesting. How clever you are to know how to do one!!! Hope it can be saved on a disc somehow...