Once again my life is going in all kinds of directions at once! Natalia left tuesday morning after an awesome trip... we climbed a volcano, saw boobies, took an excessive amount of busses, had our run in with the police, met some amazing people, and gave natalia her very own despedida! I have so many excellent pictures from my fabulous new camera, which hopefully sometime in the next century i will have time to upload. It's lovely to be back in Quito in my own bed and such, except that we're moving tomorrow!!!! we finally started packing last night, and are checking out movers. we're just moving up the street, but we have to take all our furniture and fridge and oven and all, since in this country unfurnished REALLY means unfurnished. Other coming and goings: As soon as natalia left, becky finally came back after 6 (?) weeks in the states!! It was great to catch up with her and get her delivery of cheese curds and trashy celebrity magazines. And tomorrow, John is leaving! For his despedida tonight, we rented a chiva! That is, I rented a chiva because i am mostly unemployed and the chiva place is actually next to our house. (To refresh your memories, the chiva is a weird ecuadorian tradition... an open bus with a "banda del pueblo" playing traditional music while driving around quito drinking and hanging off the bus. Apparently it comes with two "coordinators", whose jobs are clearly to keep people from falling off.) Otherwise I am teaching a few classes, having dinner with adela's extended ecuadorian family, catching up with my choir, trying to get my security deposit back for once in my life, and planning my further travels! I definitely owe some of you email once things have calmed down a bit. I'm definitely thinking of you all, and good luck especially to everyone who is going back to school - students and teachers!
And about Tungurahua relief, I have talked to Gabriel who is in Quito right now, and he told me he is not actively coordinating any relief effort this time because the scale is so large, and because he is personally affected and has to deal with that. I've seen 3 places here collecting donations, two of which are the south american explorers club and the us embassy. the only local organization is my cell phone company, who sent me a text saying they will match my dollar donation. Especially with the anniversary of katrina, it's really sad to see the contrast between the responses of ecuador and the us. Criticize the government response in either case all you want, but in the US people really went above and beyond to collect donations. Here there just is no culture of charity, even in disasters. If you want to give money, the red cross is probably your best bet.