Picture's of Ecuador (click on link below)
itís just after 9:30 pm and I just finished dinner and am sitting here in my
room. The rest of my pals are down at the restaurant sharing stories. We have
only been here a couple of days and I already have an idea of what is in store.
We are staying at the Samawa Hotel just on the outskirts of
4 months ago a friend of mine told me that the YMCA was going to be coming down
to Ecuador to build a bunch of community houses and asked if I would be
interested. I told him that I would be but I would have to discuss it with my
wife first. My wife was not thrilled about the whole idea but agreed to let me
go and so here I am.
am down here with 11 people from the Surrey YMCA and 7
whole trip started back on October the 5th at the
One of the many warm welcomes on Site 2
drove to each one of the sites and received a warm welcome from the locals at
the 3 separate locations. The towns are some of the poorest in
only being on site for 10 minutes, he (Alistair) had us running all over the
place getting concrete and water, putting up blocks. From that moment on we
never stopped, and without question Alistair (YMCA organizer) brought the best
out of our group at site 3.
of the coolest things about this trip was all the wonderful gifts the volunteers
brought down here with them from
went back to our hotel and showered, ate dinner and then once again tried to
change the world with conversation, beer, wine and laughter.
days seemed to get harder and longer but also they became more and more
rewarding. We bonded with the handful of locals and kids who came out to help
each day. After school, kids would come by for lollipops and to play soccer or
play on the new constructed playgrounds.
those meals we went back to our hotel and yup, you guess it, tried to solve the
worldís problems with wine, beer and laughter.
would stop by the grocery store every other night on our way back from the job
site to buy food, beer and treats for the kids.
were never dull
and I can also tell
you that those first
the hardest I have ever worked in my life. The laughter and joking was always in
full force so the long days were always forgotten once we sat at the dinner
hotel had a hot tub and a swimming pool so a couple of nights we just went for a
swim and then into the hot tub. Actually the hot tub was never hot, it
was luke warm or freezing cold. The hotel would be like a 2 Ĺ - 3 star in North
America but I can assure you it was a 6 star in
stopped by the local fire hall and got some pictures and souvenirs
and that was a blast.
about five days of work we had the walls up, playgrounds in and now were doing
stucco and plaster. You could feel the energy between the community and the
volunteers as we could see the wonderful project was coming to life. I know I
speak for most when I say I felt very proud that I was a part of this project
and the difference it was going to make in these poor communities.
one downer about site 3 was that the massive outhouse crater (9
foot hole) that we had dug was
still sitting back there and some of the locals were now asking why we dug it.
We were told to dig it by someone but could not find the person who told us. The
locals told us they were nervous that one of the little kids might fall into the
hole and break their neck, and that made us nervous. We had used all that dirt
to fill the gardens and level the playground so we did not know what to do
or how to fill the hole. We
saw a spot down by the road that we could dig a ditch and thought we had better
fill this thing in before it kills someone. So after spending 2 days digging
this massive hole we were now spending half a day to fill it in. Whether is was
getting concrete, water, or moving dirt we were always timing each other or
involved in some kind of race against each other. We busted our butts and had
that crater filled in just over an hour but now we were getting dirty looks
because of the ditch that we had just been told was O.K. to dig. And on the last
day we ended up filling in the ditch from another because the locals did not
want any more ditches.
have to tell you at times I felt a tad frustrated because we were without
direction or told the wrong thing (I.E. Ė a 9 foot hole). I will also
tell you that
It did not matter because we fell in love with these locals and I enjoyed every
moment of everyday that I was with them. Even if it meant doing a dayís labour
for no reason, it is just the way things work down here.
concrete with my 2 best buddies
it all wrapped up and we presented our 3 Community houses I felt overwhelmed and
super proud of what we had accomplished. When I first came down here I was
worried we were not doing enough, but every day when you have people waiting for
you to arrive with hugs and running after the bus when you leave you feel
worthwhile. We came down here to do some feel good stuff for people who have so
much less than us, but in the end the folks of Santo Domingo left us with more
than we could have ever given them. Pride! Our hearts were heavy on our last day
and we all cried when we had to leave but many of us will most definitely be
coming back. I personally have never been involved in something that felt so
rewarding and I will tell you it is without a doubt one of the best things I
have ever done in my life.
1 hour after putting up the swing set
would also like to say something about the 18 folks who paid there own way and
volunteered 2 weeks of their life. We all came from different backgrounds (aside
from us firefighters) and we were side by side for 2 weeks without too much
bickering. You see Firefighters are a very strange, misunderstood breed and it
is something that the general public never sees. Being with and seeing the side
of firefighters off the job can be pretty intense. I was a little worried for
the first few days because the other volunteers were a little taken aback at all
of our joking. I canít speak for
everyone but I can say that I feel that even though we firefighters sometimes
were a tad irritating, most of the volunteers accepted us for who we were and
enjoyed being part of our childhood antics. I feel very fortunate to have been
part of this project and am very proud to be part of the YMCA and this group of
people. I will always remember what we did, the people we did it for, and most
importantly the people I was honored to do it with.
say a trip is about the people you meet and not the places you see, well I will
never forget any of them!
YMCA is in over 130 countries and is an incredible organization; I can say this
because I got to see how they are actually changing the world in a small way.
tell me who looks happier? The volunteers or the locals?
the sand Fleas
getting bitten by a possible rabid dog
the conditions these folks have to live in
on the feet
at your cuts only to notice they are full of flies or
* A 5x5, 9 foot deep hole
* A 5x5, 9 foot deep hole
Now that's a moth!
were passing out balls from our bus to buses passing by and this one poor kid
wanted a ball so bad but could not get his window open. Unfortunately for the
small boy our bus stared moving and we left his bus behind giving the balls to
other passengers. The funny thing was when that same bus passed us blocks later
and that poor kid was still shaking the window trying get it open as his bus
screamed past us at 60 miles an hour. Poor kid
* Midnight Beer, Wine and Laughter!
getting nailed at customs for forgetting his cell phone and getting roughed up.
legs after being bitten by a 1000 sand fleas
wanting red wine a Italian rest and waiting 3 hours hours for his meal
ordering a Grande pizza and getting a mini one
screaming at the waiting when he brought the bill
try to take a picture of an iguana only he took off when Roberto stepped on his
never ending bottle of (Bad) red wine
being asked to bend down by little girl so she could pop a pimple on his face
Hoagie and Serb bragging about how much sushi they were going to eat only to get
a little sampler plate they had to split. Ha!
Ian and John half way through the 9 foot mystery hole