Liz and I...and Katie have arrived back in Pimampiro!! yes, back in Pimampiro and we have an apartment!!! we are super excited to have a place to live and stay for a little while, things seems to be falling into place. there is so much opportunity here! we have alot of options of programs and projects and and and. there is so much potential and these people want nothing more than to help us help them! you would not believe the faces of our friends here when we arrived two nights ago...they are all so happy and even more happy that we have returned to spend the Easter week with them. this is a very special time here where there are lots of parades and food and family time. of course, we are welcomed into every single home...i can only imagine the amount of food that we will consume over the next week. they make a soup called fanesca which includes all the grains that you can find and beans and squash and bananas and lima beans and cheese and and and. we partook in this soup today, and it was a-ma-zing! we will have it again in another community with another family tomorrow and im sure 1200 more times in the next few days.

Last night was a special event in Pimampiro that i am glad that we did not miss! they call it trueque (the night of exchanging literally) but it is a night where no money is involved. everyone comes from the communities all around (hours away) to exchange their goods, the people from the mountains come down and exchange the things that they grow up there and the people from the valley come up and sell their produce. its amazing! we decided that we were going to exhange sugar...of course if you know me thats what i would want to exchange...we bough 100 blocks of panela. panela is sugar cane that they press out the juice then boil it and make it into blocks, they package them in a pack of 100. we seperated them into bags of 4 and exhanged this sugar for everything from squash to tomatoes to potatoes. no money involved...and an amazing experience to see everyone out in the streets!

Let me tell you about our apartment!! its amazing!! it has three bedrooms and one bathroom with hot water (even though we have no water at all right now)!! and a big kitchen and living room! apparently there was a land slide sometime last week and knocked out the pipe that brings the water to Pimampiro and the town has been without water for quite sometime. luckily we had some yesterday and got to shower and this morning we were warned that we would have none for an undetermined amount of time so we filled everything that we could find and borrow with water! this too shall pass, its a small price to pay to have the privilege to live in this amazing town, in this amazing country, with these amazing people!

So, let me back track since it has once again been a million days since i wrote. we left Pimampiro with the intention of returning the first week of June, we were supposed to be in Lima now. but...life has a funny way of working things out exactly like they are supposed to be. just so happened that Katie and Paul (our guy from Pimampiro) flew into Guayaquil airport almost at the exact same time. Paul was headed to Lima for a few days and Katie was coming to work with us for a few weeks. i went to the airport with the driver in his tiny burgundy hatchback car that doesnt go over 40mph and barely fits 4 people to pick them up. as we are driving im telling katie that the plan is for us to head to Lima to work with the orphans and the kids in the schools but at the same time Paul is telling her all about Pimampiro. of course, she immediately was hooked on coming up here! Paul is a great saleman for this town! but...she is hooked as well!

While in Guayaquil we worked with MMRC and visited the clinics that they will be working with. while we were there, on our way to the bus station i was sitting in the front of the truck with our driver (Edisson) and typing a text message when all of a sudden my phone was no longer in my hands. we had stopped at a red light for a few seconds, my window was only half way down and a teenage boy grabbed the phone right out of my hands and ran away with it. he didnt touch my hands at all, he had amazing hand-eye coordination! i mean, i guess if someone had to steal something from me im glad that he was good at it! my purse was in my lap with money and my passport and camera and all of my important possessions...so i was thankful that only the phone was stolen. i have decided that Guayaquil has something against me, it is the only city in the entire world that i have had anything stolen in (knock on wood)or that i have been touched against my will. did i tell that story? im afraid that i didnt, i was never in danger BUT a teenage boy trying to sell cookies grabbed my butt while i was walking on the sidewalk! i told him i didnt want to buy his dag on cookies, which apparently he didnt care regardless and he grabbed my butt and Liz and I turned around so fast ready to chase him down but he ran so fast it was impossible! dont get scared...i have never felt in danger...

After leaving Guayaquil we headed 3 hours to the coast! the beach! i love the beach...the sand, the sun, the warmth! we arrived with a million things, remember that we left an entire suitcase of stuff in Guayaquil when we came up here the first time...so we had that plus katies stuff. we were backpackers PLUS! as we wonder the streets of Montañita to find a hostel, batteling the other backpackers, the hippies selling their goodies in the street, the dogs, and our biggest obstacle being the mounds of luggage...we finally found a hostel. cold water, bed bug infested beds, smelly, dusty....but we had a window looking at the ocean! that final thing allowed us to choose this, what most of you would say horrible place to enjoy our ¨vacation¨. its funny how little things make me happy! we had an amazing time! we took surf lessons and sat on the beach and drank coco y ron ( fresh coconut with coconut juice and sweetened condensed milk) and hung out with the locals! the coco y ron is a thing of my dreams...when i was here 4 years ago i remember sitting on the beach and drinking them in the same town in the same place...being back there after all these years of thinking about the fresh fruit and the beach was an amazing experience!

After 3 full days of beach we decided that Pimampiro was calling us...so we packed our bags, said goodbye to our new friends and our amazing beach view and headed to the highway. after standing on the north bound side of the road for a good 3o minutes the bus finally came, we threw on our stuff and jumped on. after a good 2 hours we changed buses again this time supposedly to Quito. this was supposed to be an 8 hour bus ride, well when midnight came and we were told to get off the bus on the corner and wait for another bus to Quito we were definitely confused. the good thing is that we had made friends with the guy who collects the money on the bus and the bus driver so they waited on the corner with us for more than an hour. during this hour they were stopping every bus asking them to take us to Quito and of course no one wanted to take us so they convinced us to go to Ambato with them. When i say convinced our choices were slim...we stand on the corner for who knows how long or we get back on the bus and go wherever it goes. another two hours, and two hours the wrong way we arrive at a hotel...we got door to door service at least. the bus driver helped us carry our stuff into the hotel and made sure all was well and then they left us...this was about 2am. this ¨hotel¨ left little to be desired...i chose the bed closest to the door since i was absolutely freezing and thought maybe it might be the warmest of the beds. we had traveled ALL DAY and changed buses 4 times and sweat to death and barely eaten (expect for some mystery meat and rice at a so called truck stop) and all we wanted were warm showers and a comfy bed. alot to ask for, i know...but it had been a long day.

Liz decided to suck it up and shower...the water was FREEZING and the air was freezing and the room was more freezing! while Liz was showering Katie and I decided to find as many clean clothes that we had to put on and hopefully get in bed and be warm-er. i thought id at least brush my teeth...no water in the sink (of course is water supposed to come out of the faucet?) so as Liz was showering i was spitting my toothpaste into the toilet and sharing her freezing water to brush my teeth and wash my face. this event led to a pool in the bathroom which ended up being a hazard for Katie in the morning without her shoes! oops! after this fiasco i jump into my bed only to land on a rock...most definitely the hardest thing i have ever called a bed. one single sheet with holes in it so i could see the patterns of the mattress with a single sheet and blanket on top. my pillow looked as if someone had swept the floor with it...black lines and dust on it...but at least it didnt have a giant foot print on it like Liz´s did! we shut off the lights quickly so that we didnt have to see what we were sleeping with and tried to sleep. apparently Katie couldnt sleep becuase her sheets kept coming off leaving her on some plastic cover thing and i was wimpering in my sleep because i was so freezing. Katie said that she was afraid that maybe i was freezing to death...i was curled in the tightest ball possible with lots of clothes on and i was still shaking and wimpering. i survived...

Now, remember we are in Ambato (yes Alessia we were in your hometown) which is 2 hours south of Quito which means we are about 6 hours south of Pimampiro...the last thing that we wanted to do was get back on a bus and ride for another 6 hours. our choices being slim once again we decided to hit up the nearest breakfast place and then head north. little did we know that breakfast would be such a hassle...we had two choices: desayuno completo (complete breakfast) or desayuno simple (simple breakfast). seems straight forward but when i asked the kid (he might have been 15 and his baby and baby momma were sitting in the restaurant too) he just mumbled so we figured we couldnt go wrong with the complete breakfast. usually this means eggs and break and cheese and coffee or tea, this time it did not mean that it meant rice and chicken and salad and fried plantains AND eggs and bread and cheese! no thank you in the morning! after we got breakfast straightened out we headed to the bus terminal to board yet another bus....it was a beautiful ride but longer than ever! it rained most of the way, there were twice as many people as there were seats to sit in, it was windy and bumpy but we survived once again. we arrived in Ibarra to be greeted by Paul...waiting for us! Amazing how he just so happened to be there when we would arrive. We loaded up our stuff and headed "home!" How amazing did it feel to know that we would be arriving back in Pimampiro and we would have a place to live! A place all to ourselves! Someone up there is watching out for us!

Apartments are hard to come by in this town...and the time that we asked this one was available! So much potential here...so much that can be done...so many people who need so much help and who appreciate the tiniest things that you and i take for granted every single day. for example today Paul called us at 9am and said that he was on his way with our refrigerator and with some people to help us at the house. we jumped out of bed and started cleaning the kitchen to make it ready for the people and the stuff. after they helped us and we got some things together we cooked up some eggs and boiled some water for coffee and tea and sat down in our new place with our friends!

i'm sure that i have mentioned Luis before, he is the president of one of the communities here and he weaves in the traditional pre-Colombian back-strap style and his work has been looked at by experts in the US and it is museum quality! amazing! He is an amazing person with so many talents and such a heart for the kids of his community! He has the dream of weaving and selling his products in the US...he makes everything from bags and purses to bedspreads! some time ago he was having severe back pain from sitting at the loom for so many hours weaving, so Paul was asking how his back was feeling and his response was as simple as "it depends on the day and if i have food to eat." Can you imagine if that was your only complaint in life? I could go on for days with the stories of these people here, they are amazing and resilient and happy. they love every day and smile constantly...they do not know what it is like to have any modern commodities...but they are happy! i can only hope that i someday can be as happy with so little...