Ok, so pretty much everyone I talk to is totally and completely confused about where Nathan and I are actually going and what the plan is for the new year. So I thought I would just sort of summarize it here. Just be aware that these are the plans of the moment and are really due to change at any second.
So it looks like on Dec 29th we will be flying from Edmonton to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We are going to be staying there a few days, as its always been a dream of mine to go whale watching there. We are then going to fly down to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico which is in the very south. We are then going to head overland to Guatemala to attend language school in a small town, only reachable by boat. It's called San Pedro La Laguna and its right across Lago de Atitlan where my Dad and I went last time we were in Guatemala (and where i got horrible food poisoning... haha). We will be staying with a Mayan family that will teach us Spanish (oh, the irony... and slight bitter sadness). We are then going to head down through Central America, basically making up the trip as we go along. We will continue like that until near the end of January.
(are you still with me?? haha)
Then, from wherever we are in Central America at the end of January, we will be flying to Quito, Ecuador. We have both gotten internships, amazingly with the same organization! It's an NGO called Verde Milenio (www.verdemilenio.org) that does sustainable development and eco-everything. We are so excited about this!! I am going to be doing some office work for them for a couple weeks - updating their website, editing english, building a client database, etc. Nathan is going to be working with an Architect on a water sanitation project. So we will be living in the capital, Quito, for a couple weeks. We are leaning towards renting an apartment, but are thinking about living with a family as well.
THEN, Nate and I will be heading out to a tiny village called San Miguel, near the coast of Ecuador. Here, Nathan will be researching and implemented the water sanitation project (which I will also help with). And I will be doing some anthropology and ethnographic research, compiling data on the community, making some contacts, and hopefully doing some teaching. Because Verde Milenio hasn't done much community research in the area, Nate and I will be working very closely and helping with each others projects, since they are so interrelated. We are so excited for the opportunity to meld our engineering and anthropology skills! We will be back and forth between Quito and San Miguel for about three months.
San Miguel is an amazing place! It's right on the edge of a massive eco-reserve called Cotacachi-Cayapas, which is one of the top ten ecological hot spots in the world. They are currently trying to develop sustainable eco-tourist efforts that will help support their community, as well as the environment. To get to San Miguel, we have to take a bus almost all the way to Colombia, then follow along the border to the coast, then down to a town called Borbon. From Borbon, we take a canoe to San Miguel. There are no roads in and out. There are two distinct people groups in this area - the Afro-Ecuadorians and the Chachi Aboriginals. We will most likely be working with both, but our focus will be on the Afro-Ecuadorians (this is SO SO SO exciting, as I've always wanted to do fieldwork in this site). There will be little to no electricity, and very basic living conditions. We will probably be eating fish and shrimp for every meal (which Nathan is feeling pretty negative about haha). We will definitely not have any internet access, but we will be able to send updates whenever we are in Quito. I can't WAIT!!!
After the three months are up, there is talk of heading to Spain for a bit, and then to West Africa for a month. But this is so far from our minds at this point. It has taken us so long to come to this point with Ecuador, that we will worry about that later!
So that's where we are at. Today at least..... haha.