This is just a quick update...I loved my work on the farm, but didnt get to help int he rural school, learned a few new facts and interesting cultural things, but mostly just learned a lot about myself. It was a great time for reflection.
Now, I am travelling around Ecuador in true tourist style so not getting a lot of the culture stuff. Its a wonderful country, the people are beautiful as is the land and everyone should come here.


Culture cont

Yet another installment on culture but this one is going to be short...
-Transport....I haven't yet mentioned the motorbikes, it is rare to see a helmet, it is rare to see just one person on one, and it would be more common to see a family - mum, dad and kids - all on one motorbike. I even saw one baby being bottle fed while riding over speedbumps on a motorbike.
Theres also the bicycles, they are the same, but usually this is a younger people thing and the guy will be riding and the girl perched on the bar just in front of the seat.
-Greetings...Of course theres the kiss on the cheek, sometimes 2 depending on the person. And they will shake hands if they think your a gringo not accustomed to Latin American ways.
-Rudeness...Blowing you nose in public or in the company of others is frowned upon. Burping is the ultimate no no! Farting is not common place but not a big no no. But spitting, although most people don't like it, they all do it, even my host grandma spits out the door of the car! And it doesn't matter who you are with or who else is around.
-Fiestas...I think I may have mentioned, but they are always important, and there is always cake, dancing and karaoke, even if there is only 6 people at the house as there was for my leaving party last night, and ron (rum) if adults are there.


School Refelction-Part 2

OK...So I have mentioned how we dont have a lot of equipment, this is what the kids who would otherwise need a wheelchair sit in at school and are carried to and from. I am not quite sure at what age someone can get a wheelchair, but Im sure its after you have stopped growing.
Actually, while Im on the topic of wheelchairs, I have been really annoyed by a kid whos begging on the street sitting in a wheelchair when he doesn't need one so people give him money. And the issue is that he either stole that wheelchair or bought it so he doesn't need the money people are giving him. Pity tactics for begging annoy me so much!
Yesterday was my last day at this school, and it was also childrens day in Ecuador so very interesting. In true Ecuador style the whole day was a party, the children are given gifts by parents and teachers, eat lots of cake and lollies and dance all morning, to Latin American music. It was great fun
We had 2 pinyatas but we didn't get to hit them down, it was run more like a lollie scramble....

This is the staff at the school and one of the students. Pick me out...I am the "gringo!" Heres a few pictures of school....
This is the biggest classroom for 6 year olds with the preschool next door.

This is the classroom for 6 of the students with disabilities.
I am glad I switched from the clinic to the school. The biggest thing I learnt here was...I definately think it is necessary to work alongside others when in a workplace of another culture because first I had to learn about the culture and what was an appropriate therapy activity and also it is a lot harder to build rapport as an outsider.
Initially the families of the children would not say a word to me and would look at me walking up the street as if they were thinking what on earth is she doing here, but by the end the kids and their parents would walk with me or always greet me walking down the street. I was walking the kids home from school and in the mornings they would wait for me to come past and walk with me to school.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at the school and I have learnt so much about the culture from doing it. The staff were super friendly and helped me learn both spanish and the culture.


School - Reflection P2

Today I had another cool day at school and I feel like I have made all the difference Im going to make, even if I stayed for another month. I have taught the staff a couple of tricks and ideas and they have really taken them onboard, particularly in the pre school where there are a number of kids with generally poor strength and for this they couldn't control a pencil well and resorted to other grips. In 2 weeks I have seen a change with these kids just from a few minutes a day. Its amazing what a small difference in daily routine can make, and I only had to explain what I thought once!

Im still working closely with one boy daily who is non verbal but uses makaton sign language without ever having been taught it... He has a motor control and planning difficulty but copes with it really well. He is 8 years old in the 5 and under class. I think he is a smart boy considering his disability but no one has ever had the time to sit down with him or know how to communicate with him. Hopefully I have helped with that a little. He appears to understand everything going on in class, completes all activities and just goes through the motions of completing the same tasks and practies daily, I would love to see him challenged. I have provided him (well the class) with a book with everyday requests in it, pictorial, not that I think he needs it because his signs are really clear, people just need to look at him for a second. But there are other kids that could use it too. Although I think he can use colours, days of the week, months and numbers to participate in class once he learns these on paper. I hope demonstrating that he can be understood has helped the other staff to understand him.

I have also corrected some seating and been continuing the daily buddy walking with one girl, she really enjoys being able to go outside with the other kids at recess instead of staying inside.

And I have demonstrated to a mother a safer technique for feeding her child, who for the first week and a bit I could hear aspirating several times at every meal, but needed to build rapor before I came barging in with my ideas.

I think if I was going to stay longer I would run a little social skills group for the 2 non verbal students who are quite intelligent but misunderstood and help them to communicate to others, but that would be hard to do with my spanish.

Loving the experience and hope others get the opportunity to try something so amazingly different.
Yes, I am leaving Manta at the end of the week to go to a more rural area and help in a school there for 2 weeks and learn about organic farming, more on that afterwards... Just another experience to write about.

Culture P2

For the last week I have really been noticing the little things, which I noticed initially and then got used too...
1. Police / Security guard...Are on every street corner, outside every major shopping area and all have massive shotguns slungs over their shoulders and stand with their fingers on the trigger. I keep expecting their finger to slip one day, but Im sure (or at least I hope) the safety catch is on.
2. Buses...$0.25 to anywhere on the bus route. The bus stops when you ask the driver to, and if you want to get on it will stop wherever you are on the bus route....ie. There are no bus stops. The buses all have bus attendants to collect money and every 5 minutes or so there is a check point where the attendant runs off to get his card stamped. Because of this, everyone is rushed on and off the bus, to make sure the bus is on time. The bus I catch to the city center has 2 different routes depending if anyone wants to go to the hospital, if you do you just have to tell the driver. Oh, and there is no back door for the buses.
3. Taxis...$1 during the day and $1.50 at night to anywhere within reason in the city. Outside the city or to the airport, just negotiate before you leave. Dont be surprised if they stop for petrol, and most will only put in $2-5 per time (and my host Mum is the same).
4. Cars and all transport...Tooting to ask if you want a ride, toot because they are checking you out, toot to tell you to move or toot because they want soemones attention in the house/shop. My host mum will happily sit outside a shop tooting until the shop attendant comes to the car door and brings here whatever she wants.
5. Time keeping...Whatever I said last time, I am going insane with the lack of timekeeping, I cannot get used to it! If I go anywhere with my host Mum we will drive around the city for a couple of hours, often not achieving anything, just driving around.
6. Hospitals / Rehab centers...As I said last time pay your own medicines, and buy them too. I have visited 2 new rehab centers, one is private (often paid by a persons work place) and the other is public ($2.50 per session). These are for both adults and children and both opened in the past year, before that there was only the rehab ward in the hospital, and i have been told they dont stay there for long. Generally people get in and out of hospital as fast as they can. Nobody can tell me what would happen for rehab if someone had a serious spinal injury or something, needing rehab (maybe they can help when I visit Guayquil, a bigger city).
Although there is great need for OT here I havent found any working in OT. The rehab centers as they are called are really physio clinics and one physio will see 3 or 5 people at once. They were both really nice and had all the equipment but the physios I met couldnt believe that our clinics would be multi-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary, or having multiple disciplines working there at all. The clinic I have been helping at, has PTs and SLTs. And I have been told there are 4 OT schools in Ecuador but that most OTs are working as physio assistants (it would be interesting for the WFOT to visit and see what the curriculum is at the OT schools, Ecuador is not registered as having an OT school, yet it has 4 of them, and the course is 5 years long. I am trying to get my hands on a curriculum but its harder than you would imagine). If anyone has any questions I have email contacts for several physios here that are happy to answer any questions people have, just post a comment and I will see what I can do.
7. Superstores (department stores)...Yes these exist and they function more or less the same as home, with discount cards and special deals...But the security requires all bags to be handed in to the security guard and you recieve a number in exchange.
8. Beaches...Most people will hire a beach chair with umbrella and sit on that, the fancier the chair the more it costs, up to $2 per day.
9. Dress...(And I have adopted this without realising). Girls dont wear board shorts, only mini shorts or skirts or jeans or trousers. They are always dressed up to the 9s and always look stunning. I put my boardies on the other day for the first time in 3 months and I felt disgusting and ugly, it was so funny what you become accustomed to wearing without even realising it.
10. Manta is cooling down and everyone is talking about the weather. Normaly at this time of year it is meant to be a little cooler with no rain, but it has cooled quickly and there is daily rain at the moment. We are now in the dry season and it is unheard of for this to happen!
11. Magazines....Fascinating article in the Ecuadorian womens magazine that I read, if you are not confident to say "te amor" (spanish for I love you) then say I love you in english because it holds less emotion! Ecuador is very romantic country in that sense. Other articles were about womens rights and equality and what foods to eat (advsing the same as western cultures despite the cultural differenc in food), and horoscopes, and lots of ads.
12. Birthdays....Are a BIG deal! Parties, fiestas, food and drink. We even had a celebration at school for a 3rd birthday that lasted most of the school day. My host Mum had 2 fiestas for her birthday and for some childrens birthdays their parents will publish something in the city newspaper (apparently normally their 15th but I saw this for a 12th birthday and a 13th birthday in todays newspaper).

Again that will do for now, anoth installment later. Keep those comments going, it is great to get the feedback and feel free to ask questions and I will see what I can answer, or if I cant answer I try to find out the answers.


Culture P1

A few points about culture....
1. School... is from 8-12.30 for young children and 7-12.30pm. Just have 1, 30 minute break in the middle of the day. And the curriculum is fascinating, reading and writing is not a priority, you start this at 5 or 6. Following rules / instruction, concepts, colours, social skills such as singing and dancing are important along with science and culture. School is a lot of copying and repetition, at preschool is colouring in, creativeness is not encouraged.
It was fascinating the first time I asked a 5 year old to draw me a person because she had no idea what to do (and it wasn't just her it was all the class following that experience), and decided just to draw circles, squares, rectangles and triangles on the paper. They are initiating drawing images for themself now but initially if I gave them a blank page they didnt know what to do.
I asked the teacher of the 8 year olds if they could write me a short story about their day and what they do in it, or a list or something and she couldn't understand why I would want that. Instead I was given cards from each of them, telling me about their families.
2. Time keeping... People generally will be on time to appointments and school but if you pass someone you know in the street (which if you live here you know everyone) then you have to stop and talk. If you say that you have to go to meet someone you are telling the other person that they are less important and that is a no no! I am getting used to this laid back approach but was slightly stressful when my host Mum offered to take me to work and we drove past the street to my school to run errands first, I only arrived at the school 15 minutes late the first time and 30 minutes late the second. You may ask, why did I do it twice, I thought the first was an accident and we left 20 minutes earlier the second day!
3. Driving...Minimal road rules, can't see a speed limit, pass where you want, toot at everything and everybody including intersections and most importantly don't wear a seatbelt!
4. Male dominance...where to start?..Well in the 25 minute walk to work the least number of toots greetings and wolf whistles I have counted is 20, normally a lot more. And usually in the first 10 minutes when I walk along the main road. But it is most disturbing when it is the car horn that are wolf whislting at you and it is a woman driver (I think she was making sure I didn't step on the road, or at least I hope so), not to mention the truck full of cops that stopped up ahead (I just crossed the road), or the volunteer fire service going to a call out - yes the car horns, most of them, have been changed to all sorts of noises including wolf whistles and sirens. I am trying to take all this as a compliment, even if Big Butts are hot here, I can see why Im winning! (Speaking of big butts, I broke the chair at the school the other day and fell out of another, now I've given up and just sit on the floor, Im just too tall for the furniture.) When all the osbscenities come I never know whether to look or not, smile or not, respond or not, mostly I just ignore it, but if they just greet me in spanish I normally politely respond.
In a discoteca (bar/nightclub where they play a badly mixed cross between 80s/90s/and now western music, with loatin american music, and everyone dances salsa style to EVERYTHING) if a guy asks you to dance - in the old fashioned style - you are expected to say yes, the problem lies that there is no chance to sit down because there is no break between songs and as good as I was at getting away in NZ I just cant seem to do it here.
Ingeneral (yes things are slowly changing) Girlfriends/wives are expected to be faithful while it is no surprise if a man is not. Women are not allowed to go out without their partner and for this reason they have women only parties at the houses where married or taken women can go. Men go out at all times and there is no expectation of information about their time out of the house to be shared with their wife.
5. Officials (police in particular)- many are dodgy and I wouldn't feel comfortable approaching them in the street for help. I would go to a shop, which usually have women and ask them for help.
6. Shops...Street shops are barred up and you stand at the entrance hollaring "buenas dias" until somebody comes from the house, they will then ask what you want and pass it through the bars in exchange for money. Of course this is not the case in malls.

That is enough for now, but in the next 2 weeks I am visiting other hospitals and clinics so will write something about the crazy health system soon! And I mean crazy...A small snippet, if you gp to the hospital and need medicine your family have to go out buy the medicines from the pharmacy with a prescription and bring them back to the hospital. Crazy!



I also want to say a quick thank you to those visitng my site and sharing the site with others. It is very exciting to see the world become so small.
Visit Pattis site also, she also has links to other OTs sites that you may be interested in from round the world. Patti's site is http://thejourneyhasonlybegun.blogspot.com/
Any questions or comments are welcome.