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Students Heather Bell and Peggy Lucas (in hat) prepare a garden with new friends - photo courtesy of Peggy Lucas
Students Heather Bell and Peggy Lucas (in hat) prepare a garden with new friends - photo courtesy of Peggy Lucas

UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 9 | Sep. 12, 2006

Waiting on an Ecuadorian Roadside

In Ecuador, the sun rises every morning at 6 a.m., and sets every evening at 6 p.m. Since I’ve been here, I’ve found myself naturally following this dependable cycle, waking up with the sun every day. I also notice myself telling time by the sun, a remarkably easy feat on the equator. In a land where nature lends itself so readily to punctuality, you would imagine that the rest of the culture would follow suit; but in Ecuador, no one is ever on time.

Our group of six UBC students came to work with rural indigenous communities in the province of Bolívar and we are completing a stay in one of the more isolated communities. This community is a four-hour drive from the nearest town and a one-hour hike through the jungle to reach the road. After two weeks in this community — building garbage pits, fixing water pipes and offering workshops on nutrition, reproductive and sexual health, waste management, water purification, human rights, and more — and with only one week left of the project, we are ready to head home.

We awoke at 6 a.m. to pack up our belongings and supplies, load them onto the horses the community generously supplied for our trek, and hike down to the road to meet the car that was supposed to pick us up at 8 a.m. That was four hours ago.
By Ecuador standards this isn’t that long a wait, and anyway, we have been enjoying our last day here. Some members of the community are waiting with us, so we’re continuing the cultural exchange. We gave a short demonstration of hockey — complete with a fight and “jersey”ing — and they asked the perpetual question, “How many litres of milk does a cow produce in Canada?” (I really need to look that up when I get home). Around 11 a.m., we took a dip in the river, and I felt pretty grateful that the car hadn’t shown up quite yet.

An old man came and invited us to his porch to eat oranges. We decided that the car wasn’t going to show up, so we would wait for the bus instead, which we can do just as well from his house as here.

And, what do you know — just when I’ve had my fill of oranges, the bus comes rolling around the corner. I’m majoring in Latin American Studies, but I learned something today about Ecuador I never could in a classroom: everything happens right on time.

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From: Latin American Studies student Peggy Lucas
Province of Bolivar, Ecuador

Peggy Lucas, from Calgary, AB, is entering her fourth year studying English and Latin American Studies. For 10 weeks this summer, she and five other UBC students travelled to Ecuador to work with the Department of Indigenous Health to help increase community health in the areas of water treatment, health education, sustainable agriculture and first aid. The project was facilitated by UBC’s Global Outreach Student Association.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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