I keep wishing I had my camera with me...

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I keep my camera at home because I am prone to losing things and so many times I have wished I had it with me so that I can share some of the seemingly crazy sights around Loja. I say seemingly because I believe that although it is bizarre to me, it is very much the norm here. I would really like to see a list of things that a Lojano would find weird about my home city of St Louis.

Anyhow- because I haven't been carrying my camera with me, you will have to imagine.

A list of ten things that I have seen here that I have never seen in my home city: (I will do another list later on because my list would go into the thousands...)

1. A truckload of soldiers exiting the back of a truck carrying machine guns (all just around the corner of my house). I have no idea what it was about but if I had to make a guess it would be that there is some kind of assembly at the stadium. My educated guess is based also on the fireworks and the loud raucous singing and chanting that is taking place right this second. (at 11 o'clock at night)

2. Fire works outside of July 4th. Loja must love to light up the sky and I think they take any excuse to celebrate with fireworks. I love to see them. Tonight they went off while I was working at El Sendero and the entire staff rushed out to the balcony to watch them. I guess they never get old.

3. People peeing in the street. Every day. In front of my house. I am tempted to put up a sign outside my door that says "BaƱo". At least then it would be official.

4. Children begging for food. St Louis has beggars and I kindly give when I am led, but children asking simply for a bite to eat is heartbreaking. I am grateful to be living in a country that has a huge resource of food that allows me to help those who don't have access to it.

5. Chickens. On the sidewalk. Fun!

6. Dog poop on the sidewalk. Not fun! Seriously, there is a huge dog problem in Loja- the main problem being that the dogs prefer sidewalks to grass.

7. People tearing up roads with pickaxes. There are not big tractors here and so they do it by hand. I am amazed everytime I see it. The people here work very hard and some have several jobs.

8. Mountains. Sometimes I round the corner and the scene catches me by surprise. Each day I see a new startlingly beautiful scene that reminds me that I worship the Creator of the universe.

9. Salchipapas. I am not sure I can do this justice without a picture. It is fried potatoes. With a hot dog like sausage split on the ends and then microwaves so that the edges curl up. Have you ever seen Octopus shaped hotdogs? If so, you are on the right track. This has a similar appearance, only it is served on potatoes. And it tastes gross. I mean *I think it tastes gross*. Ecuadorians order it by the kitchen-load.

10. Every school child dressed in uniform. My children go to the only school in Loja that does not require a uniform. Each school has a different uniform and the children look so smart and put together as they walk about town in their plaids, rompers, and athletic suits. I kinda wish my kids had a uniform.

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It's funny how even being on a different continent, our stories of Equador and Africa are so similar!!

Some GREAT advice I got in my first week in Africa is to take your camera everywhere and take as many pictures as I can. Take pictures of all the weird and different and humorous things. This girl, at the end of her term with SIM, said this because she said as time goes on, these different and funny and crazy things, seem more and more normal. You walk past those kids peeing and don't really notice. You eat those weird foods off the street, and actually learn to like them.. At that point, you don't think so much about taking the pictures.

When you get home and when you try to explain those fun and crazy things to everyone, it's a lot harder without the picture "evidence" and it helps with the remembering part...

I still love looking at my pictures of the motorcyclists with 100 live chickens attached or the telitubbie pools blown up and being sold on the side of the street.

Hope you're doing well. Thanks for sharing your adventures. My heart aches as I remember the wonderfully difficult times of the first weeks in Africa...

Blessings!