Hometown: High Wycombe, England
Volunteer Date: January, 2010
Volunteer Duration: 3 Months
“Working with UBECI was one of the best experiences of my life. Monica, Byron, Danny and the whole crew were some of the most compassionate, genuine, fun and strong-willed people I have come across and working with them was a complete inspiration.
To future volunteers :
- I would recommend a good grasp of at least basic, conversational Spanish. People will help you out and give you encouragement – it seems that being lovely is just part of the culture in Quito! But you will find it so much easier to get by (and haggle!) and also have less of a ‘tourist’ experience- spending time and chatting with locals in their own language is a great way to immerse yourself in culture and meet new friends.
- Also, keep your valuables secreted on your person somehow. There’s a lot of serious poverty, and although everyone is great, there is a desperation for money- and you may have things taken from you if you obviously have valuables on you. Me and my travel buddy just kept change for the bus in our pockets and that’s really all you need during the daytime. Don’t obviously have a camera or nice phone on you etc..
- Also – for travelling to different cities on weekends etc, when you have all your possessions with you at once – bank cards in hair quiffs or rolled up trousers! passport in your clothes somewhere maybe? rather than in your bag. I kept my camera in a sock for disguise
- Keep your bag on your lap on buses, not on the overhead shelf or by your feet, or if you have to put it underneath the bus, make sure you have a receipt – and keep your essentials with you- like passport, money, phone, journal, memory cards, etc.
- I was worried that the children we would be working with would be difficult to talk to because they may have had very difficult lives so far, that I couldn’t even begin to comprehend. However, they were so welcoming and beautiful- there is really nothing to worry about in terms of the children and actually being at work in the markets or schools. The kids are a true inspiration and a kick in the perspective.
- Go to ‘Madd’ in Mariscal! Definately take the time to get down to some reggaeton. It’s so necessary.
- Get ‘oritos’ tiny bananas. Great snacks any time of the day. Cheap cheap if you’re on a tight budget like we were. And also if you’re on a budget, you get really large portions in cafes so ask to box half of it for an extra meal another time! pretty much everywhere will box food up for you. I was surprised. Even tiny, family-run cafes.
But all in all, Quito is amazing. Ecuador is awesome. UBECI is the greatest. And you need to go there!
I miss it all the time!