Sunday, November 28, 2010

What Does the 2010 Census Look Like?

This morning we woke up to empty streets, no buses, no morning joggers, no taxis and an eerily quiet sound (except for the rushing river!). It’s Census Day 2010!

Every ten years, Ecuador enjoys the privilege of having everyone stay home from the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and wait for the census takers to collect their information. The census workers are not paid workers like the States, but hundreds of high school students (covering the urban areas) and teachers (covering the rural areas). In fact, this morning that was the scene on the sidewalks—ten or more students walking in groups with a supervising teacher in tow. This is a stark contrast to what a normal Sunday would look like: church bells ringing, a swoosh of cars, buses and taxis, and a steady stream of joggers along the river trail.

Of course, those in the medical field, emergency workers, police and security guards are all in their proper places. And, of course, those patients that are in the hospital will also stay put. Mocha heard that everyone has to stay in their "house," so he is also abiding by the rules!

Mark loaded up on movies and I have several writing projects to complete before we leave for the States, so we’re happy to have this time of quietness.

Last night we took about 30 minutes to fill out the census form which was in the newspaper (consisting of six pages and 71 questions – mas/menos!). The questions actually surprised us—unlike the US Census which is relatively short. These questions were more about housing conditions, water and garbage collection, and more personal questions pertaining to the use of computers, cell phones and level of education.

We now know why there are official census takers: one of the questions asked if we were able to read and write! There were more questions about our housing conditions, how many rooms we had, if we had running water and if our floors were made of dirt or if they were wood, ceramic or floating floors.
As a perfectionist (Type A personality) and slightly obsessive compulsive, I read into every question. For example, what do you do if half of your floors are ceramic and the other half are floating? That’s when Mark took over and checked both of the boxes!

We have all our materials on the dining room table: our cedulas, censo cards, passports, credit cards, bank information, health insurance cards, and—of course—our census form.

Since this is our first census, we feel like we’re ready, but then again—this is Ecuador and we’re ready for just about anything. For now, we’re enjoying the peaceful sounds of absolute stillness in this city of almost half a million. Because we won’t see the likes of this for another ten years, we count ourselves fortunate to be involved in this historic event!

Until Next Time...Hasta Luego!

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