Upon coming down to Ecuador the last thing I expected was to lend my voice to a new robot led museum that is opening up in a little town outside of Quito… However, I guess I should always expect the unexpected as I brought to life the character of “Jatun” an ex cotton gin machine that guides museum visitors through exhibits. My journey to stardom started with a text from my program coordinator who asked if I would be interested in helping her brother with a “project” that required a native English speaker. I have always been intrigued by the word “project” so I naturally said yes. A few nights later I got a call in Spanish saying “We are outside your house and are here to pick you up.” Naturally I wandered outside and was met by a man named Diego (my coordinators brother), we exchanged names and then he opened the back of his work trucks doors and ushered me inside. I sat on the floor of course as the front seat was filled by Diego and a co-worker, and we chatted during our five minute drive to his house where upon arrival we bid his co-worker adieu. Then we pulled into the dark garage and he said, “I’ll let you out in just a minute” and then shut the door. At this point I was wondering what I got myself into but thankfully he was no kind of ax murderer and let me out in a few minutes.
Inside his house we went to his office space which basically reminded me of my friend Derek’s room. Had all kinds of computers and technology and felt very familiar. Then he explained how he runs an advertising and computer graphics program in Quito and dealt with some very high end clients. For example the robots that his company had put together and programmed to guide tourists through this new museum were un-real and like something you would find in Hollywood. Must have been millions of dollars. He then told me my role and how the robots needed an English option for tours consisting of English speakers. So I was relegated to a homemade sound proof booth (a small phone booth sized box composed of four foam walls) and with his lap top, I read a script I had never seen before, in a voice that had to sound like an old robot. Too easy. Not. Turns out reading a script is pretty hard and to make it a little tougher, the script had commas and periods in the wrong places to go along with randomly capitalized words. But I pushed through the mistakes and feeling of claustrophobia that exuded from my “torture room” as he called it and after two hours read a good chunk of the lines. During this, his wife made me biscuits and pudding which was very alright with me. I did return the next night to finish off one more reading which I nailed perfectly the first time! Two pages of lines and I hit it perfect, too good to be true right? Right. There was a line in the script where I had to say, “Excuse my Spanish accent, like the owners of this factory I am from Spain.” After the reading Diego said, “that was really good, but have you ever heard of the movie ‘Shrek’?” Turns out he wanted me to read it all over again but with the voice of Puss and Boots done by Antonio Banderas. Alright I said and I threw out a deeper, scratchy version of my voice that in parts had a very legitimate Spanish accent. In other parts not so much. But he was happy with it and I was free to go. He was very thankful as the exhibit was opening the next day and the President of Ecuador was to be among the first to preview it.
The next day was Friday and I went to bed all excited to go work with the kids and take them swimming. However I woke up the next morning with an extremely sore throat and a super fever, not my favorite way to start a Friday. I figured it was only a matter of time till I got sick as the previous two weeks I had been coughed on and wiped enough runny noses to last a lifetime. It finally caught me, and it wasn’t a kind sickness. Friday and Saturday were spent lying in bed going back and forth between burning hot and the chills. Sunday brought a little relief but by Sunday night the game was back on and I woke up Monday unable to go to work. As Monday progressed my fever went away but was replaced by a searing headache as well my gum hurt really bad behind my molar. I took my Ibuprofen and made an effort to go to work Tuesday because I missed the kids but soon realized I was in no shape to be there and didn’t want to get them sick so I returned home after an hour. On my trip home I managed to seriously misjudge my step onto a moving bus and fell flat on the floor upon my entry. The bus was filled to the brim and I got quite a few laughs but I laughed it off myself and dreamed of my bed the whole way home. Once I got home I investigated the pain behind my molar and discovered I had a huge cut in my gum which was causing my searing headache. I was falling apart. After a Wednesday full of a false alarm for surgery on my mouth and gargling lots of salt water, I finally made my return back to work with the kids Thursday and had an absolute blast! I was the only volunteer there so I took three of them swimming, rocked feeding time, and doled out all kinds of attention. I have one week left at this jobsite and am going to miss these kids something awful.