Friday, December 17, 2010

Off to snow

Tonight I'm headed to Quito and in the morning I catch my flight to Cleveland. Crazy! Ecuador feels like a dream...

My students took their tests this week. Most did really well but some only come once or twice a week and utterly failed. But I have a policy of "I only teach it once." They know they have to get the notes from friends if they aren't there one day. If I taught everything again for everyone who didn't come I'd never be able to teach anything new.

Right now I'm off to have a holiday party with my students. We are going to make snowflakes, presents, and letters to santa. Should be fun!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Here are some pictures of my adventures around Ecuador. You should look at them by set because the order is very strange on the photostream. Enjoy!

Or here is a slideshow of some of my photos.

Random conversations with Ecuadorians

Here are some random conversations I've had recently:

  • A woman on the bus is sitting next to me. She asks me where I'm from and we start a conversation. She finds out I work at Cecami and she says she also works in the municipal with my bosses. She then says she doesn't like them and asks me if I want to go to the jungle with her. Nice to know my bosses are disliked by other people too.
  • I am waiting to get off the bus and a man lets me get in front of him as we are getting off. He then stops me and asks where I'm from (this is a common question seeing as my hair makes me stand out like a sore thumb). He then asks me if I want to go on a date with him because he wants to make gringa friends. I tell him no and he asks if I don't trust him. I say I have to go and for a few blocks he follows me telling me he is trustworthy and he just wants to go on a date.
  • I was talking to my host brother who has been dating his girlfriend for 5 years. I asked him if he was going to propose anytime soon and he laughed. He then asked about my sister and how long she had been with her boyfriend. I said a year and he asked if they were going to get married. He was genuinely shocked that they weren't getting married anytime soon. I tried to give him some explanation so I went with the fact that my sister is all for human rights and since homosexuals can't get married she sees that as a violation of rights. The whole family started laughing and telling me how homosexuals are disgusting and how they should never get married or be able to adopt children. I guess this is really the country where homosexuality was illegal until 10 years ago...
  • Apparently it was my host brother's birthday yesterday. No one told me. So at 10:30 pm I'm in my PJs ready for bed and they come and get me. Suddenly he house fills with 20 people and a cake and we all start singing. I felt so bad that I didn't know it was his birthday!
  • I was talking with an Ecuadorian boy who is about 18 years old. He was telling me how he wants to go to Israel to do volunteer work. I said that was awesome but he needed to be careful. He asked why. I said because there is a lot of hostility in Israel between the Palestinians and the Israelis. He had no idea about the conflict... He just thought it would be a cool place to go. When I mentioned Gaza and the West Bank he asked what those were. I don't think international politics are important here...
Yesterday I went to Otavalo again to pick up some last minute gifts. I love that market. There is so much there! Not to mention some killer pie for only $1.20 a slice. Yum!

Less than a week left before I can eat real non-rice food again!

PS: I'm trying to upload pictures. Hopefully they will upload soon.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Teaching English is hard!

Side note: my host brother apparently won his school band concert! Cool!

Teaching English is hard! I want to teach my students the rules but for every rule there is an exception. Example:

Last week I taught them the simple past (add -ed). Then this week we talked about the past progressive tense. My grammar book explains the past progressive as being when two actions occur and one takes longer. "While I was cooking, the phone rang." When I explained it this way they understood.

Then we did a writing activity and one of them wrote, "While the adults were talking, the kids played." And I realized, wait, the past progressive can be used twice. So then I tried to explain the past progressive being for actions that take a longish time. And I said in most cases they can choose whether or not to use the past progressive or the simple past because both can be right.

This was okay with them but not quite clear. So I tried to explain that it is best to use the past progressive if there are two or more actions. It is not normal to use it with only one action. This made it a little better for them. But, I know it isn't true. You can totally say, "Remember, we were talking about that yesterday."

My students are super patient with me, which is great. But a lot of the time I just think I'm confusing them. But I'm confused too. There are so many darn exceptions! So if you have the perfect way to teach the difference between the simple past and the past progressive, please let me know!

In my other class we did parts of the body today. It was adorable watching them do "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" as fast as they could. They got so into it that some almost fell over.

I had another weird food today. Peas, carrots, and cauliflower, covered in cream cheese. Disgusting. I encourage you never to make it or try it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Classic culture

Here is a short example of what I mean by Ecuadorian culture:

I had called my friend in Quito on Saturday and we planned to meet on Sunday. He was in a different city at the time but was getting on a bus to come back. On Sunday I went to his apartment at about 10am and there was no answer. His cell phone was off and he wasn't answering his home phone. I wasn't worried yet, but then after about 6 hours of him still not answering his phone I started to get a little worried. I ended up just taking a bus back to Ibarra.

The next day I tried calling him again and still his cell was off and he wasn't answering his home phone. I know bus crashes at night are pretty common so I started to look through the newspapers to see if there was one. There wasn't. So then I was just confused on what happened.

Around 1pm that day I called and his cell phone finally went through. The story: his bus broke down on the way to Quito and they couldn't get another direct bus. So they slept at the terminal, took a bus the next day to a big city called Riobamba and decided to go fishing since they were there. His cell phone just happened to be dead and he didn't want to stop somewhere for 5 minutes to plug it in and call me because that would be inconvenient.

But here is the really crazy part for me: he still has no idea that he should have called/emailed/something since we had plans and I couldn't get a hold of him for over 30 hours. Things like this have happened with other Ecuadorians too. It's really true that if they don't have anything to say to you they aren't going to talk, no matter how much you need to talk to them.

And a lot of WorldTeach volunteers are starting to pick up on this habit. They lose their phones or just simply don't call back. I think this might be my biggest annoyance with Ecuadorian culture so far. There is just such a lack of respect for communication. Drives me nuts! But it's their culture and I can't fight it.

On a side note: I did a class on clothing for my basics the other day. I played them the song "Red High Heels" (country song) and they loved it. They said they really liked country music and want me to play more of it. And they like when I talk in a southern accent. Crazy kids! But it was pretty hilarious watching them sing "Red High Heels" in an Ecua-Southern accent.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Parties in Ecuador

So here is what I've noticed about parties in Ecuador- really it's just more people out and about and maybe a few extra activities. I went to Quito this weekend for Fiestas de Quito which are celebrated in honor of the Quito Independence day, December 6th. A lot of the festivities are focused around bull fighting (which I don't have an interest in seeing) and concerts. My friend Claire and I went to the historic center and walked around. I was surprised at how little celebration there was. But at night we went to the Mariscal and saw a cool concert. And now it's Sunday and the city is pretty much dead. All in all, not a very eventful weekend in Quito.

This week was low key too. My students learned present progressive in one class and simple past in the other. I do like these groups of students much more than I like my last ones. I'll be sad to leave them in February when I move to Ambato.

I read today that last night the volcano in Banos erupted. Uh oh, that's where Kaytee, Max, and I want to go. But apparently it only erupts once every 2 years or so and it's never really a bad eruption. So things should be fine. They've even already downgraded the threat level.

Happy December, everyone!

Monday, November 29, 2010

One of those days...

So today has been one of those days. It was great until I came back to Ibarra. I woke up this morning and actually ate a bagel (like a real one, there is a place in Quito that has them). And then I took the bus back to Ibarra. When I got here I realized the internet was down and I needed it to prepare for my lesson today. Then I noticed my notebook was gone. This notebook has my life in it. All of my lessons and all of my Spanish notes. And after that I was making copies and ran into the girl who has now decided to hate me for no reason. Thankfully, I found the notebook and I´m sure the rest will work itself out.

This weekend was a lot of fun. I had Thanksgiving dinner at my director´s house. We had all the traditional Thanksgiving things, minus what is impossible to find in Ecuador (pumpkin pie and cranberries). I even ate the turkey. Then on Sunday Claire and I sat around and watched TV shows and then went to see Harry Potter. It´s super intense!

I realized I forgot to write about helping out at a spelling bee. An all boys school asked Shari and I to judge a spelling bee. It was actually really hard to do because they make a lot of mistakes with pronouncing the letters. So here I was, it was the final word of the spelling bee and I asked a boy to repeat his spelling. He ended up getting it right and I was about to announce him the winner... Until the father of another boy said it was unfair to do repeats and that his son should have won. So then we had to do another like 10 rounds and eventually call it a tie. I felt so bad! The boy clearly won! But the principal told me the dads were about to get in a fight so I wasn´t about to argue with that.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


So here is what I ate today:
Breakfast: rice and beans
Lunch: noodles and potato soup
Thanksgiving with my classes: Crackers, chips, and candy
Dinner: rice, french fries, and an egg
... a very ecua-thanksgiving (full of carbs)

Thanksgiving with my classes was really fun. They made turkey hands and wrote down what they were thankful for. A lot of them said they were thankful for me being their teacher (so sweet!). We also talked about the story behind Thanksgiving and they watched an episode of Friends about Thanksgiving. Then we sat down at a big table and ate and talked. This might have been one of my best Thanksgivings yet because I got to share the joy of the holiday with people who knew nothing about it. :)


Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

So as of now I have 4 students in my intermediate class and 11 in my basic class. It is getting better but still definitely not where it needs to be. Because of that, at my site visit this week, we told the director of CECAMI that I will not be coming back. So right now it is about 80% that I'm moving and 20% that I'll go to SECAP. Either way, I will definitely not be at CECAMI anymore. Darn...

This weekend was a lot of fun. I spent a good amount of time with my family because a niece from the jungle was in town. She is 20 years old and super nice. I went to Otavalo and stocked up on Christmas presents. And I went to a concert and looked at some wood designers. I also got to see my family's new store for selling clothes from catalogs and eat at this awesome coastanian food restaurant.

Then Monday was my site visit. Steph (the assistant director of WorldTeach) came and observed my class and met with my family. She said that I was a good teacher and that my students like me. Awesome. Now if I could just have more students...

Natasha has been sick all week and CECAMI keeps asking me to cover her 3-4 class. I said yes one day because I had time. But yesterday Natasha asked if I could do it again and I didn't have time. She conveniently forgot to tell the office this and so they thought I was coming. They called me at 3:10 asking where I was. Not so professional on her part...

Today I'm having a Thanksgiving party in my classes. We are going to make turkey hands and eat food and watch episodes of Friends about Thanksgiving. It should be fun!

Then this weekend I am going to Quito to celebrate Thanksgiving with some WorldTeach people. I'm making brownies. I tried making them yesterday for the Thanksgiving parties in my classes and they turned out well. The high altitude directions really come in handy here. On Sunday I have to stay in Quito all day because it is the census. In Ecuador everyone has to stay in their homes for an entire day and absolutely nothing is open. Then high school students come around and perform the census. Should be interesting!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Three randoms for the day:

  1. I looked at Itunes the other day and realized I didn't know a single one of the top songs. I have no idea what is happening with American radio.
  2. My family put boiled potatoes in purple liquid an added cloves and cinnamon. Then they asked me to eat one of the potatoes. I almost choked it was so disgusting. My host dad loves it and says it is "muy rico!"
  3. There are ice cream carts here. But there are no ice cream trucks that make noise. Instead there are propane trucks that play the ice cream truck music. They play the music and drive around streets with propane tanks. So weird!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Going Home

Today I bought a ticket to go to Cleveland for Christmas! I'm excited! And it's a good thing because I found out today my family is going to Santo Domingo (not my favorite place) for Christmas.

So last week I went to Cuicocha with a few friends. It is this beautiful crater lake near a town called Cotacachi, which is known for leather goods. I'll definitely have to take anyone who visits me to Cotacachi. Cuicocha is cool but I'd rather go see Quilotoa (a much bigger and prettier crater lake). Hopefully my sister, max, and I can go there.

Then I headed to Quito for the weekend. On Friday I caught up with some WorldTeach friends. We all seem to be having a good time and having similar experiences. We all have a hard time making friends with locals and miss a lot about the United States. I also had a meeting with Kate about Ambato and SECAP. Ambato seems to really want me to move there. Maybe it could be a good thing for me. It's a lot more central which means I could see more of Ecuador. And it is a bigger city so I could meet more people. Perhaps Ibarra is getting to small for me. I will keep you updated on any news about me moving. I also played a very long game of monopoly on Friday night and lost after 4 hours. Sad game. But I did find an Ecuadorian Monopoly! It's $30 but I'm thinking it's worth it.

On Saturday I went out for Kate's Birthday in a Chiva. It is a large bus/truck combination with no seats and a dance floor. You drive around the city drinking canelazo (the hot drink with a special alcohol) and dance. It was so much fun! Then we went out to other clubs to dance some more.

On Monday I had my first classes of the new module. I had 8 in my basic class and 0 in my intermediate. On Tuesday I had 11 in my basic and 1 (who showed up 45 minutes late) in my intermediate. And today I had 9 in my basic and 2 in my intermediate (one still showed up 45 minutes late). This is why I need to leave Cecami. I have NO students! I came here to teach... not to putz around and hope I have students.

Tomorrow Shari and I are going to judge an English spelling bee at a high school. I'm excited! But spanish speakers always mess up P, B, and V. I hope I don't kick a kid out of the competition because I heard him/her wrong!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Things I have noticed about Ecuador

So here I am, almost 3 months into my trip. Here are a few things that I´ve noticed about Ecuadorian life:

  1. you can add -ita or -ito to any word. Sarita, aguita, perito, empanita. Sometimes I feel like I have no idea what anyone is saying until I take off the ita or ito and realize that it´s actually a word.
  2. They only drink juice and coffee and sometimes tea. I spend a ton of my money just buying bottled water because I have no idea how they stay hydrated drinking only juice and a little coffee or tea.
  3. They eat rice everyday. EVERYDAY.
  4. You can also add -que in front of any word. Que chevere, que bestia, que frio, que pena. It takes awhile to figure out what these phrases actually mean. Like que bestia literally translates to that beast. However in Ecuadorian spanish it means both awesome and sucky.
  5. You ride buses a lot. I have never riden a bus so much.
  6. Ecuadorians take the nature around them for granted. To me everything is breathtakingly gorgeous but to them it´s okay because they´ve seen it all their lives.
  7. Communication is a challenge. They only call you back if they have something to say to you. It doesn´t matter how badly you need to talk to them.
  8. The weather really does never change. Sometimes it rains and sometimes it is sunny but beyond that it is the same temperature and same number of daylight hours all year.
That´s all for now because I´m out of time. Write again soon!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

banos, moving, and santo domingo.

Santo Domingo: Very ugly. The people speak Spanish super fast and I don´t understand much of it. Other than that the trip was cool. I ate terrible food and got to see the day of the dead. (They served me fish and ceviche for breakfast, haha). All in all I´m glad I don´t live on the coast but it was nice to travel with my family. They are crazy! I never knew what was coming next or where I would be sleeping. And I saw the smallest dog I have ever seen. It weighed about 3lbs and was a chiuahua. So small and named Princessa. (Dad you would have hated her, she yapped).

Baños: Super fun! I went horseback riding, to hot springs, up a volcano, ate great food, saw waterfalls, and had a massage. Activities, transportation, lodging, and food all for about $130! Can´t beat that! It was also great to see everyone that I hadn´t seen in a long time.

Moving: Cecami is still being stupid. SECAP said they can only take one volunteer and Natasha will likely take that spot. I don´t want to stay with CECAMI so I might be moving to Ambato. If Natasha doesn´t take the spot at SECAP then I will probably go there. I´ll keep you upadated. Ambato is nice and in a great location (2 hours south of Quito) and there are a few other volunteers there. It wouldn´t be the end of the world but I´d be super sad to leave Ibarra. Stupid CECAMI...

This week is my vacation. CECAMI is making us pass out more flyers tomorrow in hopes of getting more students. Then Thursday I´m hoping to go somewhere with Shari for a day trip. Then Thursday night through Sunday I will be in Quito for Kate´s birthday! Then Monday I´m back at CECAMI...

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I'm headed to baños for the weekend with a bunch of other volunteers! It's a gringo town with lots of hot springs, hiking, waterfalls, and mountains. It also has international food so I might not be eating rice for 3 whole days!!!!

run in with the police (sorry kaytee it´s another scary title)

yes, i had a run in with the police today. here is the story:

natasha (another volunteer here) woke up this morning and her host mom told her she was kicked out of the house. she has lived with this lady for 9 months and today she decided to kick her out. natasha packed her things and then met me for coffee to talk before she was going to move in with the other family. she asked me to help her move her things and i said of course. so i´m waiting with the taxi while she is inside getting her things and she comes out and tells me her host mom is throwing things at her and being agressive. i decide to ask the lady if natasha can have her things and we can go and she starts yelling at me and slams the door in our faces. then the maid comes out and tries to talk to us and the 4 of us are trying to talk but then the host mom gets mad and slams the door in all of our faces. (she didn´t want natasha to get her stuff because natasha needed to pay her the rent but natasha didn´t have the money at that point and her host mom was holding her credit cards hostage). so her host mom called the police because the maid, natasha, and i wouldn´t leave her house. the police came and talked to the mom and natasha and basically said ¨why am i here?¨ he told natasha to take some of her things and then come back with the money and get the rest of her things. the mom then decided to tell him that i was trespassing and being agressive to her. luckily he said he didn´t care and the whole situation was stupid.

... this is a crazy country. now my poor friend is kicked out of her house and she has to overpay in order to get her things back...

i´ll post about santo domingo later.

Monday, November 1, 2010

more kidnapping

i'm headed to santo domingo for 2 days with my family. they told me 5 minutes ago. we are leaving in 5 minutes. ohhh ecuador....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Ecuador-ness

On Wednesday I wrote my tests for my classes and then gave them their oral tests. They did very well and I was proud of them. Then on Thursday they had their written tests and most did really well. There were two students who hadn't paid attention the whole module so they failed miserably but only one other girl didn't try hard enough and failed. So in a basic one class I passed 15 our of 18 students, I'd say that's pretty good :).

On Thursday I also had lunch with Shari, Natasha, and one of Shari's students and friends. We decided to grill him about the myth we heard that all boys lose their virginity at a brothel. He said that's not true because it's about $50 at a brothel. I was shocked that it was so much! In a way I'm happy it costs so much but I'm still shocked. He said it's just part of the culture here to go to them and that we can assume every boy (father, brother, etc) has gone and goes regularly. (Side note: there is a big difference between going to the brothel "for the shows" and having sex. Most guys just go for the $5 show).

Then on Friday I had class and we watched Kung Fu Panda. I didn't realize that the DVD was only in Spanish so the students got to watch a movie in their native language. Oh well, it was more of a lesson for me than them I guess. But that is one of the risks you take buying $1.50 movies here. You have to buy them from a place that lets you watch them first to make sure they are in English.

Then that night a couple of us went out to get some Shawarma and hookah. I you have never had Shawarma, you need to! It is the best Indian food ever!

On Saturday was the Casaria del Zorro. It's supposed to be a parade and a race to see who will be "zorro" for next year. We couldn't figure out from anyone when the parade was starting and so we guessed based on the other parades we've been to. We got to the bleachers at 9 and ended up waiting until 11:30 for it to begin! After 2.5 hours of waiting the parade ended up only being about 20 minutes long. It was just the contestants and some other guys on horses. We all decided that no matter what we do, everything turns out to have ecua-ness to it. Who waits 2.5 hours for a 20 minute parade? Then we went to lunch with a whole bunch of people and watched a concert. It was a lot of fun. After, we were walking down the street and some guy was laughing at us. We figured he was laughing because he could understand us but he wouldn't admit to it. Later that night we went to a dance club called Acropolis to celebrate the Casaria and the guy ended up being there. He came over and confessed that he understood our entire conversation. He was super nice and I think if we are in Quito we might try and hang out with him.

It's interesting how easy it is to make friends with anyone who speaks English here. I think this is because the people who seriously learn English have a modern idea of life. They want to learn English because it will help them with business and connect to the rest of the world. This means that they are usually between 20-30 and have some interesting job I've noticed. And they are usually dying to speak English so they are really friendly.

Today I'm taking the day off. I'm sad because it's Halloween and I like to celebrate Halloween. But it's Sunday and no one here celebrates it. I also have a break Monday-Wednesday this week because of more holidays. I have no idea what I'm going to do for those days because I'm kinda broke because I spent a lot of money yesterday. Maybe I'll go to some hot springs. Or maybe I'll just relax. Then Thursday is my last day of teaching and Friday we're headed to Banos to see some of our other WorldTeach friends for the break.

Love you and miss you!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My first real non-American day

When I first found out about WorldTeach I wanted to go to the South Pacific... until I read that the islands have no running water or electricity. I picked Ecuador because I would be living in an urban area with people my age and all the necessities I need (like water).

On Sunday morning I woke up and realized there was no water or electricity. I walked downstairs and asked my host dad what was going on. He said there wouldn´t be any of that for the whole day. I started to panic because I knew I had a ton of work to do and I didn´t have any way to charge my computer or get on the internet.

I started to walk down the street to see if maybe a place had a generator. When I got back my host dad laughed at me and said the only place with a generator was Supermaxi. I guess I forgot this is Ecuador... So then I think I´ll go to Supermaxi but it is a 30 minute walk away so I needed a taxi. I asked my host dad and he said there weren´t any taxis either because of the strike. So there I was, stuck with no water, electricity, or way to do my work. I tried to explain to him that being so attatched to that stuff is a symptom of being from the United States. He said the last girl who lived with them was the exact same.

So then he got the whole family together and we decided to take a road trip for lunch. We eneded up going 1 hour outside of the city to a small town that grows a lot of fruit. We even squished 8 people in a 5 person car. The host mom ended up not liking lunch so she decided we should go find another lunch. We actually just went to a fruit stand and ate a bunch of fruit. But in total they kidnapped me for 5 hours. It was crazy. 5 hours for lunch!

Then I came back and skyped with my dad and wendy because the electricity was back.

On Monday the taxis and buses were still striking but of course CECAMI decided to still have class even though I had 5 students. They even decided we should have class at night when it would be unsafe for us to walk home. Kate, the director, stepped in and said no we don´t have class because she was more worried about our safety. But now it means I have to make up the class and I don´t really have any time since it´s the end of the module. Oh well, we´ll see what happens with that.

Side note:
The other day I went to a clothes shop with my host mom because she was looking for pants. I decided to be inquisitive and try on a pair myself. I wanted to know exactly why pants are so terrible in Ecuador. It´s because all of the pants are made of stretch fabric (so you can wear several sizes too small) and because they are all high waisted (so you can shove your stomach into it). It was crazy! The way the pants are made anyone can wear several sizes too small which just creates a terrible camel toe and horrible panty lines. No wonder they said girls can´t ever find pants in Ecuador... And the shirts aren´t much better. They are all a mix of Limited Too for adults and the ugly section of Forever XXI. It´s like kid clothes and hooker clothes that are all too tight for everyone. Crazy...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

more strikes

On Thursday I went to class and realized that half of them weren´t there. I had heard earlier in the day that there was a bus strike but since I never take the bus in Ibarra I didn´t know how bad it was. A student explained what was going on and said that all the bus drivers were striking because they wanted to chage 25 cents per ride and the people in Ibarra wouldn´t pay. The people in Ibarra don´t want to pay 25 cents because the buses are bad and because Quito charges 25 cents and is much bigger and the transport is much better. The student also warned me that the taxis might strike as well to show their allegiance with the buses.

Then in my next class I only had 2 students and one told me that now the taxis were striking. I was like ¨hmm, oh crap, how am I going to get home?¨Shari, Natasha and I got a ride from the mother of one of my students. She took us to our Thursday night dinner and we had a good time together complaining about all of CECAMIs problems. Then we ended up finding a rogue taxi driver to take us home.

On Friday I had a make-up day because of the day we missed when the police were striking. I had my conversation class at a coffee shop and then went to visit SECAP with Natasha. SECAP is the other school in Ibarra that we might be able to teach at. It was really nice and offered us everything we needed. Kate says she will work on getting it set up. I really hope it works! I want to work somewhere that appreciates me, where I have students, and where the administration cares.

Then Friday night I had my classes. Because of the bus strike and because it was Friday I only had 2 students in my first class and none in my second. I decided to join Natasha´s class for the second and when we realized that everyone in the office had gone home for the night at 6:15 we decided to just take her class to a coffee shop. If the administration can leave early on Friday because they don´t want to be there then so can we...

The bus strike is still going on. There´s no telling when it will be over either. Schools are cancelled during the strike because no one can get to school. This means my host brother has had 2 free days with nothing to do and he doesn´t know when he will have to go back to school. Ecuador is crazy...

Today I´m making mac and cheese for my family. It should be good! I haven´t done anything all day and it feels so good. Except for my nail polish broke and won´t open :(. Other than that todo bien.

Tomorrow I have to plan for my classes. They are having an oral and written test this week. Then we have a super long weekend for the holidays and then they get their certificates on Thursday saying they passed. Then I have a break for a few days. I´m going to go to Baños with a friend. Then on the 15th I start another module at CECAMI. Hopefully I will have more students...

Love you!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My first real sickness... And it wasn´t even amoebas

Thursday was a regular day of teaching but we didn´t have our usual Thursday night dinner because Natasha had already left for Quito and I was leaving for Quito early in the morning. On Friday I went to Quito and met Peter at his work. All of his coworkers were having a party for a client so I got to watch a mariachi band. It was a pretty cool office party. Then I went to lunch with Kate and Natasha and met a former Ibarra volunteer, Christine. Christine worked in Ibarra for 2 years and now lives in Quito with her boyfriend teaching English.

Saturday Peter and I went to Mitad del Mundo (the equator). It is about 30 minutes outside of Quito to get to the cute little town. The town is not actually on the equator but they decided to put the town and the monument there because the geography is better. The town has tons of shops and other cool things. You can also go to the top of the monument but you have to pay $3 so we didn´t do it (Ecuador is making me cheap). But as we were walking around we found a sign for a tour of an indigenous area with a sun calendar. We took a tourbus and about 10 minutes later we were up in the mountains at a pyramid that claimed it was on the equator and the world was going to end in 2012. It was so cool! They had art exhibits from native people and tons of other indigenous stuff. I definitely recommend doing that if you come here.

Then Peter, Natasha, Christine, her boyfriend, and I all went out for dinner and dancing. We went to a German bar and then to Bungalow. The German bar had giant foam hats and $10 German beers. I stuck to the $1 Ecua-beer. Bungalow was fun until Christine´s boyfriend got very drunk and was kicked out.

On Sunday I watched the new Karate Kid (so cute!) and came back to Quito.

Then on Monday I noticed my throat starting to hurt. I couldn´t sleep all Monday night and on Tuesday I had class at 8. I got myself out of bed and made it to class. As Tuesday progressed I got super sick. I had a fever of 101 and could barely move. For some reason I decided to still teach my classes at 4pm and 6pm. After the 4pm class I felt like I was going to die so Natasha took my 6pm class so I wouldn´t have to make it up. Then I went home and decided to take some antibiotics that my doctor in the states gave me. I don´t know if it was a good idea but I needed to take something. Then I slept for 16 hours and cancelled my Wednesday morning class. I was able to make it to my night classes though. All the sleeping really helped. I´m feeling much better now.

Ecua-ism of the day:
A closed door means STAY OUT. I´m not used to a closed door meaning this. In Ecuador you only close your door if you are sleeping or having sex. So if you are reading, doing homework, or anything else you keep it open. If a door is closed then no one knocks and thinks you are busy. I think this is weird so I still close my door when I´m planning and what not. But when I was sleeping for 16 hours no one bothered me. They said they were worried but because my door was closed they didn´t want to bother me. They wanted to bring me food and tea but they were scared off by my closed door. Who knew a closed door could mean so much...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You never know what´s coming next...

Last Thursday the director of Worldteach (Kate) came to talk to CECAMI about some problems. As it turns out, CECAMI doesn´t seem to care that there are problems. When this became clear Kate had a big decision to make and has decided she might close down the site. It was weird how the meeting went from being about problems that were fixable to problems that weren´t fixable. And now Shari, Natasha, and I are facing a real possibility of having to change cities. It was a crazy day...

The options from here:
  • Cecami fixes itself and gets enough students of the right age and we can all stay
  • Cecami only fixes itself to sustain 1 or 2 teachers and 1 or 2 of us have to change sites
  • SECAP in Ibarra (another school) is willing to take 1 or all of us so we can stay in Ibarra
  • We move to new cities (my least favorite option)

I really love Ibarra and I´d hate to leave. But CECAMI is not nice and doesn´t care. I understand why Kate is feeling the need to shut it down. I guess in Ecuador you never know what is coming next...

On Saturday I went to Quito to hang out with a bunch of people from WorldTeach. The people in Ambato were in Quito for the weekend and so we all went out. About half the group of 33 was there and it was great to see each other after a month of teaching in our cities and experiencing new things. Ambato seems like a really cool place and I can´t wait to go there and see it. We all went to our favorite Indian place and then went to the bar that has the beer in the boots. The guys decided to have a boot chugging race and one got a nosebleed and two others threw up. I wonder if I´ll ever understand boys and intense drinking games...

Now I´m back to teaching this week. It´s going pretty well and the students seem to be understanding. I think the test last week scared away a lot of the students who never studied and never paid attention. Now I have 15 in my basic and 5 in my intermediate...

Shari, Natasha, and I are going to start passing out flyers in the center of the city in hopes that we can get more students at CECAMI. We have to pay for the flyers ourselves because CECAMI of course doesn´t care.

That´s all for now. I think on Friday I´m headed to Quito again with the rest of the people from Ibarra to meet with Kate. We might also go to Mindo again on Saturday. But then again, I´m in Ecuador and never know what tomorrow brings...

Lots of love!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Weirdest ecua moment yet...

I was walking to school and three little girls kept yelling hello at me. i was the only one on the street so i said hello back. then they ran after me and asked if i wanted more friends. it was a little weird and i was late for work so i said i had to get to work. they said they wanted to be my friend because i was a gringa. now it was really starting to get weird so i said i had to go and walked away. they walked after me and grabbed my arm, hair, and purse continously asking me why i didn´t want to be their friend. they actually started to hurt with their grabbing so i gave them the evil eye and walked faster. they kept running after me until i turned a corner.

... yes i stick out like a sore thumb that much...

Good things

I think my blog post has been full of negative things lately. So here are some positive things!

  • I found a new Spanish teacher who is much better. He knows English very well so he knows how our brains process language. And he was an English teacher in a high school, so he knows how to teach. It´s also only $2 a lesson!
  • On my way to Spanish class the other day I ran into a tienda for a drink. The man working started talking in Spanglish to me. He said he lived in Jersey for 26 years. He didn´t know that much English but he spoke Spanish with a Jersey accent!
  • I dropped my sweater the other day and didn´t notice. A woman ran 2 blocks to catch up with me and return my sweater. I wouldn´t have even noticed it was gone if she hadn´t have stopped me.
  • My student and I went hiking yesterday at a local park area. It is only a 30 minute walk from my house and it´s really pretty. So now I have a new place to go walking. And at the top there is a zoo with monkeys and swings.
  • The director of WorldTeach has decided to come to CECAMI to straighten some things out. So now it´s not just us teachers complaining to CECAMI, but a director is going to. Hopefully this means that some changes will start to be made.
  • I saw kittens the other day. There were two of them outside a shack by the hinking trail. They were so cute! They were just playing and jumping all over each other.
  • My sister told me she is coming to visit! Yay!

I haven´t been doing too much besides teaching the last few days. My students had an oral test last night and have a written test tonight. They did very well on the oral part so hopefully they will do well on the written part!

Monday, October 4, 2010

I survived my first coup


So last week was surprisingly very boring. I had Tuesday off and went to a parade. However, I have no realized that parades in Ibarra are all about students and government employees. The students and employees just march down a street for 2 hours. Sometimes the schools have marching bands but mostly it is just walking.

Monday and Wednesday I just taught. Nothing special.

Then on Thursday I was in Spanish class and I got a call from my field director saying I had to stay where I was because something was happening with the government. I made it back to my house in a taxi and started to watch the news. I was really worried about what was going on but it seemed like everyone else didn´t care. I asked my host family and they simply said, ¨this happens all the time.¨ So here I am watching the news and having no idea what is going on. I´m seeing pictures of Guyaquil and Quito and people stealing things. Then I get a call from another WorldTeach person and she explains what is going on.

Correa had a talk with some police officers and explained new laws that were starting. The police took it as meaning they were going to lose money so they started rioting. Correa got hurt in the process and was taken to the nearest hospital (the police hospital). So all the police in the country decided to go on strike. After that Correa was talking to them from his hospital room and trying to explain that he wasn´t taking money from them. People in the cities decided to take advantage of the police-free time and started stealing and robbing banks. It wasn´t until the shoot-out started at the hospital that people in Ecuador started to worry. Then everyone watched the TV. Usuaully strikes and protests in Ecuador are not violent (no more violent than tear gas) so actual gunfire was new. The military ended up getting Correa out of the hospital and two police officers died and many others were injured. At the end Correa talked from the Ecua-white house and said he would repremand the people who tried to ¨overthrow¨ him.

I personally don´t think it was so much of an attempted coup because no one supported the police. Every other government and the military and most of the Ecuadorian people support Correa. I know in the news they made it sound like a big deal, but here it was just a 12 hour mess where the police went on strike and unfortunately some people died.

By Saturday everything was mostly back to normal. Ibarra stayed completely safe the whole time because Ibarra is a very safe city.

Saturday night I went to a club called tSunami and danced with some friends. Clubs are supposed to close at 2am but because of all the problems in Ecuador with the police they decided to push the limits and stay open until 4am. Crazy.

Other than that it was a very boring weekend. I wasn´t supposed to leave my house much and so I stayed indoors a lot. I have now realized Ibarra is pretty boring on the weekends. Oh well, it´s good to get some reading in.

This next week should be good. I have to give my classes tests (oral and written) so my workload won´t be too hard (except for grading). I don´t think I like my conversation class though. CECAMI asks each teacher to hold a conversation class so that students can practice English in an informal setting. CECAMI made my class at 8am and I only have one student. It makes it a little awkward because I know English well and she is struggling. It would be much better if we had more students that she could talk with in English and see that they are struggling too. And she seems to never want to ask for help and never lets me know if she doesn´t understand something. So I find I´m guessing a lot with her. But we´ll see how it works. Hopefully I can have more people in my class next module. The nice thing is that we don´t have to have class in the school. So tomorrow I think we are going to take a hike up a small mountain for class.

That´s all for now. Love you!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Will blog soon


i just tried to write a blog post but it was unsuccessful and deleted it. i will write again later. but i am definitely fine and ibarra is fine!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quick update on Protests in Ecuador

Hi everyone - it's Kaytee (Sara's sister). I just talked to Sara, and she's fine. If you haven't noticed, there's a bit of chaos happening in Ecuador.

The World Teach folks have been really great about keeping us in the loop about everything that's happening. Their advice to their volunteers is to stay home until things subside, and that's exactly what Sara's doing. She's at her host family's house in Ibarra, with no internet, which is why I'm posting for her.

If you want to read more about what's happening, go to and search Ecuador.

She sends her love and thanks everyone for their concern.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh, Ecuador...

That is all I can say this week. Oh, Ecuador...

  • Worldteach has a contract with the Ecuadorian government where we teach adults. CECAMI (where I work) has us teaching kids. We told our director (Kate) for Worldteach and she told CECAMI to get them out of our class because it is breaking the law and could possibly shut Worldteach down. CECAMI, of course, doesn´t care. So now I´m teaching kids when I´m not supposed to and I ask CECAMI to take them out of my class and they say (in front of the kid) ¨Why don´t you want him/her in your class? Do you not like him/her?¨ No, dumbo, I am not allowed to teach kids! You know this but still your way to make the situation better is to make the kid think it´s my fault and I just don´t like him/her.
  • I have tomorrow off for a holiday. I didn´t officially know that until today.
  • CECAMI called me at 9pm on Thursday night to tell me I had a conversation class at 8am on Monday. I show up at 8am and no one comes. I ask the assistant in the office and she said, ¨Of course no one came, there is a program in the high schools this morning.¨
  • I have random bites all over my legs. I thought they were mosquito bites. It turns out I have fleas because the dog at my house has fleas. Yes, I have fleas...
  • I came home to an empty house Saturday night and my host family had never mentioned they had an alarm system. I use my keys and the alarm goes off. Frantically I call my host mother and she is able to explain where the alarm is and what the code is. I´m thinking, wow that was crazy. Then the police sirens started and the police showed up. Luckily I was able to explain the situation to them and they didn´t even come in the house.
  • I was walking down the street and a car starts to follow me for 2 blocks honking at me and trying to get me to get in his car. I was 4 blocks from my house and I had to get in a taxi and pay $1 because a creeper wanted to kidnap me.
  • I still can´t convince my host family that milk should be cold when you drink it. They insist on serving me lukewarm milk with my cereal.
  • I eat corn for breakfast every couple of days. An ear of corn.... for breakfast....
  • My new schedule is from 8-9am and 4-8pm. Everything opens at 10am, closes from 12-3, and closes for good at 8. Not sure when I´m supposed to get work done...
  • And I don´t have access to my classroom in the morning between 10-12 because it is used for a tourism class. So they use all my stuff and rearrange everything. Which means from 3-4 I´m putting all my stuff back together.
  • I took a bus from Quito to Ibarra this weekend and two very smelly men sat in front of me.
  • On these buses they play very stupid fighting movies. Basically everyone gets the shit kicked out of them and dies. The movies are also insanely loud and you can´t drown out the sound of a leg breaking and blood curdling screams.
  • I can´t sleep, read, or listen to my Ipod on a bus. If I lose concentration for any amount of time my stuff will get stolen.

Oh, Ecuador.....

Monday, September 20, 2010

First festival weekend

After classes on Thursday Natasha invited Shari and me out for dinner with her Peace Corps friends and other random people who speak English. It was a lot of fun because she even had some of her students who are advanced come along. The Peace Corps vols were super interesting because they are each doing something totally different. One girl is working in an orphanage, one girl is working at a health clinic giving AIDS talks, and a guy is working on re-foresting a park.

Then on Friday I did some laundry (this time with just a washing machine, not hand washing needed) and had my Spanish class. I´m not a huge fan of the teacher because she is German and knows Spanish because she married an Ecua. She also just uses a workbook and asks us to work out of it. There isn´t enough explanation. I think Shari and I are going to look for somewhere else to take Spanish classes.

Then Pedro came up from Quito and we went to the parade. Parades in Ibarra are very interesting. It´s like there is one group of people that walk by or dance by or whatever and then 5 minutes later another group comes by. So there is a lot of waiting around and the parade took like 3 hours. We ended up going to get food in the middle of it because we were hungry.

Then next day we went to Otavalo, an indigenous market so Pedro could take pictures of indigenous people. It is a really neat market but it is a little annoying to be a gringa there. Everyone kept asking me to buy from them incessantly. It was like I couldn´t even look at something without being harrassed. I´m sure I´ll go back because it is an amazing market with a ton of stuff. I´ll just have to work on me ¨I don´t speak Spanish at all¨ look.

On Saturday night there was the ¨Reina de Ibarra¨ beauty pageant. It was pretty funny watching these 17-18 year old girls parade around in swimsuits and evening gowns. It was a legit beauty pageant.

Then on Sunday I did a whole bunch of planning and rested up for my week of teaching.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Ibarra

So I have officially started teaching. I plan from 9-12, eat lunch, then teach from 4-8. Starting soon I will also teach a class of kids from 3-4. It´s not bad so far. I have one class of basics which is way too full. I find I can´t do too much with them because they get overly excited and start yelling in Spanish. I really like my intermediate class though. There are about 10 of them and most are professionals who really want to learn English to advance their job prospects. I´m finding I can really challenge this class. The basics will take some adjusting to.

My host family is still really great and they work with me on my Spanish. I think I´m improving a lot. I was able to tell my host mom that I won´t be at dinner because I was invited to go out with some people and I won´t be staying there tomorrow night because my friend is coming in. I´m also finding that I don´t hesitate before talking as much as I used to. I know what I am saying is probably coming out wrong, but at least I´m not afraid to say it.

More weird food: eggs with slightly popped corn. They looked like eyeballs....

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bienvenidos a Ibarra!!

Friday night we all went out to celebrate our last night together. We went to a fancy pizza place and I had pizza with brie. Another girl got pasta in a pizza crust, it was cool! Then a few of us went dancing and to a late night coffee shop. On the way back another jerk cab driver decided to add $5 to the total because our stop was a little further away than he thought. Dude, we told you where we live (you´re the cab driver, you should know!!). And of course they say either pay or get out in a very sketchy part of town so you have to pay. It sucks. On Saturday Shari and I took taxi lagos to Ibarra. It´s this awesome company that picks you up in a large taxi (with other people in it) and takes you to where you want to go for $8 plus $2 if you have a lot of luggage. It was a much safer option than a bus since we could make sure our stuff was secure. The only downside is that it isn´t very timely. Taxi lagos is definitely on ecua-time. We were supposed to leave at 1pm and ended up leaving at 2:45.

And now here I am in Ibarra. Yay!

Reasons why Ibarra is better than Quito:
  • I can walk everywhere! Granted it might be a 45 minute walk to the other side of town, but I can walk anywhere I want to.
  • There are a few taxi drivers and I haven´t taken one yet but they seem nice. They don´t honk at me as I walk down the street and say ¨Gringa, need a taxi!?¨
  • My host family is nice to me. I have a mom (who pretty much works all the time but she is super nice), a dad (who also works all the time), 2 brothers who study in Quito and come home for the weekends, and a brother who is in high school. They all want to help me learn Spanish and understand that I don´t know a lot.
  • We have an empleada who cooks all the food (so it´s very yummy)
  • I eat weird things at weird times. Yesterday morning I had corn and cheese for breakfast and cereal with strawberry yogurt for dinner.
  • They have an awesome TV with tons of channels. I watched Tarzan yesterday.
  • My school is so cute! I have my own classroom and the grounds have a bunch of gardens and a very nice gardner who brings me plantains that grow in the garden.
  • My schedule is from 3-8. I teach one class of kids and two mixed classes. And I only teach from Monday-Thursday.
  • There is a festival this weekend, one on the 28th and another on October 2nd. Yes, dad, more parties.
  • My family is considering getting wireless (yay!)
  • The other worldteach volunteer in Ibarra (from the February group) is super cool and from London.
  • Everything closes from 11-2 in the afternoon because it is lunch and ciesta time.
  • I have a nice shower with hot water and a nice bedroom with tons of closet space.

I´m sure there are more reasons but that is the list for now. The only negatives are that since it´s a smaller city there aren´t really places to take Spanish classes and there isn´t much of a ¨going out¨ scene. Hopefully I can convince someone to teach me Spanish because I need it!

That´s all for now. I shall update more soon!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Babies, babies, babies!

So on Wednesday night I headed out to watch the soccer game in Plaza Foch on a big screen TV. It was nuts! People were throwing bottles and flares when Liga won. It was a ton of fun though. The bad thing is there was nowhere to go to the bathroom. Some of the guys had been taking shots from random people (basically all the alcohol people drank was free because everyone was so excited we were there to watch the game). A whole bunch of people ended up getting really drunk and I found it much more pleasant to hang out in the Indian restaurant after the game. Soccer fans are crazy!

Thursday I had more classes and found out about my host family in Ibarra. They sound very nice. I will be living with a mom, dad, 14 year old son, and 2 sons who study in Quito. The only downside I know of is that I have to share a bathroom with those 3 boys. But they have an empleada and so it should stay clean. Then Krista and I stopped by a movie store and I picked up a ton of cheap movies. I got an entire season of Friends for $5! After that we met up at a bar and watched our last dose of American football before heading to our cities.

Today I got to meet my host sister´s baby. Her name is Sophia and she was born about 36 hours ago. She is so tiny! Then I got to stop by a petstore and see tons of kittens and puppies. It was like baby overload!

Now I´m off to Spanish (we are getting lunch instead of having a regular class) and then I´m moving my stuff to Shari´s so we can be ready to leave in the morning. We have a final dinner with the group tonight and then a few of us are going out for Asia´s (another vol) birthday. Should be a good final night in Quito!

More about cars in Quito:
  • They don´t have seatbelts in the back seats. It´s totally unsafe but I have only seen one accident
  • They drive like crazy here. It is like playing chicken.
  • I have now decided to argue with cab drivers. I honestly think this might be how I learn Spanish. I am so annoyed at the way they overcharge me and try to drop me off at random places. So now sometimes I get out without paying the whole fare. I don´t recommend doing this unless you are most of the way out of the car when you hand them the money. And you have to judge based on the cab driver´s personality. There have been instances where cab drivres have kidnapped people because they were rude. But, regardless, this should not be a problem in Ibarra because cab rides should only cost $2, not $10.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Last week in Quito

So Sunday was filled with going to the mall and skyping with my dad and Wendy. I also got to meet my friends´ host family. They are so cool. They talk slowly and actually interact with me. I hope my host family in Ibarra is like them.

Monday was just full of workshops and watching people practice teach. A few of us also caught the VT-Boise State game after teaching. It was cool to eat american food in an american-ish bar.

Tuesday was more workshops and then I went on my first ecua-date. His name is Pedro and it was fun. We just went for dinner and a walk while others practice taught. He speaks English really well so the communication wasn´t a problem.

Today we had a session on sex and love in Ecuador. It was actually fascinating because it was done from a totally sociological standpoint. She went back to the differences in colonization between North and South America and how that affects our present mindsets on gender and relationships.

Now I´m rapidly planning a lesson for tonight because the boy who was going to teach got sick and is in the hospital (intestinal parasites, yuck!). And I just got to skype with my grandma and other family :)

Tomorrow and Friday are my last days in Quito. It´s so hard to believe! Tonight after teaching I´m also going out with some friends because the second of the big soccer games is on TV.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, September 5, 2010



So on Friday my Spanish class and I headed to a market to learn some market related vocab. It was pretty cool and I'd like to go back sometime. There are stalls for fruits and veggies, herbs, random crap, flowers, etc... Then we checked out a local cheese and chocolate place and I tried some chocolate con aji. Delicious! After that we had a session on giving directions while teaching English. I understand that it's hard to give directions in English because the students don't understand the English, but it's super hard! They basically had us cut out every word we were saying and strip it down to the bare minimum. Unfortunately, I had to teach right after this lesson. The directions giving lesson didn't jive well with how I teach so I wasn't quite on my game. I think it will take some time to fit that into my "teacher-mode." But at the end of the day the students learned what I taught them and that's all I can ask.

Saturday we headed to Papallacta. It is about 2 hours from Quito (to the east) and is super high up. As we started to ascend up the mountain the vegetation became pretty harsh. Papallacta is about 12,000 feet. Once we got there we headed to lunch and I had some fresh Papallacta trout (yum!). Then we hit the hot springs (more like swimming pools with hot water brought in). It was a lot of fun because the pools were different temperatures. So we would go from the hot to the cold the the medium to the hot, etc... Pictures to come.

After we got back from Papallacta we headed to our director's house (Kate) because her sister-in-law owns a chocolate business. She had us taste her chocolates and give her feedback. I really loved the passion fruit and nutella chocolates. Then as people were doing the focus groups we drank wine and played games in the kitchen. Wine and chocolate for free... pretty perfect.

We also went out after the wine and chocolate to the Mariscal because it was a girl's birthday. Fun!

Now I'm just hanging out on my day off. Next week is my last week in Quito and on Saturday Shari and I head to Ibarra!!!

- Laundry is an ordeal here. They seem to not believe that washing machines actually wash clothes. So they hand wash them first and then put them in the washing machines. I'm pretty sure they are clean after the intense hand washing they get. But because laundry machines are "cool" the clothes also have to go in there. It's pretty funny and a slight waste of water.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Long week or practice teaching

I know, long time no-update. But it’s been a crazy week! On Monday we had an awesome session with an Ecua about Ecua-schools. It really clarified a lot as to what problems I’ll face while teaching. He went into how Ecua-schools are very meta-cognitive (teacher provides information) and American schools are much more cognitive (student does the learning). He said this causes a lot of problems because we will want our students to do things like homework and projects and individual work, but they will want us to spoon feed them everything. He suggested we use a lot of group projects but warned us to stay strict on grading. It was a really informative session!

Then we all started our practice teaching. I have a group of Basic II students. They are all great and range in age from 13-55. The teaching started out hectic because there were four teachers. After a little while we all got in our groove and taught them a few things. I realized I really missed teaching.

Then on Tuesday we had more sessions and I observed Kari practice teach our class. She taught them about greetings, letters, and numbers. It’s really interesting watching a first time teacher teach. There is just so much that comes from hands-on experience. You can have this amazing lesson planned, but if you don’t have the experience to be flexible, stay firm on classroom management, or have an idea of timing, then teaching can be rough. She did a great job and improved immensely in the second hour of her teaching.

Then Wednesday I watched her teach again and she was awesome. She taught about time and the verb “to like.” I also went out Wednesday night because it was free drinks again. We started at the Indian restaurant and then made our way to Bungalow. After that we hit up a few other random bars. Wednesdays are really fun in Quito!

Today I went to sessions and got ready for my practice teaching. I taught them the verbs “to be” and “to have.” It was so awesome to teach again. The people who observed me said I have a definite “teacher-mode.” The class was great and I think they learned a lot. We also got to listen to some Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees (they love that kind of music here) while we did some activities. I’m so excited to have my own classroom J

Tomorrow I’m practice teaching again and they are making Facebook profiles about themselves using the verbs they’ve learned. Then Saturday we’re all headed to Papallacta, a place with hot springs. Should be fun!

Ecua-ism of the week:

- Bad cab drivers. There are some cab drivers in Quito who suck. After practice teaching on Monday, Krista and I took a cab back to our house. However, the cab driver let us off 2 streets away and said “for $2 more I’ll take you to your actual house.” So we walked. Then the next day it was pouring and another cab driver let my friends and me off 2 blocks from our destination because he didn’t want to drive over the bridge. He also said “for $1 more I’ll take you to your actual destination.” So, again, we walked. Ridiculous!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Random update

This is my first full free day... so if you can't tell I've had a lot of time to do nothing (hence the 3 updates in one day).

I have been getting a lot of questions about the Ecuadorian diet. Here are a few examples of typical Ecuadorian meals. The last one is a typical "fast food" meal.
  • Eggs and toast
  • Soup with potatoes, rice, and veggies; mashed potatoes, rice, and broccoli
  • Soup with potatoes, rice, and veggies; chicken, rice, and salad
  • Soup with potatoes and eggs; rice, beans, salad
  • At Pizza Hut: Personal pizza, french fries, cheese sauce, and a soda
... they eat a lot of carbs...

As for Spanish, I had a good day today. I had a decent conversation with the cab driver on my way home. We chatted about how I will be teaching English in Ibarra for the next year and what I plan to do for the next two weeks in Quito. And I also got to hang out with my host mom by myself because Krista went out for the day. It was cool just chatting with her because she actually had to slow down and help me understand. I told her about my trip to Mindo and she helped correct some of my grammar. It really pumped me up for Ibarra when I will live by myself with a host family and learn a lot more Spanish.


Here are some more pictures! (including Mindo)

Cascadas, Mariposas, and Mindo

On Friday we finally got to learn more about our site placements and about our practice teaching. I will be teaching at a university near the school from 6-8 for the next few weeks. I will only be solo teaching on Thursday and Friday and the other members of my group will be teaching the other days. I like this way of practice teaching because it gives us all a chance to teach by ourselves but also gives us a lot of time to observe other people teach. My group has a Basic II class (which is basically Basic 1). We’re going to have them make a family tree and teach them simple verbs. I’m meeting with my group this afternoon to work out more of the details.

Then that afternoon Shari and I found out more about Ibarra. We are going to have our own classrooms and we teach in a really small building. The entire curriculum is up to us and so we have complete free reign. I’m so excited! I don’t like teaching to tests and I don’t think multiple choice tests show that someone knows English. We don’t know about our host families yet but hopefully that will come soon. We are going to start teaching on September 13th (2 days after we move to Ibarra, crazy!) and we will teach Monday-Thursday. Should be fun!

After that we attempted to get a manicure for $3. Except it was the most painful manicure I’ve ever had! The lady took 2 hours to do us both and she kept answering her cell phone and then not paying attention to the fact that she was digging into my skin. It was definitely a strange experience… but it was only $3. I chose purple nails because every girl in Quito wears purple eye shadow out to her ears. It’s an interesting sight to see.

Then we went to MegaMaxi, which is more like Concord Mills because it is so huge. Then I went back and got my stuff and headed over to Cheryl, Claire, and Shari’s place to spend the night so we could go to Mindo in the morning.

In the morning we woke up super early and caught a bus to Mindo. It was so cool to be outside of Quito and not around a million people and disgusting pollution. Mindo is actually the jumping off city for a bunch of adventure activities. Since we didn’t have too long to stay in Mindo we only did a few things. We took a cable car across a valley and then hiked for about 4 hours to a bunch of different waterfalls. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the big waterfall because we couldn’t find it and were running out of water and time and hadn’t eaten in 8 hours. Cheryl and I have plans to come back and find that waterfall though J. It was also a cool experience because Claire hates the outdoors and so we pushed her to do it. There were some tough parts to the hike so I’m proud of her.

Then we headed to a butterfly garden and got to see some amazing butterflies. After that we got lunch and looked at some street markets while waiting for our bus back to Quito. I would definitely recommend making Mindo a whole weekend trip because they have so much there. There’s ziplining, horseback riding, tubing, bird-watching, an orchid farm, tons of hiking, and a cool city to explore. It’s definitely worth going to!

Then we headed back and got some Chifa (Chinese food) and I came back to my house and passed out.

Pictures of Mindo are coming soon!

Coolest Ecua-thing I saw in Mindo:

While Cheryl, Claire and I were hiking up and down and all around a mountain on a pretty intense hike we saw an Ecua-family carrying their kids and doing the hike like it was no problem. There were streams to cross, logs to climb over, areas that were so steep you had to slide down, and then an Ecua-family making it look soooo easy. It was nuts! We also ran into some Germans who tried to do it in flip-flops. I think they regretted that decision. Oh, and no one in Ecuador wears flip-flops. I still wear mine almost everyday though.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Did I mention Ecuas are loud?

This week is starting to look up a bunch. Yesterday was a huge soccer match between Ecuador and Argentina. A bunch of vols and I (and some locals) went to an Indian restaurant to watch the game. It was so much fun! The locals were going crazy and everyone was screaming at the TV. We were also in the middle of the Mariscal and the whole square was insane. No matter where you went you couldn’t hear yourself think! At half time a bunch of us went to a club called Bungalow. Wednesday is ladies night in Quito and this place had no cover and free drinks from 8-10. It’s actually a hilarious idea. They only let girls in from 8-10, give them free drinks (liquor only, no beer), and then charge guys a ton of money to file in at 10. I met some guy who said he went to Columbia University and now half owns a company in London that works with oil refineries. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t telling the whole truth about his job… but hey, I got a free drink out of it. Then we went to another club where they only serve shots. I’ve never been good with those but I was convinced to take an “Ecuador shot.” It’s basically blue Curacao, grenadine, vodka, and banana liquor layered on top of each other to look like the Ecuadorian flag. Then came more salsa dancing and then bed.

Today we went to an awesome Gauyasamin (sp?) museum. It was up on this hill that looked out over the whole city. Amazing! Inside we had a tour in Spanish that talked about his paintings. This artist is really incredible and if you haven’t heard of him you should definitely look him up. The museum was completely dedicated to him and everything he stood for. His big influences were Picasso and Dali, but he focused more on social issues in South America. If you ever come to Quito, I highly recommend seeing this museum. You can also go to his house, which is right above the museum, and see where he is buried.

After that I had my Spanish class and then I learned some basic grammar rules and how to teach them. Teaching English is going to be tough! I am also going to find out more about Ibarra and my placement there tomorrow. I’m so excited to hear more about it!

Then I came home and the whole fam was there and we had a nice dinner together. I actually understood most of the conversation but I still couldn’t contribute much to it. My brain just doesn’t form sentences that fast yet.

Oh! And this weekend I’m headed to Mindo (the cloud forest)!

More Ecua-isms:

  • · They put popcorn in their soup. Sounds sketchy but it is so good!
  • · Don’t drink strawberry juice or eat strawberries here. They can’t be washed well enough and so there is a fungus you can get that has a reaction a bit like tripping on shrooms. Some poor guys in our group had a very interesting afternoon the other day…
  • · It never rains in Quito. I have been here a week and a half and it rained for about 30 seconds one day. I had no idea it was so dry!
  • · The supermarkets here are called Supermaxi and Megamaxi. Basically walmart but with a much cooler name. I’m headed to Megamaxi tomorrow because it has a Payless attached to it. Yes, a Payless J
  • · Songs that didn’t make it big in America are huge here. I can’t think of any examples right now, but it’s hilarious listening to music in a club or on the bus.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First impressions

So after a whole week in Ecuador I can officially say that some cracks are starting to show in my first impressions. Yesterday was a mostly fun day. My classmates and I had an Amazing Race Quito, which was a lot of fun. We got to see the bull-fighting arena, the soccer stadium, and other random places around Quito. Then I came home with Krista and my host-madre talked for about 45 minutes without a break about her old job. Now one would think this would be fascinating, however, she still has no idea why I can't speak or understand everything in Spanish. So for 45 minutes I was listening so intently and I got most of it but boy did I have a headache after! And then she started to ask me questions and it just didn't work out so well. Which of course led to her saying that I need to learn Spanish. Dear people, I can't learn Spanish in a week. Thanks for understanding.

Then this morning Krista and I watched a dog get run over in the middle of a street by a semi-truck. It was so awful and I have no idea if the image will ever fully leave my head. And then we got on the wrong bus, got lost, got on another bus and I got stuck in the doors. Not a fun start to the morning. And to top it off, one of the other vols got her bag slashed last night and everything stolen. Plus several vols are starting to get pretty sick.

It's interesting how everything starts awesome and then the little flaws start to show. I haven't encountered anything I can't handle yet, and it is still awesome here, but parts of it will take getting used to.

I did find a place that had $1 huge beers last night though :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Salsa y picnic

Hola mis amigos,

Last night a bunch of us went salsa dancing at a chevere (awesome) club in Quito. There were tons of locals and everyone here is so good at salsa! I swear it is like in their blood. I, however, was not so good. But Daniel is taking Krista and me to a free salsa club on miercoles so that we can practice more. Should be fun!

Today we went to a picnic with all of the host families in this gorgeous park in Quito. It is way up on a hill so you can see everything (if you can't tell, everything is on a hill here). We got there and parked but then didn't know where the picnic was so in traditional ecua-fashion we walked around until we found it (about 45 minutes). And again, in traditional ecua-fashion, my host-sister who is 8.5 months pregnant walked up the huge hill for 45 minutes too. The park ended up having a llama farm right next to it, which was so cool! And there was an ecua-playground which had no safety measures whatsoever. Their take on playgrounds is "asi es la vida" or if my kid gets hurt then that's life. Everyone played soccer and we all just had a great time and ate a ton. The one thing I didn't realize was how much faster you burn because of the elevation. The part on my hair is super burnt now :(.

Then Krista and I came back and finally got some down time. I unpacked and took a siesta. Then we ate more delicious soup and now I'm writing this.

Tomorrow we are having more classes and then having an Amazing Race Quito! Should be fun!

More Ecua-isms:
  1. No one cares about pollution here. The mountains are covered in a smoggy haze all the time. It's still pretty, but gross.
  2. Time doesn't really matter here and everyone is on Ecua-time.
  3. It is impossible to find change. Everyone needs quarters for the bus and so no one wants to give you quarters. They also hate breaking $20s.
  4. They use like 10 blankets at night because it gets so cold and they don't have heating.
  5. Asi es la vida. They aren't very empathetic here because everyone just has the attitude of "that's life." It's pretty interesting actually.
Side note: My head is getting super full of Spanish right now. I think I've stopped processing new information and conversations. We'll see if a good night's rest helps.

Pictures: Check out this link to look at some of my pictures! Most are of the historic district in Quito.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Everything Ecua thus far...

(This is going to be long... fair warning).

Where to begin? Let's see... Last Monday I left the states to head to Miami. The flight to Miami was filled with bling everywhere (no joke it was hilarious). I got to the airport and then went straight to my hotel. A bit later I met up with one of the volunteers (Caitlin) and we went walking around the hotel. Good lord Miami in the summer is like a steam bath! We ate some awesome cuban food and I tried plantains for the first time. Then we headed back to the hotel and I met my roommate for the night, Teshema. She and I spent a long time talking and I realized that I was definitely going to like a lot of the people in this group. After that we headed to the lobby and ate dinner (hummus!) with some other vols. It was so crazy to be surrounded by people who have so much of the same view of the world that I do. After that we headed to our first orientation and chose spirt animals and talked about our worries. Again, everyone was so cool! Later a bunch of us went out to another cuban place until later and then I took my last hot shower with good water pressure. Then it was a nice and short 3.5 hours of sleep before the airport again!

We all shuffled ourselves to the airport and got on the flight to Colombia. It was definitely my first taste of everything being in Spanish and my head hurt a little. But it was all good. Then we landed in Colombia and hung out at the airport for awhile. I made some awesome friends and ate some delicious food. I also got to check out some of the duty free shops and (this if for Kaytee) found out that their favorite candy is guava jam in square form. Kinda weird and would be better on bread. I also picked up some dark chocolate, yum! Then came the big plane ride to Quito!

As we were flying in I couldn't help but notice how big quito is! It is a super long city because it is surrounded by mountains on either side. It was amazing seeing Cotopaxi and Pichincha (sp?) in the distance. Then we landed in the middle of the city (seriously) and got some taxis to our hostel. Quito is so gorgeous, but in a really understated way. It's pretty amazing.

We got to our hotel and some of us went out exploring for a while before dinner. Crazy potholes everywhere and pedestrians do NOT have the right of way. After that we went to dinner with the whole group and I had my first taste of Ecuadorian beer called Club. Something I imagine I'll be drinking much more of :). Then we were all super tired so we went to bed.

The next day we got up and went to our "school" and chatted about Ecuador. I had my first set almuerzo (lunch) of rice and beans. After lunch we had a big talk about safety in Ecuador and we were all pretty scared. Apparently buses are really unsafe (especially at night) and there were several WorldTeach horror stories. But all should be well as long as we take a reputable bus company during the day. The real fun came later that night when we got to meet our host families for Quito. I am living with a girl named Krista who is really nice. We were picked up by our Ecua-madre and her daughter and son-in-law. As we were taking our stuff to the car, one of the guys, Justin, wanted to help with my bag. Unfortunately, the hotel owner thought he was stealing my bag and put him in a pretty intense headlock. I felt so bad! We packed our billions of things into the car and... it wouldn't start. So in traditional Ecua-fashion we did not call a tow truck, or a taxi, we fixed it! Krista and I spent 2 hours pushing the car back and forth trying to get it to start and in gear with Diego (the son-in-law). It was crazy! We finally got it and made it to the house. It's really nice and we each have our own bedroom. We chatted for a while and thank goodness Krista is good at Spanish because I'm wasn't understanding too much.

Which brings up a good point. My head feels like a giant sponge right now. I am soaking up Spanish but I still suck at speaking. In nearly every conversation I can understand about 40% of it but responding is hard. My Ecua-mami is so cute because she wants me to understand so much and talks to me really fast and then says "mi Sarita... no se... preciosa!" My nicknames are Sarita (little Sara) and precious. I find the little funny because I'm actually taller than people here, even guys! But everything has -ita on the end. Ex: orita (little gold, aka: banana). I am taking Spanish classes though and they will help a lot. I'm in one with the girl who is moving to Ibarra with me. It is funny how the two worst Spanish speakers are both going to the same place.

The last few days have been filled with classes on culture shock and staying safe. They are very informative but they sure keep us busy. I've had 15 hour days for a few days in a row and it's making me muy consada! And after 15 hours in the city we come back and want to hang out with our host family. So I've been averaging very little sleep. Tomorrow is a relative free day though.

Last night Krista and I went out with our host brother, Daniel, to see the statue of the "Virgin of Quito" in the very center of the city. It is on a huge hill and looks over everything, so pretty! Then we went to this awesome part of the historic district called "La Ronda." It's basically a big street party every night with shops and musicians and mini-parades. We met up with some of his friends and I got to try Ecua-moonshine called "caneloza." It's cane sugar alcohol and some kind of juice flavoring served hot. It was pretty good but super strong! Then we tried "espumia" (sp?) which is weird non-cold ice cream like stuff. It was okay. Next were chocolates with alcohol in them, yum! And! Best part! All of this was paid for by Daniel's friends! Being a gringa can get you pretty far :).

Today we had more classes and we started learning about lesson planning. Most everyone in the group is freaking out about teaching. I actually feel pretty good about it. It's nice to have one strength (since everyone else has Spanish). I also went to a crazy cool market and will have to go back with more money. Next we had a salsa class because in a few minutes we are going salsa dancing! Granted I have two-left feet, but it's all fun.

That's my life so far!

  • Juice, juice, and more juice! Every kind of juice you can imagine and nothing from concentrate!
  • Ecuas always talk about the weather. It is either caliente or chachay (Quichua).
  • Ecuas have lots of Quichua words. Quichua is different then Quechua btw.
  • Food is cheap but almost everything else is expensive. I can get a super huge $2 lunch and then buy body wash for $6.
  • Ecuas are loud! Everything is amplified and crazy. It's awesome!
  • Hot water does not actually mean hot water. It means 10 seconds of hot water. We're all learning the "suds up while it's cold and rinse while it's hot" dance.
  • Ecuas love to love. Everyone kisses everyone hello. Even if it is a group of 20 people saying a quick hello to 20 people, everyone must kiss on the cheek. The night I went to La Ronda I think I kissed 20 cheeks and I didn't know any of them. It's a really cool sight to see. Everyone is just so happy and friendly.
  • Cell phones last on average 3 months. They are always stolen.
  • Speaking of robbers, they are very nice here. You can bargain with them to let you keep enough money to take the bus home, or to keep the watch your grandpa gave you, etc...
There are lots more that I can't think of right now.

I am definitely loving it so far! I am picking up Spanish and making some great friends. It's also been such a whirlwind and I haven't had any down time which is tiring. I think I'm really going to like it here :)!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Estoy en Quito

I am here safely and it's hectic but great. I promise to post another blog soon (when I find internet/am not muy consada). Quito is beautiful and my host family here is very nice.

That's all. A bed is calling me....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Última semana

Tonight is my last night in Cleveland. Tomorrow morning I'll be heading off to Miami for a night and then to Quito with the rest of the WorldTeach gang. I definitely have a mixture of emotions right now, but mostly I'm excited and unsure of what's to come.

I've had a great send off week though. Kaytee and I went to Maine for a few days to spend some time together. We went kayaking, hiking, sailing, and lobster-festival-ing. So much fun! We even got to see the sunrise on top of Cadillac Mountain (the first place in the continental US where the sun rises).

Then I went to Philly and got to see Megan! I definitely miss my friends from school. I was also able to go to my cousin Jess's wedding. It was beautiful! She made a stunning bride and she married the perfect guy for her. It was also a great way to see my entire family from my mom's side. I got to say goodbye to everyone. It was a sad goodbye because I won't see them for the holidays, but I know they will be thinking about me.

Then I came back to Cleveland for my last few days of work and tons of packing. I went to a festival in Little Italy and had some amazing food. And the next night I was introduced to this fantastic band called The Silk Road Ensemble. You should definitely check them out if you get a chance! Tonight we had a few family members over and I got to cook my final meal here. It's so crazy to think I'm leaving tomorrow! I think I'm in a good spot with packing and almost everything fits. Now I just have to spend a little bit of time with my pets and try to get some sleep.

Top things I'm excited about:
  1. Being in a new culture
  2. All of the eco-touristy things I'll do
  3. The food
  4. Dancing
  5. My WorldTeach soon-to-be friends
  6. Teaching again
  7. Going to Peru
  8. Learning Spanish
  9. Living with a host family
  10. Trying new things
Top things I'll miss about the US:
  1. My pets
  2. Being able to talk to my friends and family whenever I want
  3. Electronics and wireless Internet
  4. My car
  5. English
  6. Being able to get food from any culture I want (Italian, Thai, Chinese, etc)
  7. My bed
  8. Being home for the holidays
  9. Having a job that pays
  10. Changing seasons
I'm off to Ecuador!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Voy a Ibarra!

Last night after a lot of waiting I found out I'll be living in Ibarra, Ecuador for a year. I was definitely relieved to not be placed in the jungle (bugs, killer monkeys, etc didn't do it for me)! I was hoping to be placed in the southern highlands of Ecuador but I will be in the northern highlands. After thinking about it I can't say I'm disappointed I'm not where I was hoping to be. I really only hoped to be there because I read a few articles about the cities and they sounded nice. Now that I'm looking into Ibarra it sounds great too! I guess WorldTeach knows how to take what you ask for and put you in the place they think you'll like best, whether it's what you expected or not.

Ibarra sounds like an interesting mix. From the little I've looked into I can't wait to try its famous ice cream and go paragliding from the mountains! I'll definitely have to go to the markets and the lakes as well. Maybe I'll even hike up the volcano.

As of right now I have 16 days left in the states. Time is definitely flying! I'm about to go to Maine and Philadelphia with Kaytee. My cousin's wedding is next Saturday! Then I'll be back for one more hectic week in Cleveland.