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!